Summer and Dogs: Tips, Risks, and How To Keep Them Safe

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Listen to our Podcast with BetterVet’s Dr. Lyndsey Kingsley for even more!

Summertime and the livin’s easy…but our dogs don’t always feel the same way. Some of the very things we love the most, are in fact things they fear the most.

During his most recent podcast, Top Dog Tips' own Connor Knight took some time to talk with BetterVet’s Dr. Lyndsey Kingsley about summer safety for pets and the steps and precautions to take to make our dogs as happy in the Summer as we are!

Important note: our recommendation for any of the warning signs we mention in this article is to please seek the advice of your veterinarian.

Now that we have that settled.

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Summer for Dogs 101: Risks, Tips, And Keeping them Safe

Dehydration, Heat Exhaustion, And Heatstroke: Signs and Symptoms

So, let’s jump into it.

First and foremost, you know your dog better than anyone.

You know their behaviors, quirks, energy levels, traditionally the amount of food and water they consume, as temperatures rise, you may well see fluctuations in these behaviors which is quite normal but be aware if you see seismic shifts.

Those are red flags. 

As temperatures rise, energy levels in dogs can naturally decrease. Since dogs sweat through their paws and panting, dogs don’t cool down as easily as humans, and this can lead to a lack of energy.

You’ll want to be on the lookout for sustained lethargy over extended hours and days.

This can be an indication of heat exhaustion or even heat stroke. 

Additionally, a decline in food and beverage consumption, labored or shallow breathing,  restlessness, increased heart rate, and more seriously frothing at the mouth, dizziness | disorientation, and dark red gums can all point to heat exhaustion or stroke.

It’s really important to have a baseline to compare your dogs' summer behaviors to, so take note of their common everyday characteristics, and should they experience a large shift, please contact your veterinarian. 

Behavior Change Red Flags:

  • Decreased energy level for a sustained period of time
  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased heart rate
  • Excessive drool
  • Tacky gums
  • Restlessness
  • Labored | shallow breathing 
  • Disorientation

Quick Home Treatments and Preventative Measures:

  • Chicken or vegetable stock ice cubes in their water bowl
    • Kiddie pools
    • Hose down
  • Cold | frozen towels, bandanas, face cloths on belly | paws
  • Cool beds
  • Rubber boots (paws) for concrete
  • Musher’s Secret (or petrolium for pads)

Exercising A Dog In the Summer copy

Exercising A Dog In the Summer

Keeping your dog active, mentally and physically, all year round is of course, super important.

And, depending upon where you live affects the amount of outdoor time your dog will have in the hotter months.

But, regardless of where that is, it’s super important to be mindful about the time of day you are bringing your dog on their daily walk, or trip to the dog park.

Always best to bookend your days with these excursions, versus taking them right in the middle of the day. 

If you live in the city or neighborhood where you walk your dog on sidewalks, streets or any other type of paved surface, you want to be sure to time their exercise before the tar has had an opportunity to heat up or after it has cooled.

Get creative, look for grassy or sand areas for them to play, or bring them to any local dog-friendly swimming areas.

And let's face it, some serious fun can always be made with a hose!

If your availability to provide a (temperature) safe, fun outdoor environment is limited in the Summer, providing them mental stimulation can be a great way to keep them engaged, happy, and missing their physical activity time a bit less.

Brain games such as Hide and Seek (toys, treats), dog puzzles (tons of options out there!), or just teaching your dog a new trick, (yes, you can) are great ways to not only keep your dog from suffering boredom, but it’s truly exceptional bonding time.  

Stay Active:

  • Adjust your outdoor exercise time of day to accommodate lower temperatures
  • Take to the hose!
  • Be mindful

Summer parasites ticks on dog skin

Parasites and Diseases

We happen to be huge fans of Summer; there are so many great outdoor activities to take part in and so many to create memories with our best friends, from frisbee to hiking, to more time at the dog park, beach-going, and just long walks in new and exciting places.

And though most of the time, these adventures go off without a hitch, our job is to keep you safe with as much tangible, easy-to-follow, actionable information as possible.

So, indulge us as we give you the 411 on what to look out for, and keep your dogs safe, in the wild. 

Creatures and Insects:

At the top of the list, our friends ticks. Ticks are not fun. They can be hard to find in our dogs and especially our super furry friends, but have a tendency to host near the ears, belly and neck.

Be sure you do a thorough check whenever you come back indoors from an outside adventure, as they are a source of nothing good.

They can carry Lymes Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Rickettsial and Canine Bartonellosis which can lead to inflammation of organs.

So be sure to take the time to check your dog thoroughly.

If you do happen to come upon a tick, after proper removal | or disposal, clean the area and be sure to check to spot for any redness, swelling, or a “bullseye” around the bite.

Please consult your veterinarian if you see any of these indications.

Other of mother nature's creatures, depending on where you live, such as fleas, porcupines, and snakes, are also considerations for our dogs, which all seem to be more active during the warm summer months.

You can learn more about how best to handle dog engagements with these creatures in our podcast (link).

Dog eating watermelon in the summer

Eat This NOT That:

As with any other season, Summer prompts great memories of some favorite foods like watermelon, ice cream for dinner, corn on the cob, and grilled hot dogs to name a few.

Since we so enjoy incorporating our dogs into so many of our activities, including our cookouts, we wanted to provide some rules to follow when your pup sidles up to you, with “that” look before you hand over your treasures.

Our veterinary team tends to follow the rule of single ingredient proteins, think chicken (not rolling in bbq sauce), beef, pork and fish, as a “Yes” for your dog.

Along with most fruits and vegetables.

Be mindful to avoid pitted foods like avocado, cherries, and absolutely no grapes, raisins, onion, grapefruit, or garlic.

You’ll also want to avoid the traditional sides at a cookout, pasta salad, potato salad, chips of any sort, and sugary sweets.

A great rule of thumb when thinking about what you can and can’t feed your dog to follow is: “is the food the ingredient?” if the answer is yes, you’re off to a good start. 

Just say “No!” to These Foods:

  • Grapes | Raisins
  • Plums
  • Avocado
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Bone-in Chicken
  • Grapefruit 

4th of July and Fireworks

The Summer season is when most dogs go missing, and more dogs go lost during the 4th of July week than at any other time.

Make sure they are not only chipped, but equally important,  registered so that in the event your pup gets lost, they will be able to find their way back to you as quickly as possible. 

Speaking of the 4th of July, it is so incredibly common for our four-legged friends to become our frightened friends when there are large unidentified (to them) sounds coming from outside.

So, when it comes to fireworks, thunderstorms, and in some parts of the country gun fire, take some in-home protective measures to keep your pups as comfortable as possible.

Thundershirts, giving them shelter in their crates, wrapping them in blankets, and calming treats are all great options for relief until peace is restored. 

What to Have on Hand:

  • Thundershirt (or like product)
  • Cozy stuffed anima
  • CBD product for anxiety

Bringing Dogs Along For The Ride?!

Here’s a tip we think shouldn’t even need to be stated, but…We get it, we all love having our dogs with us at all times, and that includes while we’re out driving around and running errands.

But, once the temps start to hover over 70+ degrees fahrenheit, please just leave them at home.

On a sunny day, when the temps are 70 outdoors, the temp inside the car can elevate to 100 degrees in just 20 min according to the AKC.

FAQ for Summer for Dogs

Is the Summer Good for Dogs?

Summertime is the perfect chance for you and your pup to hit the beach or pool. If you are going to the beach, make sure their paws are protected.

It's also a great time to enjoy exercise and being outdoors more as long as you are accommodating to your dog (exercise in shaded areas or in earlier or later parts of the day when the temperature is lower).

How Do I Take Care of My Dog in the Summer?

The most important thing you can do is make sure they stay hydrated and that you know how to keep dogs cool during the summer.

Here's a quick list of some tips to do that:

  1. Have damp or cold towels in a cooler for them if you are bringing them with you anywhere outside for a long period of time
  2. If you are going to be outside, try your best to find areas that are shaded. The temperature difference is huge between non-shaded and shaded areas.
  3. If your dog is an outdoor dog, have some kind of water spraying apparatus like a sprinkler or a hose you can use to cool them off
  4. If you are going to give them water to drink, make sure it is always cold.

Do Dogs Feel Hot in Summer?

Yes, but your dog does not cool off the same way you do. They release heat and cool off by panting and sweating through their paw pads and nose.

This means they are not as efficient as we are in cooling off in the heat.

Make sure you have prepared using some of the tips we went through in the article.

Summer and Dogs Summary

Summer for dogs can be a great opportunity for them to be outside more.

But that comes with some risks.

A dog in hot weather if not observed can be at risk of heat exhaustion.

This is why we put together these summer pet safety tips.

Let us know in the comments about your experience with your pup in the summer!

Have you tried any of these tips?

Were these helpful?