According to a report from Animal Planet, it used to be quite “common for dogs to live their entire lives outside in suburban and urban yards.” Of course, today most dog owners keep their pooches inside for the majority of the day.
That makes it doubly important to take your pet on outdoor adventures. And what better time to hit the dog park, trails, or lake than during the dog days of summer? However, if you love your dog — and we know you do! — then you want to make sure your dog is well prepared for any outdoor adventure.
So what safety precautions should you consider whenever taking your dog on an outdoor adventure?
Here are a few really important considerations to keep in mind:
High Temperatures and Heat Stroke
Because every dog breed and climate are different, there’s no exact point at which high temperatures become unsafe for dogs. However, short-nosed breeds, also known as brachycephalic breeds, are especially vulnerable to high temperatures. In general, brachycephalic dogs (think shih tzus and pugs), older dogs, long-haired dogs, and obese dogs are most at risk on really hot summer days and should be given access to air conditioning. In addition to breed sensitivities, dogs, just like their human counterparts, may have individual sensitivities to temperature that should be taken into account. It is also incredibly important to never leave your dog in a car without air conditioning no matter the time of year.
Ticks, Ticks, and More Ticks
Pest experts warn that Summer 2017 is going to be a dangerous tick season in many areas of the country. So keep things very simple: if your dog has not yet received tick treatment, do not take them to wooded outdoor areas where ticks are likely to be found. Period. While your overactive puppy might love a trip to the Great Outdoors this summer, you should wait until he or she has been treated by your veterinarian for ticks and fleas.
Don’t Forget To Hydrate
Just like people need a supply of water on any outdoor adventure, dogs do too. Make sure you have enough water for all human and animal members of your party, especially if you’re going hiking or anywhere else without running water.
Remember: dogs pant to cool down, so that’s not necessarily a bad sign. What are the warning signs of dehydration in dogs? Watch out for lethargy, sudden loss of appetite, dry mouth, and other changes in behavior.
Watch Out For Other Animals
Whether you own an urban, suburban, or farm dog, they probably already have more than a passing familiarity with squirrels. However, not all wild animals are so innocuous. On hiking trips (or any visit to rocky, mountainous, or desert terrain), you need to take special care to avoid snakes. At our Tucson animal hospital in the Southwest, rattlesnakes pose a particular hazard to our pet patients. In the past, we’ve written about what to do after a pet rattlesnake bite . Always take your pup to an emergency veterinary center or animal hospital after a snake bite (even non-venomous snake bites can get infected easily), but prevention is the best medicine.
Consider keeping your dog on the leash in areas full of snakes.
Have An Emergency Plan
In the days before smartphones, virtually every parent had a list of emergency phone numbers taped to the front of the fridge at all times. No matter how you store phone numbers, make sure you know exactly what to do in case of a pet emergency. According to Statistic Brain, at least 46,300,000 American households include dogs, so you’re sure to find an animal hospital or emergency vet wherever you go on your outdoor adventure.
If you’re traveling with your dog, take the time to locate a few animal hospitals and emergency veterinary services near your destination.