7 Crucial Safety Tips For Walking Your Dog This Summer

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Summer is here and most areas of the county are experiencing heat waves. The hot weather can be fun, but it's also dangerous. While exercise and enrichment are important for dogs year-round, it's important to be cautious when taking your dog out during the hot weather. Here are some dangers to keep in mind while you are out walking with your dog this summer.

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Hot pavement temperatures and paw pads

One of the main concerns with walking dogs in the summer is the pavement temperatures. Concrete sidewalks and streets heat up in the sun and can easily burn your dog's paw pads. The general approach for determining if the concrete is too hot is to put your bare hand or foot onto it for 10 seconds. If you can do so comfortably, then it may be cool enough for your dog to walk comfortably.

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To protect your dog from both the heat and hot concrete, it's best to avoid walking during the hottest time of the day. Instead, try to arrange your schedule to get your dog out on walks during the early morning or late at night — when the concrete will be cooler. If you live in an apartment and must walk your dog on hot concrete to get them out to potty, consider investing in protective boots. Use positive reinforcement methods to teach your dog to be comfortable wearing them.

Signs of heat stroke in dogs

One significant risk in the hot weather for dogs is the risk of heat stroke. All dogs can overheat including active and fit dogs. The best way to prevent heat heatstroke is to keep your dog in a cool part of your house during the hottest part of the day. When you are outside with your dog, provide them with access to cool places in the shade. It's also best to avoid encouraging strenuous play or exercise for your dog in the heat. Avoid those long walks and games of fetch during the hottest parts of the day.

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Symptoms of heatstroke to watch out for include: panting, heavy breathing, pale gums, vomiting, and gastrointestinal issues. If you think your dog is experiencing heat stroke, they should immediately be seen by a veterinarian.

Ways to keep your dog cool in the hot weather

In addition to sticking to shady areas and walking in the early morning or late at night, providing your dog with cooling accessories can also be helpful. Cooling coats and cooling bandannas can help keep your dog comfortable and prevent overheating while out on a walk. Cooling vests are designed to be soaked in cool water. Hold the cooling vest against your dog's body to help deflect the sun and keep them feeling cooler.

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Avoid discarded food on sidewalks

Summer BBQ gatherings are fun, but they can lead to dangers when walking your dog. Chicken bones, partially eaten bags of chips and other BBQ leftovers are especially common on sidewalks this time of year. This discarded food could make your dog sick if they eat them. When walking your dog, keep an eye out for tempting distractions and steer your dog away from them. This is a great time to practice cues like "leave it" and "drop" if your dog does manage to get something in their mouth that they shouldn't.

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Stay hydrated while on walks

Keeping you and your dog well hydrated is important when out on summer walks. Carry a water bottle for yourself and fresh cool water to share with your dog. You'll also want to bring a portable or collapsible water bowl to make it easier for your dog to drink. Avoid letting your dog drink out of communal neighborhood water bowls as they can spread disease.

Avoid tall grass and inspect for foxtails

Foxtails are a weed that looks harmless but is very dangerous to dogs. Common in the western United States, these wheat-looking seeds have barbed heads. Foxtails can easily become embedded in your dog's feet, nose, ears, and eyes and lead to serious infections. Foxtails don't naturally break down and instead work their way into a dog's body. This can lead to serious infections or even death if untreated. Keep your dog out of weeds and tall grass and inspect your dog's body after each walk.

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Insect and snake safety tips

Insect stings or snake bites (depending on where you live) can be another hazard to watch for on summer dog walks. Keep your dog away from snakes and other wildlife. It's helpful to have easy access to a first aid kit for dogs and to know how to use it. If you suspect your dog has been stung by an insect, and they are having any kind of reaction such as obvious discomfort, swelling, or difficulty breathing — then your dog should immediately be seen by a veterinarian.

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In summary

Taking your dog out for summer walks can be a lot of fun, but there can also be unexpected dangers. Be thoughtful about what time of day you take your dog out to walk. Avoid the hottest part of the day and check the temperature of the pavement before walking. Try to keep your dog cool while walking and carry fresh water. Steer your dog away from any tempting food left on sidewalks. Avoid tall grass and assorted wildlife hazards.

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