Summer Safety and Care Tips
Most of this information is already scattered throughout the site, but I pulled it all together to make a quick list of summer care tips that can be used anytime during the late spring, summer and early fall.
Do provide plenty of shade for all hours of the day if your dog must spend any time outdoors. Dogs can suffer from heatstroke and heat induced fatigue, lethargy and exhaustion just like people.
Whether indoors or out, provide plenty of fresh cool water for your dog. Even if he doesn't spend a great deal of time out in the heat your dog's water intake will increase during the warmer summer months. Outdoor water should be refreshed several times a day so it doesn't become hot. Adding ice cubes to the water will help keep it cooler a little longer.
Limit your dog's outdoor activities to shorter and less physical games so that he doesn't over work himself and suffer from heat exhaustion.
If you have your dog shaved in the summer to keep him cooler, don't have his fur shaved to a length less than an inch and a half if he spends time outside. If there isn't enough fur left to protect his normally hidden skin he will be at risk for serious sunburn and more damage will occur than if you didn't have the dog shaved at all.
When out and about with your pet, never leave him in a locked car on a hot day. The temperature inside the car (even when parked in the shade) can soar to 140 degrees in less than five minutes! Dogs left in hot vehicles can incur serious and devastating brain damage in under seven minutes and even a "hot whether dog" such as many African breeds can die in under ten minutes! Municipalities across the United States allow many police departments to break the glass of a car window (at the expense of the owner!) to help animals in distress from the heat.
If your dog has a light colored nose and he must spend some time in the sun, try putting some high SPF numbered children's sun block on his nose to protect him from sunburn.
If you have to take your dog out for a walk on asphalt roads, protect the pads of his feet from the hot surface with light safety booties. This protection will also help keep hot softened tar road patches from getting stuck to the pads of his feet. The best times to walk a dog during a hot day are early in the morning and late in the evening when it is generally cooler.
If you take your dog boating, put a "doggie" life jacket on him in case he should fall overboard. Even water dogs like Labs and Newfoundlands can only swim for so long and if you're not sure how well your dog can swim, its better to be safe than sorry.
If you have an in ground pool or allow your dog access to any other type of pool in which his paws cannot touch the bottom, be sure to monitor your dog closely if there is no barrier to keep him from falling in when you are not yourself in the pool. Training him to stay at a safe distance from the pool or putting in a ramp or regular type steps that he can be taught to swim to if he is allowed in could save his life if he should fall in accidentally when you aren't around.
If you allow your dog to swim in the pool with you, consider using a pet safe chlorine replacement so there is less irritation and drying of his skin and coat. If you do use chlorine and your dog goes swimming in it, rinse him off afterward with regular water from a hose thoroughly so the chlorine does not damage his skin or coat.
Be careful when barbecuing that your dog doesn't get to close or try to stick his nose on to the hot sides of the grill. Many dogs are burned from the attraction of the cooking food.
The following are not specifically related to summer care but I mention them because the chances of these things happening raise dramatically during the summer when more people take their dogs out for rides or on vacation.
When taking your dog out for rides in the car stay safe by keeping the dog leashed and restrained in the vehicle. In case of an accident a restrained or seat belted dog will not be able to dive out in panic when emergency personnel open the doors to help. Keeping the leash on also means that it will be easier for emergency personnel to remove the dog with less risk of being bitten. Do not restrain a dog by tying the leash around the seat or other immovable object in the car if the leash is attached to a neck collar. If your are in an accident or have to stop suddenly the resulting sharp jerk from his thrown body could injure him seriously or even break his neck. Use a harness or specially designed dog seat belt harness or a strapped down cage, crate or carrier to keep your dog from moving around. In many states, retraining a dog in your vehicle is law. Check with your local law enforcement officals to see if it this mandatory in your state.
Never let your dog hang his head or upper body out of an open car window. Especially when the vehicle is in motion. Stinging insects, glass, road debris, and small pieces of junk can fly into your dog's eyes, ears and nose causing serious damage and needless pain. Branches from bushes, trees and passing cars can smack or hit a dog's extended face, and besides the danger of an unrestrained dog jumping out of an open vehicle window, many small and medium sized dogs have been literally sucked out of a car by the sudden change in air pressure from the passing of large vehicles like tractor trailers.
Other things to consider :
Keep a doggie first aid kit available during all activities in which your dog is allowed to participate or attend. You never know if you'll have to remove a fishing hook, ease a bee stingm or bandage a cut.
Remember to carry a copy of your dog's current vaccinations in the car or whenever you take him out anywhere.
Keep his ID tags current with the correct name and phone number.
Do not skip any vaccinations he may have coming up during the summer. He needs to stay healthy to be at his best and be better equipped to handle the heat. If your dog has several shots to get and doesn't do well in the summer, try to space them out over a few weeks so that his heat stressed body has an easier time dealing with the vaccinations.
Thank you Kelsey for asking for these tips.