Image by Murilo Viviani, courtesy of Unsplash.
Clear blue skies and rising temperatures spell the beginning of summer and months of outdoor play. When you have a four-legged friend at home, summer is a great time to enjoy some games of frisbee and a splash in the pool as well. It’s important for seasoned and first-time pet parents to keep an eye out of the safety of their pooch year round, but summertime presents a few specific challenges.
Keeping your pet safe while enjoying summertime fun requires some preparation, but it’s essential to make sure that your furry friend doesn’t suffer from the heat or become injured. To get you off to a good start, here are six tips to follow for a safe and memorable summer with your pooch:
1. Prevent Drownings Accidents
Playing in the pool is just one of the things we love about summer, but it also comes with risks for children and animals whether or not they know how to swim.
Dogs get the zoomies from time to time, and love to run around the yard. It’s not uncommon for puppies to step too close to the ledge and fall into the pool while they play.
Another of these dangers relates to pool covers. A common way to keep the pool water warm and reduce evaporation is with a solar cover. They may do this well, but can present a safety hazard to dogs. They can look just like a solid walking surface to a dog. However, when a dog steps out onto it, the cover gives way and the dog can become trapped underneath.
Teach Your Dog Where to Find the Pool Steps
If your dog falls into the pool, they need to be able to swim to safety, but they may not be able to find the steps to a pool they’re not familiar with. You can help train them to swim to safety by having a partner lower them into the pool from various places and beckoning them to swim over to you from the stairs. Before long, they’ll know just where to go if they find themselves in the water.
Train Your Dog to Stay Off the Pool Cover
For the health of your pool cover and your pooch, it’s best to train your dog not to cross the boundary line around your pool. There’s nothing special to it; train them the same way you’d teach them to stay off of your couch.
If you work all day or aren’t able to supervise your pet all the time (this would be impractical for most people anyway), the best way to keep your dog safe is to install a strong mesh safety fence around the pool that can’t be jumped over or climbed.
2. Provide Plenty of Fresh Water
"It is critical to make sure your pet is always well hydrated. This is especially true in hotter weather. Make sure that water is easily accessible, and that it is clean and fresh," Dr. Amanda Nascimento, DVM, MVSc., PhD, said.
Dogs can become dehydrated very quickly in hot weather, and the salty or chlorinated water in the pool is not the best for dogs to drink. It is a good idea to place several bowls of fresh water around the property in all of your dog’s favorite places to play and rest. You can also add some ice cubes made from potable water so that your pooch’s water stays nice and cool. If you’re going to be playing with your dog in the pool, be sure to provide a nice big bowl of drinking water nearby. Your dog will thank you!
3. Pets Need Shade Too
Whether it’s on the grass or by the pool, dogs love stretching out and taking a nap in the sun. However, too much sun can actually be harmful for your dog—causing dehydration and sunburn. To keep your dog safe in the heat, make sure your dog has plenty of access to shaded areas for relaxation and play around the yard.
4. Adjust Your Pooch’s Diet to the Season
Just as it does with humans, the amount of food your pet needs will tend to be different in the summer to what it is in the winter. A dog that becomes more active and plays all day long when the sun’s shining may need more food in summer, whereas one that spends the summer days lazing around in the sun is likely to eat less.
To know whether your pooch is eating the right amount for its summertime needs, you can use the rib area as an indicator. A healthy dog’s ribs should be covered by a thin layer of tissue and shouldn’t be showing, but you should be able to feel them when you touch your dog’s torso with your hand. You can also keep an eye on the size of your dog’s belly—too much of a bulge could mean that it’s time to cut back on treats and take your dog out for a nice long evening walk!
5. Walk in the Early Morning and in the Evening
To prevent your dog from overheating, schedule walks in the early morning or in the evening when the sun is not at its full strength. Walking your four-legged friend on the grassy strip rather than on the warm concrete path can also make your dog more comfortable. Along with your doggy litter bags, take two water bottles with you to stay hydrated in the warm weather—one for you and one for your pooch!
6. Keep Your Pet Well Ventilated
Pets are particularly sensitive to humidity and heat, and this makes good ventilation essential in the summertime. When your dog is inside the house in summer, open a few windows to let a gentle breeze blow through. For sleeping, offer your dog lighter bedding than they would use in the winter to keep them nice and fresh.
When traveling in the car or going camping with your pet, secure your pet in a crate with excellent ventilation or buckle them in with an appropriate car harness. Never leave your dog in the car on a warm day—even for a few minutes—as temperatures can rise dangerously in a short period of time and cause organ damage or even death.
Prepare Ahead and Have Fun!
By gearing up ahead of time with the items mentioned—pool safety barriers, light beds, and ventilated carry crates—and keeping your pet cool and hydrated, you and your dog are sure to have a wonderful summer together. Have a great time and make sure to take lots of pics!