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Summer Safety Tips for you and your Dog

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It is all too easy to predict that summer 2014 in Allentown, Pennsylvania and the surrounding regions is going to be extremely hot and humid. Though the climate may be perfect for splashing around in the pool, enjoying the outdoors, going on car rides, or going on vacation, it can also bring about complications when it comes to keeping your dog safe. The hot weather, and summer activities, can put your dog at risk of injury, by keeping a few safety tips in mind and putting them into practice you can keep your canine friend safe and healthy during the summer months.

Backyard safety

  • First and foremost, keep your dog hydrated at all times. Always have cold water accessible for your dog to drink. Small breeds can be rather stubborn when it comes to drinking water, in this case, provide homemade frozen pops made from unsweetened apple juice, or doggy ice cream from the pet store.
  • Just like humans, dogs’ skin must be protected from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Melanoma can occur in all dogs, but breeds with darker skin have more melanin and are in greater risk of getting skin cancer if unprotected. Steer clear from using human sun block on your dog which can sometimes contain toxic or harmful ingredients. The safest option is to buy canine sun block wipes at the pet store, and wipe your dog’s skin, nose, ears, and paws, before going outdoors.
  • Provide a shaded area, where your dog can go to get out of the sun. A tent, dog house, or even an outdoor table draped in an airy tablecloth, are great areas where they can go under or into to say cool.
  • Cooling Mats are great for dogs to lie on, and cool off from the summer sun; you can find these at any pet store.
  • Remember, everyone has a limit, even if your dog looks like they are still having fun, have them come inside every half hour or so, or when it gets too hot. Let them cool off in an air conditioned room for a while before letting them out again.
  • Summer is the season when dogs spend the most time playing outdoors, so make sure your fence is secure and gates are always locked. Also, if you allow your dog to spend time in an enclosed front porch, to watch cars and people go by, remember to lock the porch door to prevent your dog from sneaking out and onto the street.
  • Never leave your dog outside while you are away at work, shopping, or running errands and under no circumstances should you leave your dog spend the night outdoors. Dogs could suffer from dehydration and heat stroke if left out in hot arid conditions, even for a short period of time, which could result in death.

Water Safety

  • The most important water safety tip is to never leave your dog unattended while playing around or in a pool.
  • If your dog is small or is not a strong swimmer, make sure to dress them in appropriate water safety gear.
  • Underground pools should be gated to prevent accidental drowning.
  • If your dog wants to remain in the pool with you but can’t swim for long periods of time, have them relax on a safe floatation device while you splash around, but always keep an eye on them.
  • When at the ocean or river, equip you dog with a water safety vest, whether they are strong swimmers or not. Never let them go into deep water, and watch out for underwater predators.
  • Know when to call it quits, bring your dog out onto dry land if they become tired. Give them enough time to drink water, take a necessary potty break, or even have a nice relaxing nap before going back into the water.

Car Safety

  • You should never leave your dog in a car by themselves, especially during summer. The temperature in a car climbs quickly, turning the car into an oven, and can result in heat stroke, organ damage, coma and death.
  • When traveling in a car, ideally, your dog should be buckled into a safety belt or canine car seat, to protect them from injury in case of a car accident.
  • Everyone knows that dogs love poking their heads out the car window. While this might be fun, letting them hang their heads out with the windows down, can result in injury, if your dog is thrown out of the car or sideswiped by a vehicle traveling on an adjacent lane.

Park and Walk Safety

  • Keep your dog on a leash when on walks and in unfenced parks.
  • When going to the park, bring along water, misting bottle to keep your dog’s skin cool, a blanket to put down on the ground for resting, and “clean-up” baggies to pick up feces and discard it appropriately.
  • Your dog should always have his collar on, with ID tag, license tag, and Rabies vaccine tag. This will help bring your dog home if he is lost and found.
  • It is PA law for your dog to have a current license and rabies vaccination. It is extremely important to comply with the law; this will ensure that you have proof of ownership and protect you from fines and other penalties.
  • Vaccinating your dog against the Rabies virus will protect him from this deadly disease if he is bitten by an infected animal while outdoors or in the unfortunate case that your dog nips or bites another person or animal and it is reported to the authorities, it will keep your dog from being seized.
  • Socializing your dog early in life can prevent such cases from happening. However, if you have a “non-vicious” dog that simply does not play well with others and does not respond to behavioral training, you can prevent dangerous situations by keeping your dog secure on a leash while on walks or in the park, and if possible using an appropriately sized muzzle on your dog if other dogs and people are present. If you are not comfortable with putting a muzzle on your dog, you can walk your dog during hours when you know that there is a low level of activity in your neighborhood. Perhaps, the early morning hours, when you can have a nice peaceful walk together without distractions.
  • When letting your friendly dog play with others, make sure the other dogs are up-to-date on vaccines and that they are also dog friendly. Never approach a dog without asking permission from their owner.
  • Check your dog for ticks and fleas after a day at the park. Having your dog on monthly preventatives that protect them from heartworm, ringworms, fleas, and ticks can protect your dog from contracting harmful diseases.

On Vacation

When your dog comes along

  • Before going on vacation, make an appointment with your Veterinarian for a complete check-up. Make sure your dog is up-to-date on vaccines and that they are healthy enough to go on the trip.
  • If you are traveling by bus or airplane, ensure that the pet’s carrier is big enough for your dog and that it is comfortable. Prepare the carrier with a blanket, water dispenser, and a favorite toy to keep him comforted. It is always a good idea to have your Veterinarian prescribe a mild sedative for your dog to reduce anxiety during the flight.

When your dog stays behind

  • If your dog has medical issues, anxiety issues, or has any other type of sensitivities, it is not a good idea to take them along on a vacation trip if you have to travel on an airplane.
  • If you leave your dog at home, whether you have a friend or relative stay at the house with them or stop by the house every day, make sure you leave specific instructions for the caretaker regarding food and water, medications, walk/backyard safety, and instructions in case of medical emergencies.
  • Leave a phone number for the caretaker, in case they have to contact you
  • Give your caretaker suggestions on how to keep your dog active and content.
  • Never leave your dog in the care of a stranger. If you do not have anyone you can rely on to care for your dog while you’re away, choose a kennel that has a good reputation, and is run by trustworthy owners and employees. Ask questions and take a tour of the facility before choosing the right kennel
  • Before leaving your dog at a kennel, vaccinate your dog against kennel cough and other health conditions that can be transmitted by other dogs boarding at the kennel.
  • Again, leaving specific instructions regarding your pet's care, and contact number is extremely important. Check up on your dog by calling the kennel at least once or twice a week.
  • Always have a plan in case of unforeseen circumstances, you should always have someone, a close friend or relative, who would be willing to keep your pet if you were to suffer accidental death or severe life-threatening injury during your vacation, though it may seem like a morose idea, realistically it is something that can happen.
  • Kennels will surrender a pet to a shelter or humane society if an owner fails to pick up their pet. You do not want your dog to end up in a shelter, so make plans as to who will keep your dog in case of accidental death, or care for your dog for an extended period if you are severely injured and have to remain in a hospital for a prolonged period of time.

Summer is an ideal season to enjoy the outdoors with your pet. Keep your dog busy with fun activities, whether it's playing fetch, going for a swim, walk, jog, or car ride, whatever you choose to do, always keep your dog happy, healthy, and safe by following the tips mentioned. Have fun with your dog and cherish your summers together, and don't forget to take lots of photos to remember all the great summers you have with one another.

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