Tag: summer safety
With summer winding down, our focus has likely shifted to the new school year and the tasks of fall: prepping for fall holidays, starting to appreciate the changing seasons, and even possibly anticipating the transition into the winter holidays. However, in most regions the great outdoors are temperate and our outdoor spaces still provide opportunities for grilling, relaxing, and enjoying time with family and friends. But what if we’ve made it through the summer without optimizing our outdoor spaces, whether we have a large, fenced yard, a small, concrete patio, or anything in between? What small changes can be made to make our shared areas as dog-friendly as possible for our canine best friends?
BIG OR SMALL – FOCUS ON SAFETY
First and foremost, a common area is more enjoyable for everyone if it is safe for all users! A Great Dane from Portland, Oregon recently made headlines with his gastrointestinal exploits: he was found with 43 ½ socks in his digestive system! The poor pup was understandably experiencing distress. Other commonly ingested items include corn cobs, strings and ropes, and even coins. Review your outdoor space with a critical eye to ensure that small items, garbage, and even shoes are out of reach and safe from consumption. And if your pup tends to get into certain types of items, such as paper products or leather items, exercise extra caution to make sure they’re not in your yard or on your patio! Certain plants can also prove poisonous to our dogs, so it is also important to do a quick check and make sure your plants, both blooming and non-blooming, are dog-safe and non-toxic. Another consideration for making your yard dog-friendly is containment; is your fence dig-proof? Or are your patio railings narrow enough to keep him contained, safe and sound? You and your dog will both be able to get much more enjoyment out of your outdoor space if you’re not constantly monitoring for safety hazards!
INTRODUCING APPEALING ELEMENTS
Perhaps the simplest way to keep your dog happy in the great outdoors is to give him the creature comforts he desires most: shade, shelter, and appealing textures. Shade can be introduced via canopies or shade trees, and your dog will appreciate having safe places that are set up just for him. For example, if your backyard has a covered patio area or a large expanse of grass, you might consider building a dog house for him to enjoy. Many pups also appreciate having their own soft space to lie down and relax, such as a dog bed. Remember our dogs love to be RIGHT with us, so putting a dog bed in a covered area where there is not human companionship may go unappreciated. If you do your best to set up a spot near where the action is (or even near the nice warm firepit as the weather cools!), she will likely greatly appreciate the gesture. Overall, when we are designing comfortable outdoor spaces for our pups, remember their primary concerns are typically limited to having a great place to nap, with maybe some room to run as well. And even if you don’t have the space to provide that room to run, they really just want to be close to their family, so and try keep their nesting places near where you will be relaxing as well!
Images courtesy Bruce Fingerhood and I Am Theo
Hot temperatures have been the norm for some time now, and with summer in full swing many common pests and bugs are also in their element as far as climate goes. In addition to good nutrition, adequate shelter and exercise, and lots of love and affection, our dogs need protection from these bugs and parasites! But where to start? In this case, prevention is key; preventing issues with pests is typically much easier and less resource intensive than trying to remove a pest that’s already snuck by us as pet parents!
EXTERNAL BUGS – NO THANKS!
Bugs and critters may vary based on the region within which you live, but common external offenders include fleas and ticks. In order to effectively prevent flea and tick infestation, pet owners can opt to provide regular preventative measures, including applying a preventative such as Frontline or Advantix. These preventatives are sold in doses based on your dog’s weight and vet offices often carry them at somewhat of a discount when compared to retailers. It may also be a good idea to get them at your vet’s office because you will have the opportunity to confirm which product meets your needs based on the season, your area, and your pet’s size and individual health history. Preventing fleas from ever taking hold is SO MUCH easier than trying to get rid of an infestation after it starts, and in addition to being a nuisance to pets and their owners, fleas and ticks carry serious health concerns. They can spread a variety of diseases and if left unchecked, multiple flea bites can wreak havoc on your dog’s wellbeing and overall health. He may even be severely allergic to them! Some preventative formulas also offer protection against mosquitoes and other bugs, so you can protect against multiple offenders in one shot!
INTERNAL PESTS – DOUBLE NO THANKS!
In addition to the fleas, ticks, and other bugs that like to hitch a ride on our pups outside, there are also internal pests that can be picked up a variety of ways. For example, heart worms are common in some regions and can be deadly for our pets. There are also several varieties of worms that seek to take up residence in our dog’s intestinal tract. That being said, just as with fleas and ticks there are preventative steps we can take to prevent such issues. There are monthly heartworm preventatives available for dogs; just be sure that before starting one you have your vet test for any current heartworm infestation. A dog that already has heartworms can get much worse if she is given a heartworm preventative. For intestinal worms, simple steps to maintain sanitary conditions may be prevention enough. Clean up your yard on a regular basis, and only frequent dog parks that are well maintained. Watch your dog for signs of intestinal distress such as vomiting and diarrhea, and when you go to your well-dog checkups make sure to ask about any parasites that may be an issue based on your dog’s specific risk factors (area in which you live, places you go together, etc.). And no matter what, remember that regular check-ins with your vet, following a preventative medicine schedule if needed, and just being an aware pet parent will prevent many issues before they start! These pests may all seem quite alarming but is possible to keep your dog happy and healthy simply by providing the love, care, and awareness that he needs. And worst case, if your dog does have an issue with a pest, the sooner you catch it and work with your vet to eradicate it, the better! The two of you can indeed enjoy the warm weather and the great outdoors together.
Images courtesy Joe Futrelle and Dave See
In Wisconsin last month, longtime pet parent Lois Matykowski noticed that her granddaughter’s ice cream pop had vanished. Naturally, all eyes turned to the family pup Tucker, a notorious food and snack snatcher. It turned out that Tucker had not only grabbed the ice cream, but he’d even ingested the stick! And the story gets better: when he got sick later, he also managed to cough up a wedding ring that had been missing from the family for FIVE years. Tucker’s vet thinks the stick may have loosened the ring up from wherever it was hiding. Luckily, Tucker was just fine, and other than a sad little one over an irretrievable ice cream treat, everyone else in the family came out unharmed as well. However, Tucker’s adventure highlights all too common issues that pet parents face: keeping their dogs away from choking hazards and knowing what to do in the event their dog does get into something they shouldn’t.
INDOORS AND OUT: REMOVING HAZARDS
Inside our homes, from the perspective of a mischievous dog off limits treats and treasures are quite abundant. This is where watching your dog and knowing his patterns may come in handy. For example, some dogs are quite fond of shoes, while others are more interested in anything made of leather. In contrast, some pups are quite interested in eating paper or photos. When your dog does show interest in things that aren’t his, try and track what his main targets are. You may be able to learn what you need to be extra careful about keeping out of reach. Additionally, if your dog is young or just never quite outgrows scavenging, watch out for the usual suspects: small articles of clothing, chicken bones in trash cans, and even smaller hazards like marbles and individual keys. Both outdoors and in, it is imperative that poisonous hazards are kept secure and out of reach, including pesticides, soaps, and motor vehicle fluids. Practicing good housekeeping can save you significant time, heartache, and money by keeping your pup out of things she shouldn’t be snacking on, so if in doubt, put an item up on a shelf or safely behind a cupboard door!
IF YOU GET SUSPICIOUS…
Realistically, if you come home to a spilled bottle of detergent in the laundry room you will have definite cause for concern. But what if you don’t directly witness any mischief and your pup seems off? If an item is inexplicably missing or your dog’s behavior has changed (he is sluggish, hasn’t gone to the bathroom, loses his appetite, or is having trouble keeping food down), you can take immediate steps to help him. In the case of suspected ingestion of a poisonous substance (such as rat poison or auto coolant), call poison control, an animal hotline, or your vet’s office immediately. Time is of the essence! If you suspect your dog may be experiencing blockage of some sort, call your vet! You may need to bring her in for imaging to see just what exactly she has gotten herself into. If necessary, call the after-hours care number for your vet. It is better to err on the side of caution when it comes to the health of your dog, and pups can be quite creative when they get themselves into trouble. Which also brings us to a final point on prevention: our dogs tend to get into trouble when they are bored or anxious, so keeping them happy and safe can help prevent incidents such as these. Even the most well cared for and happy dog will get into trouble at some point, but pet parents can consider crate training their dogs when they have to be out and making sure their pups are getting adequate attention, exercise, and supervision in order to keep them from eating all of the forbidden things!
Images courtesy of RPavich and Beanie1988
Although as pet parents we realize just how well our dogs can communicate, the fact remains that they cannot speak the same way people do. A dog in a warm car can’t just politely request that a passerby let him out, and similarly a pup that shouldn’t stay outside in the sun all day can’t simply trot over to the fence and ask a neighbor for some shade. However, since we are pet parents and animal lovers, we can take the time to recognize situations that are not okay for dogs whether it is a neighbor pup or one that you see while out and about. We can collectively improve the quality of life for dogs by being aware and taking action when appropriate.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
According to the Humane Society, 49 states have included felony provisions in their animal abuse laws, which means that not only is the mistreatment of animals a serious moral crime, but in many areas the legal system also takes it seriously. In fact, the Humane Society also offers several helpful tips for spotting animal abuse, including watching for: persons that keep more pets than they can manage, animals that show an obvious lack of medical care (very thin, wounds that do not heal, and/or patches of hair loss), and inadequate shelter in hot or cold weather. Summer is in full swing and the risks to dogs left in areas without shade and especially left in closed vehicles is very real. Additionally, dogs that are left chained up for long periods of time are left in an exposed, vulnerable state, and dogs left behind to fend for themselves when their families move need to be taken in and cared for as quickly as possible. Domestic pets simply are not equipped to care for themselves; in addition to loneliness and battling the elements, they are exposed to hunger and, depending on your region, possibly predators. All of these issues are highly time sensitive, but in cases of an animal in a locked car or violence toward an animal, doing something immediately is of the essence.
WHAT TO DO
As mentioned above, dogs in direct danger as a result of extreme temperatures (whether hot or cold) and/or violent conditions need help right away. If you witness either scenario (or any scenario in which you feel a dog is in immediate danger), call the authorities right away! Call 911 in the case of a time sensitive emergency; in cases where you suspect mistreatment of a longer duration, you may want to consider calling your local animal welfare agency. Keep track of what you’ve seen and heard and make sure to let authorities know the details. Local rescues, vet offices, local law enforcement, and even the Humane Society can all also be starting points for finding the right people to help. Even in the event that you come across a lost or stray dog in your neighborhood, it’s important to do something. You may not feel safe personally approaching the animal (and that's okay!). But you can always call for help from someone that does. Protecting our dogs is a community effort; the great news is that animals rescued from bad situations can go on to thrive and live a happy, comfortable life with a family that truly cares for them. They just need a little help from us humans to get them into a safe, loving environment as soon as possible.
Images courtesy Taro the Shiba Inu and Jamie McCaffrey
This past weekend was Memorial Day, and aside from its main purpose as a means to recognize our servicemembers who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, for many the holiday also stands as a benchmark of sorts. That is, for many Memorial is the unofficial start of summer. Summertime means barbeques, sunny days in the park, and trips to the local pool, lake, or beach; all of those activities also entail increased sun exposure. Although our dogs have a fur coat, that coat does not provide sufficient protection from the sun’s rays and may even exacerbate the effects of heat on a warm day. Just as we should take the time to apply sunscreen, wear hats, and take other steps to protect ourselves from the effects of the sun, so should we keep an eye on the wellbeing of our pups on those long summer days!
As the temperature rises, our instinct may be to help our dogs out by thinning out their coat and thus hopefully increasing their comfort on hot days. However, shaving a long-haired dog’s coat may actually increase their skin exposure to the sun’s rays and thus increase their chances of sustaining a sunburn while outside. As an alternative, make sure to keep your dog clean and well-groomed, as brushing out their coat (especially their undercoat) thoroughly will thin their fur somewhat while still offering the skin protection that they need. In addition, if your dog is already a short-haired breed or for some reason has a thinning coat, make sure to limit his sun exposure to prevent sunburn. For any breed, especially on very hot days, keep an eye on how long your dog is outside in the sun. If he or she is panting, it has likely been too long! Bring your pup inside or into the shade for a break and ensure there is constant access to fresh, clean water.
So as mentioned above, the first step to preventing sunburns and possible heat injuries is to only allow your pup minimal exposure and make sure to move her out of the sun and heat once she starts to show signs of overheating, such as panting. For a beach-bound pup, additional prevention in the form of dog-safe sunscreen or sun protective clothing may provide further protection. But what can we do once sun or heat exposure has gone too far? If your dog has simply sustained a minor sunburn, a cool bath may be soothing for him. Just make sure to avoid vigorous lathering or other more abrasive techniques to keep him as comfortable as possible. It is important to note, though, that if you observe any signs of possible heat injury or more severe sunburn, it is imperative that you reach out to your trusted vet or if necessary, a pet urgent care facility. According to WebMD, these include: heavy panting, thick saliva, vomiting, diarrhea, an eventual grey-like color to gums and tongue, and a spike in rectal temperature. It is always better to be safe than sorry – if you have any concerns about sun damage, dehydration, or heat exhaustion in your pet, reach out to your vet to be sure! With proper planning and monitoring you and your dog can enjoy those gorgeous summer days, just keep a sharp eye, protect yourselves from the sun and heat, and don’t forget to have plenty of time together in the shade with a cool drink of water!
Images courtesy Pat Murray and Joe Sullivan
Summer can be great fun for you and your dog with activities like hiking, swimming, boating and more, but it also brings some seasonal health hazards and risks pet parents need to remember. Among them are dehydration, burned pads and heat stroke. Here are some tips for a safe summer with your dog in the season ahead.
Auto Travel - Be very careful about leaving your pet in the car in the summer. Temperatures can rise quickly causing your dog to overheat, get heat stroke or worse, die.
Dehydration - Provide lots of cool fresh water to your pet both inside your home and outside. You can treat your dog to pupsicles or other frozen treats to increase the liquid intake of your pet each day.
Burned Pads - With the summer sun pounding down on asphalt, sidewalks and streets can become hot enough to burn your dog's feet. Test the surface with you hand before you go for a walk to be sure the temperature is not so hot it will hurt your dog. You can also buy booties, specifically designed to protect your pet's feet on hot surfaces.