Spring has finally sprung. Summer is just around the corner. This time of year can be full of fun and adventure for you and your dog (did someone say cottages, swimming, roadtrips?), but there are also some things we need to be diligent about if we are to keep our pups happy, healthy and safe. [Please be advised that I am not a medical professional and everything I post here is just FROM MY EXPERIENCE and word of mouth from the doggy community that I am part of--ALWAYS consult your veterinarian if you have questions or concerns.]
This is a big one for me because George is a TICK MAGNET. Not all ticks are carriers of Lyme disease though, so I don't freak out every time I find a tick on George. As long as it's removed promptly (within 24 hours) there is a very slight chance that the tick has transmitted a disease to your dog, if that tick is even the type that CARRIES the disease, let alone is a tick that HAS the disease. Alas, there is a Lyme Vaccine for dogs. Again, I'm not going to give any medical advice but if Lyme is prevalent in your area and you are concerned about it, talk to your vet. I haven't decided yet if George will get the Lyme vaccine...I read too many articles online that send me back and forth. I don't want to over-vaccinate but then again, I don't want him getting any of these diseases. This is the constant internal battle that I face, I will be discussing our options with my vet in coming weeks. I have started putting Rose Geranium oil on George before we go out on adventures as I read that this is a MIRACLE TICK REPELLANT. I don't know why or how it works, but apparently it does. I did not hesitate to put it on my own ankles and wrists to prevent those little buggers from latching on to me. Your pup sure will smell pretty if nothing else. I will keep you posted on if this works or not. So far, no ticks! (He usually comes home everyday with 1+ but not since we started the RGO).
Now this is something I really don't know a lot about and you should definitely talk to you vet in regards to preventative measures for HW. I just know that it's VERY BAD if your dog contracts HW. It is painful, potentially fatal and very expensive to treat. There are HW pills you can administer monthly (sometimes just during HW season and sometimes year round-depending where you live and how prevalent HW is in your region). It is becoming more common in Ontario, or so I have heard. TALK TO YOUR VET.
Dogs can only expel heat through panting and the pads of their paws. They can't sweat through their skin like we can, and they cant take off their furry sweaters. It is paramount that we take diligent care of them in the summer to prevent serious heat exhaustion. Excessive panting, lying down and not getting back up, red gums, vomiting, pale gums, bright red tongue, and disorientation are all symptoms of heat stroke in dogs.
Obviously, never leave your dog in a hot car unattended. It literally only takes a few minutes for the inside of a car to reach very high temperatures (especially with black interior, sunroof, untinted windows). This can be a problem, as a dog walker, because I need to run into houses to pick up dogs. It literally only takes about a minute to do so but on the really hot days I'll leave my car running with the AC on. I also don't want anyone to think I am a horrible animal abuser by leaving 3-4 dogs in my car while I run to get another one. I'm thinking of putting a sign on my window or something explaining this...but for now I will just leave the car running--it's the best solution so long as someone doesn't steal my car with 4 waiting dogs! HA!
DO NOT smash someone's window if you do see a dog inside. You are breaking the law and will be charged to repair it. Assess the situation. How hot is it outside? Does the dog look to be in distress? Again, this is a problem I find myself faced with because George has some separation anxiety and will bark when I run out of car for two seconds. He hates being left behind. Even if he can still see me. If the dog looks happy and relaxed then keep walking--or stick around to ensure the situation doesn't escalate, but DO NOT JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS. You won't be doing the dog or yourself any favours if you smash the owner's car window. If you are concerned, you can call the Ottawa Humane Society hotline--they will tell you whether the temperature is hot enough outside to warrant an investigation and they will talk you through how to determine if the dog is in distress or not (if it's not obvious).
Asphalt gets very hot in the sun so hold the back of your hand against it for 7 seconds to determine if it will burn your pup's paws. Have them walk on grass or in the shade when possible, put booties on or apply paw wax to keep them happy and burn free.
There's a lot of plant life in the spring and summer so know what is poisonous for your dogs and keep them away from it! Be aware that your dog may run through poison ivy etc and pass it along to YOU. (Dog's aren't effected by it but humans are and the oils can easily transfer to our skin just by petting fido or having them brush against our legs).
Environmental allergies are becoming more prone in dogs as well...another thing that George suffers from. If your dog is constantly scratching, licking etc there is a good chance he either needs a change in diet or has some type of allergy (or other skin irritation). Talk to you vet! When George is going crazy scratching, I give him a tiny bit of liquid Benadryl in his supper. This works wonders and he sleeps all evening. I want to try Colloidal Silver as I have a friend who used this on her pup with extremely bad allergies and raw paws. It worked wonders on her. George doesn't have any visual skin irritations though so I'm not sure if it will have the same effect. Coconut Oil is also a good thing to ad to your pups diet occasionally or to apply to skin irratations, sore paws, etc.
These two things happen a lot in the summer. And a lot of pets go missing as a result. Join the Ottawa Valley Lost Pet Network on Facebook. It is an AMAZING group of people who share lost or found pets online. Countless pets have been reunited with their owners because of the page--I've used it myself when I've found a lost pet 4 separate times! Keep your pets inside or tethered when there are fireworks or thunderstorms. Compression shirts can really help calm a dog down when something scary is happening (such as a thunderstorms, fireworks, car rides, vet trips etc).
There is nothing better than playing in the water with your pup on a hot day. Even just watching dogs play in the water is fun. Be aware of water intoxication-- your dog can get extremely sick if he swallows too much water. This can happen when playing fetch etc. Also be aware of Blue-Green Algae. This is EXTREMELY poisonous to your pets and yourself. Look it up. Don't let your dog swim when you suspect BG Algae.
If your dog isn't a good swimmer but you want to take him in a boat--invest in a lifejacket. I used to laugh at dogs who wore lifejackets but it is a key safety precaution. If fido jumps out, or there's a boating accident, a lifejacket will greatly increase chances of survival. Lifejackets are also a good tool to teach dogs how to swim. A lot of dogs like splashing around but once they can't touch bottom--the turn back. Swimming is an AMAZING source of exercise for your dog and it is very calming (and as mentioned, FUN!). I've heard that throwing floating treats into shallow water--slowing leading to deeper water, is an easy way to get fido to take the plunge.
"SMOOSHED FACE" PUPS
Be very careful in the heat if you have a short snouted dog (pug, bulldog, even boxers!). They cannot cool themselves down as effectively as larger, longer snouted dogs. Their pallets swell and they can begin vomiting. They overheat very easily so be wary and keep them inside if its going to be too hot.
Use common sense, read online, join some facebook groups, educate yourself and you and your pet will have the best summer!