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10 Summer Safety Tips for Service Dogs and Working Dogs

By Devon MacPherson

Summer is in upon us! As you make your seasonal plans, don’t forget to keep essential safety tips in mind for your four-legged friend.

Here are 10 summer safety tips for your pooch.

1. Don’t leave you dog in a warm car under any circumstances.

It shouldn’t even have to be said, but it is important that your dog is not left in a warm car at anytime. Even when you think it’s cool enough, temperatures can rise inside your car quickly. According to the AVMA in just ten minutes your car’s temperature can rise approximately 20 degrees. In an hour, that temperature can become over 40 degrees warmer than the outside. This means that in just minutes your dog could experience heat stroke or even die. Also, be aware that a well-intentioned passer-by may see your dog and want to play hero by breaking the glass — a practice which could harm both the animal and the good samaritan.

2. Watch your dog’s paws.

Pavement, asphalt, metal and other surfaces can cause your dogs paws to burn. Make sure you test the surface with the 5 second rule. Before you walk on the surface, place the back of your hand on the pavement. If you are unable to hold it there for 5 seconds, it is too hot for your dog. Other ways that you can prevent your dog’s paws from burning include: walking on grass when possible, walking when it is cooler outside (such as the morning or at night) or equipping your dog with boots.

If your dog has received a burn, or is uncomfortable, they may exhibit the following symptoms: limping or refusing to walk, blisters or redness, licking or chewing at the feet, paw pads are darker in color or a piece of the pad is missing. Soothe the burn by placing a cold compress or ice pack on the paw(s) affected, keeping the paws clean and then taking your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible. This is important because your dogs paws are a difficult part of the body to heal and may require special treatment or bandaging.

3. Never leave your dog unsupervised near a pool or lake.

Even dogs who swim well may get into a situation where they are unable to get out of the water. Never leave your pet unattended near open water.

4. Watch out for dangerous plants.

Azaleas, lilies, chamomile, chrysanthemums, daisies and many other popular plants can be extremely toxic and poisonous to dogs. Symptoms can range from diarrhea, to heart failure, and even death. Check out this list from the ASPCA to see the complete list of toxic plants for dogs.

dog laying down after eating dangerous plants that should be avoided

5. Avoid glow Sticks.

Glow sticks can be fun for people participating in celebratory events or evening BBQs. Even though glow sticks, glow bracelets, glow necklaces and other similar favors that light up the night say they are non-toxic, if they are broken the chemical inside may prove harmful to your dogs teeth and gums. For safety, keep these out of reach.

6. Be cautious near campfires and barbecues.

Be sure to watch your dog near campfires and barbecues. Your canine friend may attempt to pick up a hot stick from a fire, lick the barbecue or might come in contact with poisonous lighter fluid. As you can imagine, all of these are extremely dangerous and should be avoided.

7. Prevent dehydration.

Just like humans, it does not take long for your dog to become dehydrated on a hot summer day. Lethargy, loss of interest in water, sunken eyes and dry mouth are some of the symptoms that signal dehydration. To avoid this, ensure that your dog has unrestricted access to water wherever they are located. Take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible if you suspect dehydration.

8. Prevent sunburns.

Believe it or not, your dog can get a sunburn too! Much like when people get a sunburn, it can cause pain, itching, peeling and other symptoms. To avoid this, apply a waterproof sunscreen that is safe for babies or pets.

9. Shield from fireworks.

Some summer weekends call for fireworks. However, the loud noises and flashes of light can scare your dog. Try to keep your dog as far away from the fireworks as possible. And, in addition to being frightening for animals, it’s important to remember that for some veterans, fireworks can be a trigger for PTSD. Often, neighbors don’t even think about it being an issue. You may consider proactive speaking with neighbors about your intentions to use fireworks so proper accommodations can be made.

10. Control seasonal allergies.

Dogs can sometimes be plagued with the effects of allergies. This can cause your dog to sneeze frequently or become excessively itchy among other things. If you suspect your dog has allergies, visit your veterinarian to obtain a canine-friendly antihistamine or allergy medicine. Do not give your dog any medication without veterinarian approval.

Enjoy the summer with your dog!

This information was originally published by and is reprinted with permission.

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