Summer has finally arrived in Wisconsin! Time for warmer weather, summer get -togethers, and lots of other fun warm weather activities! There’s no denying summer is great, but it is also a time of year when our canine pals need a little extra help to make sure they stay safe, healthy and happy! This post will cover general pointers on warm weather safety and also explore some tips dealing specifically with camping and boating trips with your dog!
First off, let’s cover some basic warm weather safety tips. It’s always good to remember that dogs can suffer from the same heat-related difficulties as us humans, including overheating, dehydration, and even sunburn!
Most importantly, remember to never leave your dog in a vehicle alone. Even with the windows open, a parked car will get hot very quickly on a warm day. Overheating can happen within minutes and quickly cause death.
Try to avoid having your dog stand on hot asphalt. A hot walking surface can quickly lead to burns on sensitive paw pads! (For more information on this topic and how to tell if asphalt is too hot for your dog check out Pooch & Claw’s blog post on the subject http://www.poochandclaws.com/summer-pet-tips-hot-asphalt-and-your-dog/)
Older dogs, overweight dogs, and brachycephalic (snub nosed dogs such as pugs), will have a harder time dealing with hot summer days. These dogs should be allowed to cool themselves frequently. Always allow these dogs (and any dogs) access to cool, fresh water, shaded areas, and even small pools if possible!
Apply sunscreen regularly to dogs that have light colored or thin fur. Make sure to get high exposure areas such as the nose and ears. Look for a sunscreen formulated specially for dogs, as human sunscreen can contain chemicals that are harmful to domestic animals.
During summer months it is always good to check your dog regularly for burns, cuts, chips in their nails, hot spots, fleas and ticks, and signs of ear infections. All of these can increase with more outside fun during the summer!
Make sure your dog is groomed to properly deal with the hot weather. Regular brushing to remove excess hair will help them manage heat. Shaving heavier coated dogs (that are appropriate for shaving-check with your groomer first!) to about 1 inch will help prevent them from overheating (shaving their coat too short will not allow them protection from the sun)
Now that we’ve got the basics covered, let’s talk about tips for taking your dog on a boating or camping trip with you! As much fun as it is to take a vacation with your dog, there are certain preparations that will make the trip easier for you, and safer for your canine pal!
First, let’s talk specifically about boating. Most dogs love the water, but boating can be a different story. Before you take your dog on an extended boat trip you’ll want to give him some time to get used to the boat. Not every dog will enjoy his first experience on the boat; dogs often become nervous on unstable surfaces and can get seasick just like people! Let your dog get used to the boat before taking it in the water. Allow your dog to go on the boat and help him get used to sitting still. After your dog gets used to this, try it with the boat in shallow water with smaller waves.
Once your dog seems comfortable here, take the boat for a short trip. Allow him to get used to moving at different speeds in different areas.
Consider investing in a canine lifejacket. Yes, most dogs are great swimmers, but some are not. Some dogs may struggle, especially in larger bodies of water and when sharing the water with boats and water skiers, and dealing with waves. Even the greatest swimmer can benefit from a lifejacket, as it will help prevent exhaustion and hypothermia.
Always have fresh drinking water on hand so your dog isn’t required to drink out of the lake (which can be full of microorganisms and toxins).
Also remember to allow your dog time for bathroom breaks while on the boat. Pull up to the dock or shore for a couple of minutes to allow your dog to relieve himself.
Now we’ll talk more specifically about camping and other general outdoor activities.
Before going on a camping trip, make sure your dog is up to date on all of her required vaccines. It may also be a good idea to ask your vet if he/she recommends any other vaccines for the area (such as for Lyme disease). Also be sure to apply flea and tick preventative before taking a trip. It is a good idea to apply dog-friendly mosquito repellent as well.
Always keep your dog on a leash or tie out line at all times. Just in case your dog were to get away from you, make sure he is wearing ID tags and a collar at all times. It may be beneficial to make a temporary ID tag that displays the name of the park, campsite or motel you’re staying at. You may also consider having your dog microchipped (available at most pet hospitals). Microchips are a good backup for other tags, just in case a collar were to slip off!
Finally, if you plan to take your dog on any sort of hiking trip, make sure you physically prepare her with a series of shorter walks at home. And, as always, be sure to have plenty of fresh drinking water available.
In case of emergency, it is a good idea to write down the number of a vet in the area that you will be staying. Preparing a small first-aid kit for your dog when going on a camping trip is also a good idea. Here’s a list of some items to include:
Milk of magnesia (for upset stomach due to ingestion of poisonous items)
Adhesive first aid tape
Benadryl (for bug bites
There you have it, a list of tips and tricks to help you and your dog have a safe, fun summer! If you have questions or think I may have missed something important-feel free to leave a comment! If you would like further information on any of this material, ask any member of The Dog Den staff, we’d be happy to help!