Summer Safety For Dogs

Summer is arguably the best time of year to be a dog. The trails and sidewalks are ready to explore, long walks and trips to the beach, and the air is filled with exciting new smells drifting on the warm breeze. However, the warmest months can also be the most dangerous for dogs and important steps should be taken to ensure their safety so they can enjoy the summer as much as we do.

Here’s some quick tips to help ensure your pup’s well being for the exciting months ahead including some of the often overlooked essentials of exercise, travel, and beach visits.

Always make sure they have access to drinking water and shade. Give them plenty of water in the morning to start their day and again after sundown to help them recover. Dogs should drink 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight each day to stay hydrated during the hot summer months. When leaving them at home, dogs should remain indoors or in the yard with access to water in a well-shaded area.

Avoid the sun. As with any time of the year, it’s important for dogs to exercise regularly during the summer. Because midsummer afternoons can be so hot, it is best to plan your daily jaunt when the air is cooler, in the morning or evening. During these low-light hours, it’s important to make sure your dog is highly visible, whether outfitting them with reflective accessories or a dog safety light.

Plan your route accordingly. Urban areas can get blazing hot during the summertime and often provide little protection from the sun. Hot pavement is uncomfortable for dogs and can even hurt them, so try to keep them on the grass whenever possible. Well-shaded routes, especially trails and parks, are great locations because of the cooler air and coverage from the trees. Taking your dog to a place with a natural water source such as a lake or stream generally means the air is cooler and allows them to stay refreshed along the way.

Hydrate. When taking your dog out on the town, give them water every 15 to 20 minutes. Like people, dogs only absorb a small percentage of their water intake, so it’s important to wait until their panting slows to give them large quantities. Keeping a bottle of water and a folding dog bowl handy to never miss these vital hydration opportunities.

Pay attention to the humidity. Dogs don’t sweat to get rid of heat – they pant. When the air is moist, it’s more difficult for them to circulate that air to stay cool.

Know their limit. The ideal air temperature for dogs varies with the breed. Short haired breeds cool off faster. Dogs with thick coats should be kept groomed to get rid of any matted hair because it can trap the heat trying to leave their body. Furthermore, while dogs are often faster than humans, they don’t have the same endurance capabilities. Frequent breaks are essential for dogs to keep going – so if they want to pause to lay in the shade or whiff that hydrant on the side of the road – let them.

Never leave them in the car unattended. Automobiles trap heat and can jump from 85 to 120 degrees in as little as 30 minutes on a sunny day. While the exact number of dogs who die from heatstroke each year is largely unknown, a case study by Hebrew University shows the death rate to be approximately 50%. When driving, either run your AC or crack the windows. Collapsible travel bowls, are a convenient way to make sure your dog stays nourished on long trips.

Keep them secure. Going on a summer vacation sometimes means taking the family dog along for the ride. Crazy things can happen when a dog is allowed to run freely throughout the vehicle, especially one with lots of energy or anxiety. The distraction caused by canines can be extremely dangerous to dogs and people alike. The NHTSA claims that distracted driving accounted for 3,450 human fatalities in 2016 and AAA shares two thirds of dog owners engage in distracted behaviors while on the road while. Because of this, dogs should be consolidated to the back end of the vehicle. If the back is too full or if you prefer to let them ride in the seat, a dog car restraint will limit their mobility and minimize distractions. For additional safety, consider a certified crash tested harness designed to protect them in the unfortunate event of an accident.

Consider a life vest. A dog flotation device can be a life saver for any dog who spends time near the water. These function similarly to a life vest for a human but are designed specifically for dogs to help maintain their natural swimming position. A good dog life jacket will be sturdy and highly visible, incorporating bright colors and reflective hardware. A grab handle on the back of the life vest can also help to guide a dog in and out of the water or help them into a boat.

Important: A standard dog life jacket may be too cumbersome for smaller dogs, so make sure you get one that’s designed specifically with smaller dogs in mind.

Keep them protected from the sun. Before paying a visit to the beach, people lather themselves in sunscreen to protect themselves from the sun’s harsh rays. Dogs, especially ones with white fur, are no exception and are also susceptible to ultraviolet radiation. While a dog sunscreen may be a solution, it can also wear off when they go into water and cause dirt to stick to their fur. To get the most out of a visit to the beach, use a dog rashguard. These swim shirts are made from an athletic material that will protect them from the sun with the added benefits of keeping them cool and preventing rashes. Rashies also keep sand from accumulating in dogs’ fur, so at the end of the day they can go home clean!

Experiencing summer to the fullest with a dog is the best feeling in the world. Whether it’s a trip to the beach or a late evening walk, it’s important we do everything we can to keep them healthy and safe for the many summers to come. Practicing these safety tips, will help you and your dog to get the most out of the best season the year has to offer.


Now Go and Play!

Canine Heroines

Dogs Can Be Heroes Too

Dwight D. Eisenhower hit the nail on the head when he said:“What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” Throughout the centuries, dogs have been known for their unsurpassed love and devotion, often coming to the rescue of their human counterparts in time of need. Man’s best friend has become heroes in countless ways, from being guide dogs to the blind to performing daring rescues and keeping us safe by sniffing out drugs, firearms and explosives, asking nothing in return but to be loved and cared for and enjoying some playful interaction from time to time.

While dogs are often seen as heroes simply by being loyal companions, many go over and above the call of duty, putting aside their fun, goofy mannerisms and utilizing their intelligence and instincts to the max. They selflessly take a leap of faith, often putting their own lives at risk to save a human life. There are countless tales of heroic dogs, such as the following, that leaves one almost giddy with love and appreciation for some of the most heroic canine companions ever to have lived.

Target, the hero of war

Chris Duke, a Georgia National Guardsman, owes his life to three street-bound dogs he befriended while serving his country in Afghanistan. The dogs, which were named Rufus, Sasha and Target alerted Duke’s unit of a suicide bomber that was approaching their barracks. The bomber was attacked and bitten by the dogs, detonating his bomb before reaching the entrance to the barracks. Sadly Sasha sustained such severe injuries that she had to be put down – luckily the other two dogs fully recovered. When Duke returned home he told the story of the hero dogs that saved his life – leading to a successful fund-raising initiative which saw Rufus and Target being brought over to the USA.

Duke adopted Rufus while Target went to live with Sgt Terry Young who also survived the same attack.  Due to her not being used to confined spaces, Target escaped from her yard in November 2010 and was subsequently picked up by animal control. Sgt Young found her after checking the shelter’s website and went the following Monday to fetch her, only to find that she was mistakenly euthanized.

The 9/11 canine heroes

The attacks of September 11, 2001, still haunt a large portion of the world but thanks to a group of brave and charismatic canines, hope was found amongst the wreckage of the World Trade Center. More than 300 trained search-and-rescue dogs assisted firefighters, police officers and rescue workers in their efforts to locate survivors.  If it wasn’t for one such rescue dog, Trakr, Port Authority secretary Genelle Guzman-McMillan would not have been alive today. Genelle was trapped amidst the rubble of the South Tower for more than 27 hours before Trakr found her. Most of the 9/11 rescue dogs worked tirelessly for as long as 12 hours at a time, successfully rescuing countless people who otherwise would probably have died.

Dogs are, in general, amazing animals, showering us with their unconditional love. They have an uncanny ability to detect when a human (or even another animal) is in danger and will do everything in their power to help save a life. While they might not receive the same recognition as their human contemporaries do, the valiant efforts of the various canine heroes across the globe are nothing short of praiseworthy.

Original copy by Lucy Benson

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