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  • David Truchalski

How To prepare your dog for summer

Summer is coming and people are heading to the beach for vacation to have fun in the ocean. Some are busy buying summer clothes and accessories for them and their dogs. Online high fashion dog shops are packed with collections of dog swimsuits, beachwear and other stuff to refresh the people and their furry friends. However, all the fun that you typically associate summer with, this weather can have harmful effects on humans as well as to our pets.

Humans go to great lengths to protect themselves from the summer weather; however, when it comes to our dogs most owners forget the care our friends need. For almost all dog breeds, this could not be further from the truth. Our pets are just as vulnerable to rain, snow, hot and cold temperatures as we are. The major concern when it comes to our dogs and cats is the extreme temperatures summer brings. Extreme hot or cold weather without adequate shelter could take your pet in harms way. Come summer, the major concern you have to be aware of is overheating. Other related issues with the hot summer months are skin problems, parasites, dehydration etc. Understanding these hazards will get you and your furry friend prepared, so read along.


Preventing Skin Problems

Just as the seasons change the moisture levels of human skin, seasonal changes can play an important role in the moisture levels of your dog's skin. Dry skin allows irritants to penetrate below the surface of the skin and can cause redness and inflammation. Supplementing your dog's diet with omega 3 and 6 oils can help make sure your dog’s skin is ready for summer.

TIP: A bath with oatmeal shampoo can soothe your dog's skin

The most common sign that your dog has skin problems is persistent itching and scratches. Your dog may also have excessive licking, shaking his head or rubbing his face or back against the floor or carpet. If not treated effectively, your dog may get rashes, extremely dry skin and loss of hair. Spring and summer also bring out allergies, such as hay fever, which can also affect the quality of your dog's skin. A dog releases histamines in response to pollen through its skin. A dog suffering from seasonal allergies can be a very unhappy creature if he is not treated. The symptoms can be relieved by giving your dog a bath in an oatmeal shampoo or ordinary shampoo designed to soothe the skin. Frequent cleaning also helps to remove pollen and other impurities and irritants from the dog's fur which brings us to our next point, Grooming.

Grooming

It is important to brush and comb regularly to maintain your dog’s hair during the summer months. If your dog is badly matted or tangled, the hair can trap heat and moisture near the skin, increasing their discomfort. You can improve your dog’s comfort by removing only the undercoat, which will eliminate the natural barriers that can trap heat. Bringing your dog into a beauty salon for a professional undercoat removal is a great way to help them feel comfortable.


Preventing Parasites

Parasites, such as fleas and ticks, are the most common cause of skin irritation in your dog. Fleas and ticks are easy to see during summer, and there are many effective treatments to help your dog get rid of parasites and relieve his symptoms. Mites are more difficult to detect because they are microscopic. Your dog will need to be examined by your vet to diagnose mites. Mites are the cause of scabies, an irritation of the skin that causes hair loss. Scabies requires intensive treatment with a special anti-parasite shampoo and topical, oral or injection medications. If left untreated, scabies can be a life-threatening disease. Make sure you check frequently your dog for fleas and/or ticks. Not only can these parasites cause a lot of irritation and discomfort for your dog but some of these can turn out to be fatal depending on the age and health state of your pet.



Traveling With Your Dog

Virtually every dog owner likes to take their dogs with them everywhere they go, but there are times when the destination doesn’t really work out for your pet. In this case, what do you do? Leave your pet in the car? Some argue that it may be ok on cool days, but summer months and even now the weather is very hot.


REMINDER: Temperatures inside a closed car can reach over 100 degrees in minutes...

Temperatures inside a closed car can reach over 100 degrees (even on spring and fall days when it's not so hot outside) and a closed car can warm up in minutes. Also, remember that your dog wears a fur coat 24/7 and they can only cool off by panting, so never muzzle your dog on hot days. If possible, when it is very hot, leave your dog at home (indoors or in the shade, always with water). If you have to make a quick stop, let someone in the car with the dog so that the windows are down and you keep your pet comfortable.


Exercising With Your Dog

If your dog likes to accompany you on a hike, a jog or just a walk, make sure that when summer comes that you go early in the morning or later in the evening when it has cooled down. Your pet may try to keep pace with you, regardless of the temperature, which puts them at risk for heat stroke. The normal temperature of a dog's body ranges between 100 and 102 degrees Fahrenheit. A temperature between 104 -106 is considered moderate heatstroke, with a good chance of recovery if first aid is administered fast; however, if the dog's temperature reaches 106 degrees or more, they need immediate veterinary care.

TIP: If you are going to exercise with your dog, do it early mornings or late evenings

If you notice that your dog is panting excessively, that he has a bright red tongue, red or pale gums, and thick or sticky saliva, he is likely to be suffering from heatstroke. You should take them out of the heat and put them in a cold place immediately and moisten them with cold water. Have them drink water and check their temperature to be sure it’s back to normal, otherwise you have to consider bringing them to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Also, it is very important that you do not let your dog drink from puddles on the street while out and about… some of these puddles have been found to contain antifreeze or have been tested positive for active bacteria and parasites that can get your dog sick. It’s usually best to keep an eye out and deviate around any puddles altogether just to be on safe side.


Wash Your Dog

During the summer, you will probably have to wash your dog more often. Try to do it as naturally as possible. Here is where you can add orange oil (a natural cleaner made from rinds of orange used in killing bugs and other pests) to the shampoo solution. It will kill the fleas and let your dog smell very good! After drying your dog with a towel, sprinkle him or her with an orange oil solution and rub it on the coat as close as possible to the skin. Pure orange oil is actually too strong to act directly on your dog’s skin so you must mix it with water similar to what you’d do with an essential oil. Fortunately, some products already contain the oils needed which should facilitate the process of natural control of fleas and odors for you and your pet. Remember to consult your vet for the best way to keep your doggy clean and smelling fresh all the time.


As much as we love summer time, if we want to spend time outdoors with our furry friends we must make sure we take proper precautions. We bet you are a responsible pet owner, and as such you understand that knowing how to take care of your pet during summer months is essential to both a happy owner and a happy dog. The better prepared you are the more fun you’ll have with your pet once those hot summer days come.


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