Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Dog Days of Summer

A dog swimming in a lake
Here's some great tips to help you and your pooch enjoy these long, hot summer days. Whether you're trying to beat the heat, gearing up for vacation, or just hanging by the pool, these pointers will get you through the summer in style. 

Sun and Heat Exposure
  • The best preventative measure to prevent sun/heat exposure is to monitor your dog’s activities, and to minimize exposure during the peak hours of the day. Dogs love the warmer weather just as much as you do, but the season’s heat and sunshine can be problematic. Each summer, countless dogs are treated for heat stroke.
  • While no one is safe in a parked car in the sun, dogs are especially susceptible to succumbing to heat stroke. In fact, according to AAA, a car’s interior temperature can climb to 170 degrees on an 85-degree day in less than 20 minutes, even with the windows cracked. In many states it is illegal to leave your dog in a locked car, and it’s never ok for Guide Dog puppies. GDB alumna Jen McEachen of Prince George, British Columbia, recently wrote a Letter to the Editor in her hometown warning pet owners of the dangers of leaving their pets in the car on hot days; read her letter here:
  • Energetic games of catch or long walks/runs in high temperatures can also weaken your companion. So on super-hot days, avoid the sun by taking your dog out in the early morning or later in the evenings, instead of when the sun is highest in the sky.
Swimming 101
  • Moving water can be quite cold but in all the fun your dog may not care! Call him out periodically and check that he is not becoming excessively chilled. Trembling can be a sign of early hypothermia or just doggy excitement. Dogs whose hackles (the hair along the spine) are raised up when they exit the water are showing that they are very cold.  Keep plenty of old towels on hand to dry off your dog.
  • Some dogs swallow a lot of water while swimming and swell up like balloons! Keep your dog out of the water for a while if this happens and be prepared to give him plenty of opportunities to relieve himself.
  • Anytime a dog swims it will expose his ears to moisture. Excessive moisture in the ear can contribute to ear infections. Care must be taken to dry and air out the dog’s ears after swimming. Check with your veterinarian if your dog is prone to ear infections before allowing him to swim.
  • Ponds, sloughs, lakes, rivers: Bodies of water inhabited by wildlife may be contaminated with bacteria such as giardia; dogs should not swim in areas that would be unsuitable for humans to swim. You should also be aware of hazards such as submerged branches, fishing line etc. A gradual entry into the water is safer and less frightening to a dog than a steep bank; boat ramps and gently sloping banks are excellent entry points. Currents can be unpredictably strong; caution should be used wherever there is a flow of water.  Some dogs thrill in paddling against the current but even the strongest dogs may be swept away in swift running rivers. Dog owners should be considerate of other people using the swimming area; not everyone enjoys being sprayed by wet dog shaking off!
  • Ocean: All the above should be considered when taking a dog to the beach. The ocean can be overwhelming to some dogs and highly stimulating to others. Caution should be taken even wading in the ocean with small dogs and puppies. Dogs who have been in the ocean should have their coats rinsed thoroughly afterwards.
  • Swimming pools: Small dogs and puppies may be more comfortable being introduced to water in a plastic kiddie pool. Keep the water very shallow at first and encourage your pup to enter by stepping into the pool yourself and using a fun toy to encourage him to follow you. Dogs should be carefully introduced to a swimming pool on leash and they should never be forced to enter the water. If your dog enters the water voluntarily he should be allowed only a few strokes before being shown how to get out of the pool. This should be repeated several times until he knows exactly where the steps are. Should your dog get into difficulties in the water, carefully guide him to the steps by the leash. If he is not on leash, you should be prepared to enter the water and take hold of his collar and guide him to the steps. Once you are certain he knows how to get out of the pool he can be turned loose to enjoy himself. In order to prevent accidents, care should be taken that your dog does not have access to the pool unattended.  A pool cover is no guarantee that your dog will not enter the pool on his own, with potentially disastrous consequences. Also, keep in mind that pool chemicals can be harsh on a dog’s coat, so rinsing him off with tap water after a swim is a good idea.
Unless you’re traveling with a service animal, flying or driving are usually your only options. Buses, trains and cruises do not typically allow pets on board. But Smart Money magazine had some very helpful tips to help cut costs in the air and at your destination, including:
  • Book ASAP. Airlines allow just a few pets on board per flight, so you’ll need to book early to reserve a spot. Check safety records. If you travel with your pet in cargo, make sure that the airline has a record of few problems and deaths. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics tracks incidents by airline on a monthly basis.
  • Compare fares. Fees vary by airline and how the pet travels.
  • Get a clean bill of health. Most airlines require a health certificate and proof of vaccinations issued no more than 10 days before your flight.
  • Pick up airline miles. Some airlines (like JetBlue and Continental) add frequent-flier miles for traveling pets to their human companion’s account.
  • Look for pet-friendly hotels. There’s a dearth of pet-friendly hotels these days where your pet can stay without an extra fee. Shop around. 
Read the complete article from Smart Money at

Have a safe and fun summer everyone, and most of all, stay cool! 


  1. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  2. On this summer holiday make it such a fabulous experience though.Take long walks,go for swimming and involve your ride less often for such vacations.