You may not know this but summer brings many dangers to your dog’s wellbeing and happiness. Here are the 5 Most Important things I believe you should do to ensure your dog is happy and healthy during the hot summer days.
- Fleas- They can be really annoying to your dog and yourself. They can often create an allergic reaction in your dog that will lead to a skin infection and a trip to the vet. This is most common in the spring months because as it warms up fleas go crazy breeding. Even if you are doing a flea treatment every month I believe it’s a good idea to check your dog every two weeks in case the flea treatment isn’t working. This way if an outbreak starts you can nip it in the bud before it gets real bad. To check for fleas I usually look at the thick hair around the tail. When your dog is lying down, you can also check around the belly button. If you see just ONE flea you will need to take action.
- WATER- In summer dogs drink a lot more water than in winter. I recommend having a large water bowl/bucket that holds about 1L of water per kg of dog. I know this sounds like over kill and it is. However my reasoning is if for some reason there is an emergency where you can’t go home for two or three days, your dog will have enough water to survive while you are gone. A dog can live weeks and weeks without food but won’t last two days in summer without water.
- SHADE- Ensure your dog has not just ample shade but guaranteed shade during the hot summer months. If you can bring them inside in to the air conditioning that’s great. If outside I prefer the shade of a large leafy green tree as they seem to cool the air much better than manmade structures. If you don’t have a tree then a large shaded area is better than a small shaded area. Under the house or in a cellar are better because low lying places are always cooler.
- LOOK OUT FOR SNAKES- as it warms up snakes are coming out of hibernation. I know this because about this time last year I had two dogs bitten while out on a morning walk. The next few months are the worst because when snakes come out of hibernation they are very hungry and active while looking for food. They are also braver searching for food closer to humans and dogs as any smell of life/food is inviting to them. Once they eat one or two meals they go back to their cautious selves staying away from activity.
So what you can do is keep your dog on lead at all times while walking near creeks and in parks. At home there is not much you can do except if you hear your dog barking excitedly rush out and check that it’s not a snake. If it is, remove your dog from the area without you or the dog getting bitten. If your dog does get bitten, rush to the vet. If you know what type of snake it is, that will help your vet choose the right antivenin. Also call your vet on the way there to ensure they have the right antivenin as many vets don’t carry the different types. First aid for dogs is often hard because dogs usually get bitten on the face and it’s not possible to do a pressure immobilisation bandage on a dog’s face.
- LOSE WEIGHT FOR SUMMER- Not you…your dog! Ok you may be trying to shed some winter fat to look good in your swimsuit this summer, which is good, however your dog will also benefit from being leaner in the hotter months.
This is because dogs don’t perspire like we do and actually once they get hot, it’s much much harder for them to cooldown. The best thing we can do for them is drop their weight in summer to where they are “thin”. By doing this we allow them to get rid of excess heat faster.
This is how it works. Let’s look at the difference between how quickly a pot of tea cools compared to a cup of tea. Because the pot of tea has more volume than the cup of tea it holds its heat much better. Same goes for your dog when its fat it has more volume and therefore holds the heat better.
By making your dog lean there is less volume so the heat can dissipate faster. Not to mention fat is a good insulator, so a fat dog is like a tea pot covered by a tea cosy. That heat isn’t getting out in a hurry. A lean dog is like a small cup of tea and can cooldown much quicker. Lean dogs also don’t get as hot as fat dogs because they don’t have to work as hard because they are carrying less weight.
With heat exhaustion being a real possibility in summer, a leaner dog could be a good insurance policy. You still need to watch you don’t walk your dog during the hotter times of the day; but when lean you will notice your dog doesn’t puff as much and will enjoy their walks much more.
Lean dogs also live longer with less illnesses throughout their lives so it’s definitely worth doing. So here is how to do it. If your dog is at a “nice” condition decrease food portion by 20% until you see your dog is at a lean condition (IDEAL with a few ribs showing) then adjust accordingly. If your dog is overweight decrease food portions by 50% until your dog is at a lean condition then adjust accordingly.