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Summertime Safety Tips
Everything you need to know to keep your pets safe in and out of the water this summer. See below for everything you need to know to ensure your pet has the best summer ever!
Personal Floatation Devices
All dogs are not good swimmers even some retrievers. That is where a personal flotation device (PFD) comes into play! Find one that is well made, fits comfortably, and is of a bright color to ensure your dog is seen in and out of the water. Try to avoid any camouflage print...although it's a cool fashion statement, your dog is not hunting in the water!
PFDs will keep your dog upright in the water and your dog will tire less when swimming. You can have a leash attached along with a light to ensure visibility as the sun starts to set. In open water PFDs can be seen by boaters, skiers, and jet skiers alike.
When introducing a dog to the water for the first time, remember to go slow and be patient! Approach the water/swimming to a dog's comfort level and his own pace and be sure reward the dog for moving forward in the water. If you can accompany the dog in the water, try to do so. Getting comfortable in the water takes time, so do not be surprised if your dog is not a fan of the water for the first few attempts. Be mindful that some dogs are afraid of water regardless of their breed, and pushing them to swim will only make matters worse. Lastly, be aware of your water environment! Each water environment offers their own set of risks, such as the ocean (rip currents, large waves), lakes (lots of boaters), and rivers (fast moving water).
If you plan on taking your dog with you on the boat this summer, always be prepared for any situation. Make sure your dog is wearing a life jacket and their collar with updated tags at all times. Be sure to have a leash nearby in case you plan on going to shore to take them on a potty break, and have fresh water available at all times. If possible, offer them a beach towel or blanket they know they are allowed to lay on out of the sun to find relief in the shade.
Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool—not all dogs are good swimmers! Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine from his fur, and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals.
Life's Made in the Shade
Okay, this may be an obvious one but ALWAYS make sure your pet has a shady place to lay out of the sun's heat. If your dog spends lots of time outdoors or in the backyard, the summer heat can cause temperatures to rise and can make your dog become heat exhausted if they have no shady place to retire to. And of course, always have fresh water available at all times and update frequently to avoid bacteria build up.
If you plan on taking your dog on daily walks in the summer months, it is best to do so either early in the morning or later evening. This way, your dog is more comfortable walking on the pavement which can become scorching hot during the day.
Sunscreen for dogs? Yes, it exists! Believe it or not, dogs can easily get a sunburn just like humans can. There are plenty of pet-friendly, all-natural sunscreens on the market these days. One that we have used and swear by is one by My Dog Nose It! If your dog enjoys spending hours on end outdoors and in the water, investing in a pet sunscreen is essential for the hot summer months.
NEVER Leave Your Pet In a Hot Car!
Remember this motto: if it's too hot for you or for a child, it's too hot for your pet. Temperatures in a vehicle - even with the windows down - can rise in minutes. According to Peta,
"Every year, dogs suffer and die when their guardians make the mistake of leaving them in a parked car—even for “just a minute”—while they run an errand. Parked cars are deathtraps for dogs: On a 78-degree day, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to 100 degrees in just minutes, and on a 90-degree day, the interior temperature can reach as high as 109 degrees in less than 10 minutes."
Your pet can become uncomfortable, dehydrated, or worse. Most states now have laws where pet owners cannot leave their pets in hot cats, allowing the public to break a window if deemed necessary. See a complete list of states that have laws protecting animals in a car here.
If you are unsure how long your errand will take, it's always best to leave your pets at home or take them inside with you if possible. If you ever see a dog left alone in a hot car, take down the car’s color, model, make, and license plate number. Have the owner paged in the nearest building(s), or call local humane authorities or police if you feel there is danger to the animal. #SafetyFirst
Know the signs. Symptoms can include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. If you are unsure if your pet is suffering from overheating, contact your local vet.
BBQs & Parties
Remember that food and drink commonly found at barbecues can be poisonous to pets. Keep alcoholic beverages away from pets. Snacks enjoyed by your human friends should not be a treat for your pet; any change of diet, even for one meal, may give your dog or cat severe digestive issues or discomfort. Avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol. Please visit the ASPCA's People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets page for more information.
Please leave pets at home when you head out to Fourth of July celebrations, and never use fireworks around pets! Exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns or trauma, and even unused fireworks can contain hazardous materials. Many pets are also fearful of loud noises and can become lost, scared or disoriented, so it’s best to keep your little guys safe from the noise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area of your home. For more info on firework safety, read our Firework Blog Post.