9 summer safety tips for new dog owners

It's important for dog owners to educate themselves on the potential threats that come along with warmer weather.

by Good Dog

Summer is a time for barbecuing, long road trips, and family get-togethers. Whether you’re a new puppy owner or you’ve had dogs before, you need to make sure that your dogs are staying safe at all times when they accompany you on your adventures.

Here are a few things you can do to make sure your dogs are happy and healthy in the summer months:

1. Closely watch your dog if you’re near any kind of body of water.

Going to the lake? Letting your dog run around near a pool? Visiting the beach? These are all locations that could be dangerous for a puppy who doesn’t know how to swim. Either keep your dog away from water, install gates/fencing around your pool, or make sure they have on proper flotation devices to keep them afloat. Puppies are clumsy and don’t yet know what to stay away from or be careful around, so it’s up to you to keep them safe when it comes to big bodies of water. The ASPCA also recommends rinsing the chlorine and/or salt from the water off your dog to keep them free from unnecessary chemicals.

2. Make sure your dog stays hydrated with lots of water.

It's absolutely crucial to make sure your puppy has access to fresh, cool water at all times. This can help them stop from overheating, and it’s especially important on hot and/or humid days.

3. Additionally, make sure they always have access to shady areas when outside.

Whenever your puppy accompanies you outdoors, be sure to give them options of covered or shady areas for them to keep cool. They shouldn’t linger or lay down on the hot pavement for extended periods of time, and giving them a cooler space to chill out will help them enjoy their time with you safely.

4. Never (ever) leave your dog alone in a parked car.

It could be illegal in some states, but not only that, it’s a dangerous thing to do to your dog for any amount of time (even if the air conditioning is on). It’s just not safe and could prove to be fatal. According to the Humane Society of the United States, “on an 85-degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes.” It cannot be overstated how dangerous it is to leave your dog alone in a car.

5. Adjust your dog-walking times to the cooler times of the day.

The hottest time of the day is typically around 12-3 pm, and the hours leading up to that are all building up heat. If your dog is used to getting walked in that specific time frame, it’s safer to adjust their longer walks to cooler times of the day whenever possible. This means much earlier in the morning or later at night. The American Veterinary Medical Association also suggests keeping your dog off of asphalt because the surface could potentially burn your dog's sensitive paws if it's too hot.

“If you think it's hot outside, it's even hotter for your pet,” said the AVMA.

6. Take precaution if you’re planning on visiting areas prone to ticks, fleas or mosquitos.

If you plan on traveling to areas of the world known for high populations of ticks and fleas, talk to your vet before you go. They may suggest that your puppy should start taking preventative medicine. Don’t forget to prevent against heartworm as well — heartworm can be transmitted to a dog through infected mosquitos.

7. Closely monitor your dog around any open windows, especially if they’re unscreened.

Cats may have a reputation of being curious, but dogs are known to chase after things and go investigating. Not every household, car, or window has a screen. Even if a window does have a screen, they easily pop out with the right amount of force applied. So, if any window is open, screened or unscreened, keep an eye on your curious dog.

8. Be careful what you feed your dog, or what food/drink they’re around during summer.

For humans, cooking and eating outside is one of the enjoyable parts of summer, adding dogs into that mix can make it more fun for all, but make sure to keep an eye on younger dogs (and people!). Dogs should still be obedient despite all the commotion, adequately prepared for the weather, and kept to a dog-friendly diet.

The ASPCA specifically highlights “raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol” as foods that are commonly around during hot weather that are very dangerous for dogs to ingest.

9. Understand the signs of overheating.

As a dog owner, it's essential to know the signs of overheating so you can practice prevention. The most common signs include heavy panting, rapid heartbeat, increase in body temperature, excessive drooling or thirst, red gums, lack of coordination, vomiting, or lethargy. It’s vital to remember that humidity, in addition to temperature itself, can result in your dog being unable to cool themselves down, which will quickly lead to overheating.

Heatstroke can be extremely dangerous and sometimes fatal, especially in breeds that are prone to breathing issues like Pugs, Bulldogs, Boxers, Shar-Pei, and Shih Tzu. Since dogs don’t have the ability to sweat to cool off, their primary source of temperature regulation is panting — if their ability to pant is already impaired, the heat can become incredibly problematic and in some cases, life-threatening.

Mostly, keep an eye on your puppy when outdoors and give them lots of opportunities to drink water and stay in the shade. Don’t make them exercise too much when it’s hot and humid outside (while also watching for any signs of overheating or heat stroke); if they are running around, make sure it’s within a safe environment. When they're in the house, make sure your dog has access to a cool and comfortable place. Since dogs cool down in a much different way than humans do, a fan might not be ideal. During heat waves, make sure to have water, ice, or even popsicles on hand.

Despite the dangers warm weather poses to dogs, the summer months are an excellent opportunity to bond with your canine companion; just remember to remain cautious and vigilant about your dog's safety and well-being.