5 Dog Dangers to Avoid This Summer
For many of us, summer is synonymous with fun. There are so many exciting outdoor activities to do — and many of them can be enjoyed with our dogs in tow, like hiking, camping and boating.
However, it’s important to remember that summer (and all those great outdoor adventures) come with a myriad of potential dangers, like stinging insects and water hazards. But don’t hole up inside just yet! Here are some tips on how to avoid these potential disasters, plus strategies for handling them if they do occur.
Bees, Wasps and Fire Ants
Fire ants are nasty buggers that won't hesitate to shower any dog in their path with a plethora of painful bites. Your first step is to get your dog away from the ants, then put on gloves and carefully brush off any that are still on her fur. If your pet has suffered just a few bites, you can treat them at home with baking soda paste, a cold compress or an antihistamine (ask your veterinarian to recommend the right product and appropriate dose for your dog), but if she's been bitten many times, go straight to the vet — some dogs can have a serious allergic reaction to ant bites, too.
Mosquitoes, Fleas and Ticks
Fortunately, you can plan ahead for mosquitoes, fleas and ticks by talking to your veterinarian about which preventive products are a fit for your dog. There are effective oral products, topicals and collars available, but the best choice may vary depending on your lifestyle and the types of parasites most prevalent in your area.
Sun Exposure and Heatstroke
Heatstroke is another scary summer danger. It's important to know the factors that make dogs more susceptible to heatstroke (for example, overweight dogs and dogs with short snouts are especially at risk). However, any dog can be affected if she's too active in the heat of the day or is left in a hot area without a cool place to which she can retreat.
Sand can also cause a problem if your dog gets a face full and ends up with grains in her eyes. You can try using a basic rinse for irrigating eyes from the drugstore to help wash out debris, but if you notice squinting or redness, you'll need to head in to see your veterinarian in case your dog's cornea has been scratched. Playing on hard-packed sand can help reduce the risks of both these issues.
Finally, make sure to keep an eye on what your pooch is getting into as she frolics along the shore, to make sure she's not disturbing sea turtle nests or getting into anything potentially dangerous that's been left on the beach or floated ashore, like fishing hooks, syringes or marijuana.
It's also important for you to recognize that not all dogs are natural swimmers — especially flat-faced breeds with short legs, such as Pugs and Bulldogs — so a life vest may be in order, or better yet, keep them out of the water and in a cool place in the shade. And, of course, dogs should always be supervised when in the water.
Additionally, you should always give your dog a thorough freshwater rinse after she's gone swimming in salt water or a chlorinated pool — this will prevent the chemicals from drying out her fur and skin — and towel her off, especially if she's wrinkly. And don't forget her ears! After she's gone swimming, apply an ear cleaner recommended by your veterinarian and massage the ear to make sure it's all the way in there. Your dog will probably shake right afterward, and that's OK — it'll help remove water, wax and any debris in her ears. Then just dry the outer portion of the ear canal with a cotton ball.