Summer Lessons for Pet Lovers
Posted on June 04, 2010 by WayCoolDogs
Guest Post by Mike Tennant:
Do you remember the first time you ever took care of a dog? Maybe you had one (or more!) growing up, or perhaps it was after you finally got your own place. Personally, I’ll never forget – it was downright frightening!
Due to some allergy issues in my family, we never had a dog growing up, or any pet for that matter. It didn’t matter how much my brother and I wanted one, we just couldn’t get a dog. That desire never left me, however, and years later my fiancé and I looked into adopting a dog from a shelter. She’d grown up with a dog her whole childhood, so she obviously wasn’t as green as I. Still, it had been a few years for her too. Sure we’d read a few Web sites and had received some tips from friends, but there’s no substitute for real experience. Luckily, some friends gave us the opportunity to dog sit and we saw it as a great trial run for the two of us.
I’ve never been more nervous than I was on that first walk, especially after realizing that my new buddy Porter liked to growl and bark at every other dog he saw on the street. He liked to assert his dominance, apparently. To make matters worse, it was the middle of a hot Southern California summer where the temperature was regularly in the mid-90’s. This was completely new to me! Not only had I never taken care of a dog before, but I hadn’t even given a thought to the idea that there were specific tricks and tips for taking care of your pet during the hot summer months.
It was a long month, but by the end of it, and we were certainly sad to give Porter back to his owners. After taking the time to read up on proper pet care and soliciting even more advice and tips from my dog-loving friends, I was finally starting to feel comfortable and truly enjoy spending time with the big guy. Among the many memorable moments from that month are the tips I learned about keeping your pet safe over the summer.
Below are some of the most important tips I learned back then about proper summer pet care, all of which I still follow today.
Keep them hydrated. Just as water is important for you and me in the hot summer sun, it’s also vital for your pets. Make sure they have access to fresh water – both inside and out. Keeping them hydrated will not only help to cool them down, it can also help to prevent heat-related problems, including heat exhaustion and even the more serious heat stroke.
Take frequent, shorter walks. Rather than one long walk every day, take your pet on several shorter walks on hot days. This allows them to still get the proper exercise they need while also making sure they don’t overheat in the sun. Overexertion is one of the biggest causes f heat-related illnesses in pets. Shorter, more frequent walks will help prevent this, and can also help to keep you fresh as well. If possible, try to time your walks for early morning or evening hours when the sun is less intense.
Protect them from the sun. Personally, I know I can’t spend more than five minutes outside without a thick layer of sunscreen to protect my pale Irish skin. It was surprising to learn that many pets need a similar treatment. If you pet has short hair, white fur or pink skin, they may need additional protection when out in the sun over the summer months. Try to limit their exposure to direct sunlight during the day to deter sun damage. While shaving your pet may seem like a good idea to keep them cool, it can also make them more vulnerable to sun damage. Talk to your vet about the best type of sunscreen or any other sun protection for your pet.
Be careful near gardens and garages. It’s typically a good idea to limit your pet’s access to gardens and garages over the summer months due to the various toxic substances found there. Fertilizer and other garden chemicals can be hazardous to your pet’s health – even deadly. The same goes for anti-freeze, which can leak from cars during summer months. Pets – especially dogs – are drawn to it, but it’s pure poison for them.
Practice pool safety. Summer is a time for pools, and while that’s great for us, it can be dangerous for most pets. Many pets can’t swim, and those that can are often unable to exit a pool that has high sides. Keep an eye on your pet when near a pool or other large body of water. If you have your own pool, it’s probably a good idea to train your pet to escape using the stairs in event of a fall. Make sure they don’t drink the heavily chemical-infused water either.
Mike Tennant is a freelance writer and columnist from Orange County, CA. Mike currently works with Air Conditioner Home and strives to help consumers find the best portable air conditioners to fit their needs – and sometimes their dogs’ needs too!
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