Summer can be a great time for dogs and their owners alike. All those (hopefully) sunny days to get out and about in the warm weather, with the long daylight hours meaning even early morning and late evening walks can be undertaken in pleasant conditions with lots of visibility.
The fun and exercise that comes with summer will be good for the fitness of owners and their dogs alike and, just like humans, there will be plenty of games to be played. While their two-legged friends can enjoy everything from cricket to Frisbees, now could be a great time to get a gorilla dog toy and give them something to have fun with.
However, summer does bring a few potential issues for humans and dogs alike.
Just as the hot sunshine can bring sunburn, sunstroke and even dehydration for people, dogs can suffer from this too.
Many people think dogs cannot get sunburned, in the same way nobody has to apply suncream to their heads unless they are bald or shaven-headed. But dogs with very blonde or thin coats can get burned, while exposed spots like their noses, ears and bellies are at risk. There are not many suncreams for dogs out there, so it’s best to limit their time in the sun.
Another reason for restricting their time out in the warmest part of the day is the risk of heatstroke and dehydration. A key step is to ensure your dog has lots to drink. Don’t just get them drinking before they set off, when they may not be too thirsty. If you are going out on a long walk, take a bottle of water for them too.
Remember that dogs do not sweat, but lose heat by panting. If they do show signs of heat stroke, get them in a shaded area and pour cold water on them to help them cool off. But with the right preparation, it should not come to this.
A third issue to consider is the risk of bugs. Humans and dogs alike should be aware of the dangers and while stings from wasps and bites from midges can be unpleasant, the big threat in Britain is from ticks, which can spread Lyme disease. It is important to know how to spot a tick and to use tweezers in the right way to remove them.
Lyme disease is a nasty, debilitating condition that needs tackling as soon as possible, but it is easy to spot in humans as a tick bite can leave a red ring around the wound that is a signal for treatment. Ticks can be harder to spot on dogs as they hide in the hair, so it is important to check them carefully, especially after walking through long grass.
Finally, one issue that won’t be a problem for you but may be for a dog is summer foods. You might enjoy those sizzling steaks and 99s with a flake, but you should avoid letting dogs get to things like corn on the cob, barbecue sauce, and ice cream (apart from the special type made for dogs) as these can all cause stomach upsets.
By taking the right steps, you can protect both your dog’s health this summer and also your own, enjoying the benefits of exercise but being cautious about the sun, bugs and food.