Summer is coming and we can all look forward to long evening walks, some fun at the beach or maybe even a dog friendly holiday with your best friend at your side. Summer isn’t without it’s dangers for dogs though, we all know the risks of leaving our pooch in the car in hot weather and I’m confident that no-one reading this would ever do that, but there are others and today I thought I’d blog about some of the more common ones and hopefully give you a few pointers on what to look out for and what action to take.
Grass seeds start to become more prevalent from late spring through to the end of summer and these innocuous looking seeds can cause untold discomfort and pain for our dogs and can result in an expensive visit to the vet. They can attach themselves in between the toes or under the elbows then puncture the skin and work their way into the flesh, or enter the ear canal and make their way down to the eardrum or lodge in the nose. Signs to look out for in your dog include obsessive licking of their paws, rubbing their ears and shaking their heads in pain.
Get into the habit of thoroughly checking your pooch for the presence of grass seeds after every summer walk, especially if they have been running and playing in long grass, something that I try to discourage Maya and Lucia from doing!
Most dogs love water and there’s so much fun to be had for your pooch splashing about in the sea or swimming in lakes – Maya and Lucia adore it. It’s also a fantastic way to ensure your dog is getting enough exercise when it’s too warm to walk far, as a 5 minute swim is apparently equivalent to a 5 mile walk for a dog. However don’t just assume your dog can swim, some need to build up confidence in the water first and learn they can do it! Think about investing in a float vest for your dog for extra peace of mind, especially handy if you’re thinking about taking them boating or paddle boarding.
There are some hidden dangers that you need to be aware of though, watch out for toxic blue green algae in ponds and lakes, especially when it’s hot and dry. This is actually a bacteria called cyanobacteria that has the appearance of a blue-green scum or foam, or can gather together in greenish clumps. Swimming in this can be fatal for dogs so please be careful.
Ticks! As the temperatures start to rise in spring so do your dogs chances of becoming host to an unwanted visitor – a tick. Ticks are vectors and as such can transmit diseases to dogs or humans, like Lyme disease for instance. Ticks are becoming more prevalent here in the UK and are more commonly picked up on countryside, woodland and moorland walks from March – November but they are active all year round, and in towns and cities too.
It is vitally important to protect your dog from ticks and it’s a personal choice as to whether to use a mainstream tick treatment (which I do) or an alternative natural product. I don’t really want to get into the pros and cons of each in this post, (maybe some other time) but I advise you to both talk with your vet and research alternative methods before making your decision, you must, however take some action!
BBQ’s are a quintessential part of summer, I love them and so do my girls but I have to keep an eagle eye on them, especially Maya! Firstly many common BBQ relishes are toxic to dogs, think onions, chili and garlic and some guests may unwittingly feed them – not everyone has dog sense – and if your dogs are anything like mine they won’t say no to free food! Secondly there is the risk of your dog getting burnt if he ventures to close to the grill or discovering something he shouldn’t in a friends garden. Enjoy but just be careful.
Heat Exhaustion and Dehydration are biggies. I plan to publish an in-depth blog on this subject soon, but for now here are my top 6 tips to keep your dog comfortable.
1. Plan to walk your dogs early, before the day heats up or/and late in the evening, or better still take an early morning trip to a lake or the beach for a swim. Watch out for the pavement being uncomfortably hot for your dog to walk on too – if you find it uncomfortable to keep the back of your hand there for 7 seconds it’s too hot for your pooch to walk on!
2. Always make sure your dog has an adequate supply of fresh water and ensure you remember to take plenty with you on walks. Don’t forget some for you!
3. Keep air circulating in your home, invest in a couple of fans if need to and if you spend time out in the garden like us make sure there’s somewhere shaded for your dog to lay.
4. Cool down your dog by giving him frozen treats, Maya and Lucia love ice cubes, either plain or with a raspberry or piece of apple in, frozen kongs filled with peanut butter are a big hit with them too, or why not have a go at making your own dog lollies!
5. Cooling mats are fantastic for your dog to lie on in the house, and what pooch wouldn’t enjoy a splash around in a paddling pool. If you don’t have access to these you can always use wet towels to cool him down if he’s too hot.
6. Hot summers days entail a total ball ban for Lucia but when it’s slightly cooler I do allow her to play with the breathe easy range from Chuckit. (not an ad, just really rate these products)
Hope you all have a fabulous summer with your dogs, why not let us know your top tips for staying safe in the comments below.
Love Sal, Maya & Lucia xxx