Summer Prep for Your Pup

Summer is finally here! Though there may be a bit of a damper on the season due to Coronavirus, you can still enjoy outings with your dog while social distancing. But there are a few preparations to consider before having fun in the sun, so here are some helpful tips to having a fun and safe summer with your dog!

 

Summer Prep for Different Types of Dogs

The first concern about summer is the heat. Different dog breeds can tolerate heat better or worse than others. For example, breeds that have shorter coats and were created in hot climates such as Greyhounds or Chihuahuas fair better than dogs from cold climates with thick fur such as Bernese Mountain Dogs. Brachycephalic (flat nosed) breeds such as Frenchies and Pekingese or dogs who are elderly or overweight are especially sensitive to the heat and more susceptible to both heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Extra care must be taken with sensitive dogs and may include very limited time outdoors, extra water, and even cooling vests. Some dogs with short, white fur and pale skin such as white Pit Bulls or Dalmatians may even get sunburn—especially on the head and snout. Doggie sunscreen is available if you feel your pup may be at risk for sunburn.

Summer Prep for Your Pup
Ernie hanging out on a beach chair. Photo courtesy of @snaggletooth_ernie

 

Fresh Summer Cuts

The past few months, many dogs have had to put up with choppy (and hilarious!) “corona-cuts” done by their owners. Luckily though— local groomers are now opened for that summer cut! While considering what type of haircut to get, don’t be quick to shave your dog down. Though it might make sense on the surface that it would make dogs cooler in the summer, shaving the hair of double-coated breeds like Huskies, Golden Retrievers or Shelties doesn’t actually keep them cooler, but hotter. It can also cause irreparable damage to the dog’s coat and skin and put them at risk of sunburn. If you’re unsure what style would be best, ask your groomer for a recommendation that will keep your dog cool and healthy this summer.

Summer Prep for Your Pup
Marshmallow the Pomeranian with his healthy summer cut. Photo courtesy of Downtown Woody’s Grooming Salon

 

Too Hot to Trot

When taking your pup outside for a walk or romp it’s important to check the temperature of the surfaces they walk on (and try to find shady pathways!). Asphalt and the sidewalk can get so hot in summer it can burn their paws. Check the ground by touching it with your hand; if it’s so hot you can’t keep your palm against it, then it’s too hot to safely walk your dog on it. The coolest and safest surfaces for dogs to walk on are grass and dirt. However, while it looks similar, Astroturf that often lines dog parks (many that are now opened!) and in-building dog runs can be 50-70 degrees hotter than actual grass and must be checked as well. If the temperature does reach so high that you think your dog may injure their paws while outside, they can wear booties or paw balm we also recommended in winter. Many local dog walkers are up and running again now too, and will be happy to take your dog out this season and prep them as you see fit.

Lilly and Wally enjoying their summer walk with Bark Buildings. Photo courtesy of Connor James Barry

 

Summer Safety and Heat Exhaustion

While outside it’s important to watch your dog’s body’s signals. Play should occur in shady areas/at dusk when possible, and with plenty of fresh water available. Summer activities (especially vigorous ones) should have time limits. Some dogs get so excited about playing or walking they don’t recognize the signs of overheating and can become ill. Another vital summer safety tip is to never leave your dog locked in a car in the summer (even with the windows down) as the temperature rises so high it could be fatal. If you’re concerned about your dog’s reaction to the heat and that they may have heat exhaustion look for the following signs: excessive panting and drooling, fatigue, a temperature over 103F, dry nose and gums, vomiting and dizziness. If this occurs take your dog into an air-conditioned space, give them tepid (not cold or ice!) water to drink, and pour tepid water over their body. If they do not improve quickly, seek veterinary attention.

Summer Prep for Your Pup
Pet Heat Chart. Photo courtesy of gopetplan.com

 

Summer Vacations with your Dog

What would summer be like without a vacation?! Bringfido.com is a great resource to find beaches and other pet-friendly places to bring your furry friend this summer in open spaces where you can still social distance. Many dogs love to swim in pools, lakes and the ocean, but water safety is just as important for pups as it is for people! Though swimming is a natural instinct for most dogs, dense or short legged breeds like Bulldogs and Corgis are not strong swimmers and should always wear a life vest. All dogs should wear a life vest if you plan to take them out on a boat. While enjoying the ocean or a pool, you must make sure your dog doesn’t drink the water as the salt or chlorine can make them sick.

Stanley exploring the beach. Photo courtesy of @hiimstanny

If you decide to take your dog on a hike make sure to pick an area your dog (and you) are capable of hiking, and ONLY allow them off leash if they are reliably off leash trained in distracting environments. Even if your dog listens well in the park, the woods and all the new sights and scents might make them run off. For an extra boost on your excursion you can take an electrolyte supplement for your dog along with their water. Keep your eye out for potentially dangerous plants as well! There is a dangerous plant called “foxtail grass” all over Jersey City. Do not allow your dog to smell or touch this plant as it can become lodged in doggy ears, eyes, nose, paws and flesh without you even noticing, and require veterinary attention.

Dangerous Foxtail grass in Jersey City. Photo by Tracie Koehnlein

 

Enjoying the Season with your Pooch

After the past few difficult months of quarantine, humans and animals alike need some summer relaxation. Take some time to make sure you and your dog are safe for the next few months, grab a backpack, some water and treats and enjoy the sunshine together!

Summer Prep for Your Pup
Brady boating on Lake Hopatcong. Photo courtesy of @missbradythelady