Summer time is time for families to get out and do things together. In today’s family, that often means the inclusion of your four legged furkids too. Here are some suggestions for keeping everyone happy and healthy during the dog days of summer.
1) Car Rides: Even with the air conditioner running, it can get extremely hot in the car for a dog. On a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to between 100 and 120 degrees in just minutes, and on a 90-degree day, the interior temperature can reach as high as 160 degrees in less than 10 minutes according to an article by PETA. In less than 15 minutes, your pup can succumb to heat stroke or suffer brain damage.
Phoebe, my yellow lab, loves car rides but in the summer time I only take her for quick trips through a drive through or to Petsmart or to the dog park. We carry a travel bowl and cold water in the car and I frequently make sure she has a drink. If we are traveling long distances, we make a lot of stops for water and fresh air.
2) Hiking with your dog: Many state and national parks allow dogs on the trails but what do you need to pack to make sure you and your pooch are protected? First, make sure you always keep your pup leashed. From squirrels and snakes to deer and bears, the last thing you want (or need) is for Fido to run after the local wildlife. An encounter with something as innocent looking as a toad can cause great pain and even death for your dog. Secondly, like you, dogs can get sunburned! You should apply sunblock to sun-sensitive areas such as tips of ears, nose, belly and groin areas that typically have sparse hair coverage and thinner skin. In addition to the leash and sunblock, make sure you have plenty of water on hand for you and your dog. Last, make sure you plan your hike according to your capabilities and your dog’s. If you are both couch potatoes usually but have been bitten by the summer bug, plan a shorter hike at first and work your way into more challenging trails. After a hike check your pup out from snout to tail for unwanted passengers like ticks between toes and behind ears where they love to hide!
3) Water Activities: Some dogs like water more than others. Having two Labrador Retrievers, an “All-American Mixed Breed” and a Jackahuahua, all four of my dogs show a variety of tolerances for water. One of the funniest things is to lift the little dog out of the water and see that her feet are still paddling! I would say the first rule for swimming is to not force your dog to swim. My two labs need no invitation to get in the water whether I’m in it or not. My chocolate lab, Viola, hardly gets out of the water. She is a rescue dog we’ve had for about eight years. Her original people turned her in because she kept escaping their yard and breaking into the neighbor’s pool. My other two dogs, Bailey the mixed breed and Sophie the Jack/Chi mix need some encouragement. Bailey stands on the steps of the pool and cools her paw pads but I have never seen her swim. Sophie, on the other hand, is very motivated to be where Mom is so if I am swimming, so is Sophie.
There are many water activities you can get your dogs involved in and one of the most exciting is dock diving or dock jumping. I like to call it part of the X Games for dogs! Competitions are scored based on speed, agility, and length of the jump — from the dock’s edge to where the dog’s nose touches the water. Best of all, dock jumping is exciting and fun for people and pooches alike, and it’s a safe activity.
4) Cool Treats: If you and your family are enjoying a cool ice cream, why not have a similar treat available for your canine buddy? In your grocery store in the frozen food section, there are usually some kind of frozen pet ice cream like Frosty Paws. Real ice cream can upset your dog’s tummy plus there is too much sugar for the pet to process. If you would like to make your own frosty frenzy take a ripe banana, a cup of yogurt and a tablespoon of peanut butter, blend and freeze. I put this mixture in the old-fashioned ice cube maker tray and freeze. Bailey and Phoebe love plain ice cubes but go crazy for this treat. Even Viola and Sophie love it.
Summer time is a great time for everyone as long as you make the responsible choices. Always take plenty of water with you whatever your activity for you and for your fur-baby. Always clean up after dog! And last but not least, always have fun as a family!