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Keep Your Dogs Safe in Summer

Here are a few tips to help avoid problems caused by the heat of summer:

  1. As dogs can’t perspire (lose heat through their skin), they can soon become overheated in hot weather. A dog that is getting hot pants in order to cool itself. If you see excessive panting, drooling and restlessness, you need to take action. Heatstroke is a medical emergency and you should act quickly by bathing the dog in cool (but not ice cold) water and wrapping him in a damp towel. Take the dog to the vet as soon as possible as the body temperature needs to return to normal before permanent damage is done.
  2. Never leave your dog unattended in the car on a warm day, even for a short period of time. Even if your car is parked in the shade, the dog is still at risk of overheating. The sun can move round and soon your shaded parking spot could be in the full glare of the sun. The car will soon become like an oven inside, to the detriment of your dogs’ health.
  3. If you see a dog locked in a car on a hot day, make every effort to find the owner and/or get the dog out.
  4. Make sure when you dog is outside on hot days that he has a plentiful supply of fresh water and a shaded area to lie in.
  5. Dogs often moult in summer, so it is necessary to groom him regularly. Removing loose hair will help keep the dog feeling cool and comfortable, and stop the coat from tangling.
  6. Take this grooming time to check for fleas, ticks and wounds. Grass seeds can work themselves through the coat and embed themselves in the skin. Take care to check that the dogs’ pads are not cracked.
  7. If your dog is long-coated, consider giving him a summer haircut, but ensure that no skin is exposed and therefore at risk of sunburn.
  8. If you live near the beach and allow your dog to swim and play in the sand, make sure that you rinse him off as soon as possible afterwards, as sand and salt water can be very irritating if left to dry on the coat. Don’t forget to take a bowl and plenty of drinking water when visiting the beach.
  9. If your dog loves playing in water, be aware of how much time and energy he is spending in there. Although retrieving games can be fun, they can also be exhausting, especially for very young or older dogs who don’t always have thee sense to stop when they are tired.
  10. Don’t let your dog swim in very cold water – generally what is too cold for humans iss too cold for dogs.
  11. Be aware of tides and currents. Keep a close eye if your dog swims in open water to see that he doesn’t get tired and unable to climb up a steep or slippery bank to get out.
  12. Dogs shouldn’t be allowed to drink from puddles or stagnant ponds. These may contain blue-green algae, which can be extremely dangerous.
  13. Ensure that garages and shed doors are kept closed so that the dog can’t wander in there to escape from the heat. There are all too many cases of dogs eating weed killer of slug repellents. They could even just walk over a toxic area, and then later lick their paws and ingest the poison. If you suspect that this has happened, contact your vet immediately for advice on what to do.
  14. Insect stings are more prevalent in summer, and usually occur on the paws, nose or mouth. Some animals have an allergic reaction to insect stings and the throat can swell and prevent breathing. Get your dog to the vet immediately if you think it has been stung in the face, especially near the mouth.
  15. Bee stings are acid, to remove the sting and bathe the area in bicarbonate of soda.
  16. Wasp stings are alkali, and the sting is not left in the skin. To soothe the area, bathe it in vinegar.
  17. If your dog gets bitten by a snake, seek veterinary help urgently.
  18. Grass seeds often get lodged in the dogs’ eyes or ears. So if your dog starts to shake his head, or if his ears start smelling, check them for seeds.
  19. Ticks and fleas increase in the warmer months. Use a good tick and flea product to ensure that your dog doesn’t succumb to biliaria.
  20. Don’t allow your dog to hang his head out of the window when travelling in the car. It is not uncommon for dirt to get swept into the dogs’ eye.
  21. More people braai in spring and summer – make sure your dog does not get hold of any cooked bones that might be left over. This could result in an impaction or perforation of the intestine, which could require an operation.
  22. Don’t exercise your dog in the middle of the day. Dogs will often accompany you on a walk, and run the risk of overexertion, sore pads from melted tar, or even heatstroke.
  23. Change water regularly as it can evaporate or become dirty.
  24. Wash food and water bowls regularly to avoid contamination by flies or other insects.

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