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Summer Dangers for Dogs and What You Can Do About Them

The summer brings sunny days, warm weather, and plenty of outdoor pet play. Before your pup starts spending long days outdoors, you need to make sure that you understand summer safety - for dogs. The more you know about summer-time pet health, the better able you are to protect your family's best furry friend.

Whether you're preparing for the upcoming summer or it's already mid-August, your pet's health is always on your mind. What do you need to know in order to keep your canine safe and sound during the warm weather months? Take a look at some of the top summer-time dog dangers and what you can do about them.

Heat and Dehydration

The warmer the weather gets, the more likely it is that your pup could experience heat-related illnesses or dehydration. Limiting your dog's exposure to the heat and sun can reduce (but might not completely eliminate) the risks. Instead of letting your dog run and play all day, limit their outdoor time, provide plenty of shade, and keep the water coming.

Heat exhaustion or heat stroke can progress from something that may seem minor to a serious, lifethreatening condition rapidly. Warning signs to look for include excessive panting, disorientation or confusion, vomiting/diarrhea, or gum color changes (to red or blue). If left untreated, heat-related signs and symptoms can move into convulsions or a full collapse.

In the case of dehydration, you may notice that your dog has dry mucous membranes (mouth or nose areas) or sunken eyes. Dehydration can also cause a dog's skin to lose elasticity, meaning that it won't spring back if you gently pull it outwards.
Again, shade, a cool environment, and plenty of fresh drinking water can help to prevent heat-related conditions. If you do see some, any or all of the symptoms of dehydration or heat-induced illness, call the veterinarian immediately.

Biting Bugs

Outdoor play provides your dog with the opportunity to exercise and enjoy the warm weather. But it also gives ticks and fleas a chance to feast on your pet. Both fleas and ticks live outdoors and can easily hop onto your pet as they run and roll through the grass.

Flea infestation and bite symptoms include visible fleas (small, dark-colored bugs) or flea dirt on your digs coat or skin, scratching, biting (the dog's own skin), scabs, or patchy hair loss. Unlike fleas, ticks may not cause your dog excessive dermatological discomfort. While you may not notice the excessive scratching seen with flea bites, you can see ticks on your dog's skin. As the tick feeds on your pet, it will grow in size.

Along with discomfort, fleas and ticks can cause blood loss, anemia and skin infections. Your dog can also carry these pests indoors, transmitting them to you and your family.

Prevention is absolutely essential when it comes to fleas and ticks. The vet can recommend a preventative medication to keep these pests away. If your dog does get fleas or a tick bite, the vet can also recommend a removal strategy. For fleas, this may involve using topical or oral treatments and cleaning your home thoroughly. For a tick, you, or the vet, will need to remove the tick fully to alleviate any serious symptoms.

Water and Swimming

While a kiddie pool filled with water can help your pup cool down, it can also pose a danger. Never assume that your dog knows how to swim and never allow your dog to play alone in water. This means that you shouldn't leave your dog outside in your backyard pool or near a pond or other natural body of water.

If your pup does jump into a chlorinated pool, keep their swim brief. The chemical-filled water isn't safe for them to drink in large quantities, and they may suffer eye or skin irritation from the chlorine.

Do you have more summer-time dog-related questions? Contact Riverfront Animal Hospital for more information.