Many of us consider our dogs our family, some even putting them above friends and blood-relations. Although it’s unsurprising as there is no love that can be compared to that of a dog’s love for their owner. Dogs big and small bring untold levels of joy to our daily lives, whether it’s that smile greeting us in the morning or cosying down in the evening together. That’s why we should be on alert during the spring/summer months when the bugs multiple and the sun reaches high levels of intensity.
Signs of Heat Stroke
Sunstroke or heat stroke is a killer in both humans and dogs, striking when we’ve been exposed to high temperatures without sufficient means of cooling down. While we can often cool ourselves down with a cold shower, a jump in a nice refreshing pool or drinking iced drinks, our doggy friends lack the thumbs necessary to follow suit. The only way dogs can cool themselves down is to pant and sometimes this isn’t enough, and they can quickly suffer in the warmth.
Should your dog start panting excessively or start to show signs of discomfort, they could be suffering from sunstroke so make sure to act quickly. Never use ice to cool your dog down, in extreme temperatures this can cause your pup to go into shock as the body tries to combat the freezing cold effects. Instead place your dog in a cool shower, paying attention to dampen the back of their neck and head, although be careful not to drench them over the face, causing panic.
Massaging your dog’s legs can help encourage circulation to reduce the risk of shock and keep supplying your dog cool water, letting them drink as much as they like. If you suspect your dog has or is showing signs of sunstroke, make sure to get them checked out by your vet.
Protecting Against Heat Stroke
To reduce the risks of heat stroke in dogs, keep them out of the sun during the day, letting them out in the garden in the cooler evenings. In especially hot and humid conditions, don’t take your dog for a walk, the pavements and walkways reach scorching temperatures which can quickly burn your pup’s paw pads. If you need to take your dog in the car, take regular rest breaks for air and make sure your dog stays well ventilated with access to cool water. Small ice cubes, ice shavings and frozen treats can be given to your dog in the heat, as long as they are not showing signs of heat stroke.
Summer Bug Mayhem
Summer tends to bring about an influx of pesky insects, which can be irritating to us but dangerous to our dogs. Wherever there is tall grass, you have a risk of ticks which can carry nasty diseases like Lyme’s disease. If your dog has access to the outside make sure to check them regularly for ticks and keep an eye out for signs your dog could be unwell, such as lethargy or irritability. Ticks can be easily removed with a tick-removal tool or if you are worried about leaving part of the insect behind, see your vet to get them removed sooner rather than later.
Stinging insects can be a nightmare for dogs, mostly as they trigger the chase trait and you might find your dog chasing bees and wasps around the garden trying to snap at them. While a sting on the back or leg isn’t likely to cause excessive harm (although maybe teach a wise lesson!) a sting to the face or neck can quickly lead to breathing difficulties. Encourage your dog to ignore flying stinging insects and keep an eye on them when out and about or in the garden.
Avoiding the Insects
There is no all-round protection you can implement to protect your pet from all insects, although there are some ways to reduce the amount you may find in your garden. Replacing your garden sod with artificial grass can reduce the numbers of biting ground insects you get and will discourage flying pollinating (and stinging!) insects. It’s also easy to maintain, so perfect for use with pets, preventing muddy paws, messy holes and can be quickly rinsed down with the garden hose. Go here for some excellent examples of using artificial grass, from city terraces to suburban lawns.
Citronella candles work well for keeping away mosquitos, although don’t be fooled by citronella scented candles, it’s the oil that keeps the pests away so make sure to check the label. Ensure you keep candles up and away from pets and children, especially when lit, citronella smells nice but likely won’t sit well in a dog’s stomach.
With these points in mind, we hope you remain mindful during the hot summer months and provide your pet with plenty of cool water, refreshing regularly throughout the day. Bites and stings can’t always be avoided but by being aware you can keep an eye out for signs your dog is suffering discomfort and where necessary take them to see your local vet. More than anything, we hope you and your dog enjoy a summer of fun and frolics!