Keep Your Dog Happy and Safe This Summer

The summer months can be the most fun time of year for your canine pal, as they get to spend more time outdoors, playing and soaking up the sun. Unfortunately, summer can also be dangerous for dogs if basic precautions aren’t taken. As a good pet parent, you should know how to make sure your dog has a safe and enjoyable summer. Here are some tips to consider.

This gorgeous golden is ready for an adventurous summer! Are you?

Be Careful When Taking Walks

There’s a good chance that you’ll walk your dog more in the summer than during any other season. For starters, the weather is nice. You’ll also probably have just a little more free time, and even if you don’t, there are simply more daytime hours during the summer. All of this extra dog walking is great – but the summer months pose some specific risks.

You should try to walk your dog in the mornings or at dusk on especially hot days. Dogs can suffer from heat stroke just like humans. If it’s too hot and muggy outside for you, it’s likely to be too hot and muggy for your dog. You should always carry a water container with you on walks – especially for the longer ones. Be mindful of the temperature of the ground as well. Feel it with your hand. If it’s too hot for you to touch, it is probably hot enough to burn your pup’s paws.

Some dogs are okay with wearing booties in the winter and summer, which enables them to enjoy a walk on a hot day more easily, but there’s no need to push for this. If you can make a morning or evening walk work, it will be better for you both.

This damp earth seems to be the perfect temperature for a playful pup!

Think About the Sun

Did you know that dogs can get sunburned too? Dogs with thinner coats and light complexions are the most at risk, but hot days can be a problem for almost any breed. If you are going to be in the direct sunlight for a while, strongly consider applying a sunscreen on your dog (there are ones made for dogs, but ones for children will do in a pinch). As Cesar’s Way reminds us, be sure you cover their ears, nose, tail, and around their mouths. And don’t forget to reapply if you’re going to be outside for an extended period of time.

Be Extra Mindful of Pests

We all know that summer is the buggiest of seasons. It’s vital that you are extra mindful of pests during the warmer months. Not only should you make sure you keep up to date with your dog’s flea and tick medications, but you should invest in some extra protection (maybe some anti-pest shampoo). If your dog spends a lot of time outdoors in a wooded area, be sure to check their body for ticks just as you would for yourself.

In addition to avoiding pests, you want to make sure that your dog is protected against mosquito bites. Mosquitoes often carry the heartworm parasite, which can be deadly for your dog. Your best bet is to talk to your vet about a year-round medication that helps prevent heartworms.

“Heartworm?! That doesn’t sound good…”

Keep Your Dog Away From Poisonous Plants

Some of those beautiful summer blossoms in your backyard garden can do real harm to your dog, and you should be aware of what’s in your yard and what to do if your dog eats a poisonous plant. Plants like lily of the valley and foxglove are highly toxic to dogs, and there are many more common annuals and perennials that can make your dog sick, including rose of sharon, azalea, iris, bleeding heart and wisteria. Check this list of plants to see what may be toxic to your dog (or cat!).

If you suspect that your pet has ingested a poisonous plant, immediately call your vet to determine next best steps.

Family BBQ Dangers

Summertime usually means firing up the grill for a cookout. Be sure to keep your dog far away from your grill when you are cooking and for quite a while after you are done. Grills can stay hot to the touch for hours after use and this could pose risk of serious burn injuries.

It’s also not unusual for whatever has been cooked to accidentally fall on the ground. Ideally, you want to avoid feeding your dog “human” food. Anything with a bone, particularly a cooked bone, can be especially dangerous for your dog and can cause choking or internal damage. Make sure that if any meat with bones falls on the ground that it’s disposed of right away.

Outdoor Playtime

If your dog is going to be spending a large portion of its day outside, it’s imperative that you have a shaded spot for them in addition to plenty of water. Make it a point to provide clean, fresh water every day, and never chain your dog when you are away from home. In New Mexico, there are actually laws that prohibit tying out your dog, so make sure you are aware of these laws before leaving your dog outside.

Outdoor playtime is a great idea, but make sure to limit their exposure to heat and plants.

A dog door is a great option for animals that are at home by themselves during the day. If you have a fenced yard and the option to install a dog door, you”ll be offering your pooch the ultimate convenience when it comes to potty breaks and the ability to go in and out as they wish. Just be sure to close the door at night to avoid any unwanted critters venturing into your house.

Watch Out For Hidden Pool Dangers

Even if your dog is a great swimmer, pools can be dangerous in certain circumstances. Always make sure your dog knows how to get out on their own. Practice getting out using the steps until they get the hang of it. Of course, it’s best to always supervise your dog around the pool. And don’t forget to rinse your dog off with the hose after they leave the pool too. Chlorine can be especially irritating to their skin.

Hitting the Road

Summertime usually means vacation for most people, and it’s not unusual for many owners to take their dogs wherever they go. If you decide to let your pooch tag along on your trip, make sure you plan ahead accordingly. Look for hotels/motels that are pet-friendly. If you’re driving, be sure to make frequent stops and to set up your dog safely in the car. Wherever you go you’ll want to have food and water bowls, a pillow or blanket, dog toys, and copies of your dog’s vaccinations.

Looks like this guy is enjoying a nice trip to the river!

It should go without saying, but if you take a road trip with your dog, never leave your pet enclosed in a hot car. Just as with children, dogs are susceptible to overheating and death if locked in a hot car.

If you leave your dog behind when you travel, consider hiring a dog sitter or board your dog while you are on vacation. This will ensure that your dog is checked on regularly and has someone who will be walking them and playing with them. Not only will this help keep your dog entertained, but you can rest easy while you’re away and your dog can have a pleasant vacation of their own!

A fun and adventurous summer is made even more so if you have a dog by your side. But it’s your responsibility to read up on potential summer dangers and make sure your dog stays happy and safe.

Jessica Brody is a dog lover and creator of

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