In different parts of the country, summer varies in intensity but it’s hot just about everywhere. We prepare and protect ourselves by drinking more water, wearing sunscreen, sunglasses, FLIP FLOPS, mosquito repellant! And when we don’t do these things we sometimes regret the consequences.
Let's remember that our pets need protection, just as we do. As a dog owner and dog lover, I'd like to share 5 Common Mistakes in Caring for our Dogs in Summer:
THEY ARE EATING SO SHOULD I. Your dog believes that they should be eating when you are. So at summer barbecues, you prepare a plate for your pet, knowing that he or she will love you for it. Your pet already loves you so please don’t do it! While you may be choosing lean bits of beef or chicken for your pet, there are spices that we commonly use to season our meat that are toxic to animals. Garlic and especially onions are toxic to dogs. If you must let them feel that they are eating when you do, save back a little of their daily measure of pet food and give it to them at the time that “everyone else” is enjoying their meal. They won’t know the difference. Be sure to let your guests know that you don’t want your pet to have anything from their plate, and point out containers for disposing of food scraps. Casual summer cook outs invite stomach ailments for pets that can quickly become serious. Especially with bones that can lodge in their digestive tracts.
FRESH WATER. Essential and should be provided several times a day if the pet is kept outdoors (which is unacceptable in Texas heat—or any warm climate--outdoors must mean protected by shade with a way for the pet to stay cool, and they should be properly fenced).
HEARTWORM MEDS AREN’T NECESSARY. You: “There aren’t many mosquitos around so I don’t need to protect my dog from heartworms.” Truth: There’s a common myth that dogs contract heartworms by drinking from standing water that contains mosquito larvae. The fact is that dogs contract heartworms from the bite of a mosquito, if the mosquito has previously bitten an infected animal. There are a number of preventive medicines that can be prescribed by your veterinarian. I give my dog a medication that protects against both heartworms and fleas and ticks. He hates it but I put it in a tablespoon of peanut butter, which works like a charm! He doesn’t notice the medicine is in there.
HOT PAVEMENT. You’re out for a walk on a nice summer afternoon, your dog happily walking along beside you, enjoying the sights and smells. And suddenly your dog seems to be in pain and shifting their feet about on the pavement. Yes, many of us have seen this. Someone walking their pet completely unaware that their dog’s pads are being burned by hot pavement. Dogs can incur serious burns if they are left on hot pavement, and this is especially true in smaller breeds with more tender paws. If you must walk on pavement, try taking your walk in the cooler hours of the morning or in the evening when things have cooled off.
LEFT IN THE CAR. Most of us know better but inevitably people do it. Be warned, that if I were to walk past a car and see a pet inside that was suffering from the heat, something would happen to the windows in that car. If the doors were locked.
One last suggestion. Please carry a bag to pick up your dog’s waste when out walking. While it’s true that many people fail to do this, we should be the exception and do the right thing. I have seen dog owners leave their pet’s waste in the middle of the sidewalk. Really not nice! What a rude way to “mess up” a family picnic! Not to mention other environmental concerns.
Our dogs love us unconditionally and depend on us for their proper care and well-being. Let’s return the love by giving them the care they deserve.
Photo above is of my dog, Gus, cooling off at the Guadalupe River.