Monday, June 23, 2008

Summer Savvy Tips- Part 1

With summer having officially arrived, it’s time to start thinking about hot weather and outdoor safety. I am going to mention several areas that you should pay particular attention to during the hotter months. For the purposes of this blog I am using product examples from Outward Hound by the Kyjen Company simply because I own several of their products, and have been extremely happy with them. There are many great manufacturers of pet products to choose from.

General Outdoor Safety: If you dog is outside on a regular basis or lives outside, you must provide him with shade and plenty of clean water at all times. A doghouse does not provide sufficient shade. While a doghouse may provide protection from the sun, it can quickly heat up inside. Remember that dogs, just like people can get sunburned and can even get skin cancer.

If your dog likes the water, you may want to provide him with a baby pool filled with cool water. Some dogs like to lie in the water to cool them selves off. Weylin likes to play in the pool, but will not lay in it. Maggie wants nothing to do with the pool, no matter how warm it is out.

You need to monitor your dog during the hot days of summer for heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Both can result in brain damage, heart failure or even death in a short period of time. Over-working your dog during hot weather can cause heat exhaustion. During the summer you should walk your dog in the early morning or in the evening, and you should always carry water with you. If your dog becomes overheated, offer him plenty of water and wet his body and paws with cool water. Take your dog to the veterinarian immediately if he is experiencing heatstroke or heat exhaustion.

If you are traveling with your dog, hiking, boating, or just walking around the neighborhood, you need to make sure that you keep him hydrated. In the last few years, manufacturers have come out with some great options that make it easy to provide water on the go. Two of my favorites are the Port-A-Bowl and the Fold-A-Bowl made by Outward Hound (Kyjen Company). The Port-A-Bowl folds flat and the Fold-A-Bowl folds into it’s own pocket and has a clip that you can attached to a belt loop or clothing. When you are on the go, they are a simple, yet effective way to give your dog a bowl of water. They are lightweight and take up very little space. Wulfgar (my wolf hybrid) would drink out of a water bottle that had a squirt top on it or out of a water fountain. My big boy was very self sufficient, and he was tall enough to drink directly out of a lot of sinks. I have tried in vain to get Weylin to drink out of a water bottle or even a fountain. Apparently he’s just too spoiled; he prefers his water out of a bowl. Of course Maggie, like many dogs is not big enough to drink out of a water fountain, so the portable bowls are a great option. There are many other manufacturers that make different portable items for both water and food. Below I have given web addresses for three pet supply catalogs that I order from on a regular basis. All three have great websites and you can also request a paper catalog. One plus with KV Vet is that with orders of $50.00, they ship many items for free.

Water Safety: If your dog is going to be in or around the water, you should really consider purchasing a life jacket for him or her. I think that a lot of people automatically assume that all dogs can swim, which is not true. Not all dogs like to swim either, but even if your dog is a good swimmer you should still consider buying a life jacket. Many people like to take their dogs boating, but in the even of an accident a life jacket protects your dog. If the dog is injured or can’t make it to shore, a life jacket will help him to stay afloat until rescue arrives. Even if you are just playing along the river, or running along the beach, you never know when your dog might head into the water. Your dog may end getting in over his head so to speak, and if he ends up farther out in the river or ocean that you intended, a life jacket may literally be a lifesaver. Most of the larger pet catalogs offer several different styles of life jackets. I have included pictures of two different life jackets from Outward Hound (Kyjen Company). Please note that you should never leave your dog unattended in or around water. Dogs and puppies can fall into a swimming pool just like children and drown.

Auto Safety: Dogs are unable to sweat the way that humans do to keep themselves cool. If it has been said once, it has been said a million times, don’t leave your dog alone in a parked car. The temperature inside can rise to over 100 degrees in a matter of minutes. Parking in the shade or cracking the windows does little to alleviate the high temperatures. Both dogs and children have died from being left inside hot vehicles. Also your dog is in danger of being stolen if left unattended in a parked car.

Dogs should be properly secured in a vehicle at all times. Not only is it extremely dangerous for your dog to ride unsecured in the back of a pickup truck it is also illegal in some states. You can purchase a specially padded harness and tethers that secure your dog in the bed of a truck. However, you need to be aware that the sun can heat up the metal in the truck bed and burn your dog’s paws. Some states also have laws that say your dog must be secured inside a vehicle as well. A dog that is loose inside a vehicle risks being injured in a crash or even in the event of a sudden stop. A loose dog is also a danger to the driver of the vehicle. You can buy padded harnesses that are specifically made for auto travel that are secured by a seatbelt. For smaller dogs you can also buy car seats, but even when using one of these your dog needs to be secured by a harness. You should not let your dog hang his head out of the window because bugs, rocks, or other road debris can hit him. There is also the danger of the dog falling or jumping out of the window.

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