By Fran Buell, APDT
Bare Paw Dog Obedience
Summer is here and with it comes the responsibility of dog owners to "summerize" their canine companion. Your pet not only needs to be protected from the heat summer brings, you also need to minimize other health threats associated with the summer months and the increased exposure to the outdoors. Summer is the season for fleas, ticks and heartworms; get the protection for your dog that he needs. Groom your pet frequently to remove burrs, thorns, spear grass and other foreign objects that could harm or make him uncomfortable. When walking in the out of doors, bring a safe supply of drinking water to avoid the possibility of him drinking water that may be contaminated with parasites, bacteria or toxins. When you are hiking in rocky areas with your dog, check his paw pads frequently for possible scrapes, cuts or other injuries.
It is very important to keep your dog cool, as he cannot regulate his body temperature by sweating. Provide fresh, cool water often. Ice cubes in his bowl is a good idea if it is extremely hot outside. If your dog is outside, you should also provide shade and a cool surface to lie on. Freezing a toy bone and giving it to him on a hot day for him to chew on offers a cool treat. An inexpensive child's swimming pool can provide a clean, cool place for him to take a refreshing dip on a hot day.
Warm weather does not mean you should stop taking him out for a walk. You can limit your walking to early morning or late evenings when it is cooler. Use reflective collars and leashes if your walk occurs after dusk. If you do walk during midday, avoid blacktop surfaces to prevent paw pad burns.
If you like to take your dog swimming in a lake, pond or stream, do it safely. Make sure the current is not too strong, and that there are no underwater hazards or high bacteria count in the water. You might want to rinse your canine off to remove debris from his coat, and that will also get rid of unwanted parasites. Be sure to dry the inside of his ears thoroughly to prevent infection.
If your dog spends a lot of time in your yard, check it out for hazards such as cracked or frayed electrical cords, jagged or torn landscaping edging and rusty yard decorations. If you fertilize, keep your canine off the lawn according to package directions. Keeping your dog away from compost piles and gardens may prevent him from eating poisonous plants or bulbs.
When traveling and taking road trips, review and update your first aid kit. Allow frequent stops for stretching and exercise, especially if you confine him to a crate while traveling. One of the most important safety measures to observe while traveling is never leaving your pet in a vehicle for any amount of time. Even with windows open a small amount, your dog can suffer heatstroke, which can lead to death.
Have fun this summer with your canine by keeping him safe, healthy and happy. Questions? E-mail email@example.com. Happy training.