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Dog Summer Safety Tips

Summer is right around the corner, and we all love spending time outside with our pups. Custom Canines has some suggestions on how to enjoy your fun in the sun while keeping your dogs safe!

Use Preventatives

Although preventatives should be administered to your dog year round, summer is often the peak time for bugs such as mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks. These nasty critters irritate your dog in a variety of ways, but most importantly they also carry a variety of diseases including heartworm and Lyme. Skin irritation from fleas can also lead to hot spots, allergic reactions, and secondary skin infections due to constant itching.

Provide Plenty of Clean Fresh Water

Summer is often hot, sticky, and humid. We also spend a lot more of our time outside during the summer months, and can often lose track of just how long we’ve been adventuring or enjoying the beautiful weather. Access to clean, fresh water is extremely important during the summer months to prevent dehydration and help your dog cool off.

Be Aware of Outdoor Hazards

As you spend more time outside, it is crucial that you are aware of the potential dangers in your yard or any other locations you may be exploring. Toxic plants, fertilizers, pesticides, poisons, sharp objects, bonfires, and any dangerous human food left in reach are just a few of the many hazards that may be present in your dog’s space. Every week or so do a sweep of your yard, and make sure to supervise your dog when outside for extended periods of time.

Never Leave Your Dog in the Car

We’ve all heard horror stories of dogs left in cars during the summer, and they often include owners saying “it wasn’t that hot” or “I was only gone for 5 minutes”. Unfortunately, it only takes a few minutes in a car for things to go terribly wrong for your furry friend. Even when it seems to be a reasonable temperature outside, your car heats up extremely quickly. If you are not able to take your dog with you once you get to your destination, please leave them at home. It is not worth risking your dog’s life.

Know the Signs of Heat Stroke

Dog’s don’t sweat like humans, so panting and drinking water are the only ways for your pup to attempt to bring their body temperature down. Heat stroke is one of the biggest summer risks for dogs, whose normal body temperature is between 101 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Heavy panting, excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, dry or bright red gums, and trouble walking can all be signs that your dog is in serious distress and might be suffering from heat stroke. Quickly get your dog out of the heat, make your way to the vet immediately, and cover them with damp towels focusing on their groin area to help bring down their body temperature.

Avoid Exposure to Hot Sand and Pavement

Surfaces left outside in the sun can get hot very quickly. Hot sand and pavement are a danger to your pup’s paws, which can quickly burn causing a great deal of pain. Even when the air is not incredibly warm, ground surfaces can be a hazard. Try to arrange your schedule so walks are kept to mornings and evenings when the sun isn’t high, and always test the temperature of the ground with the backside of your hand before taking your dog outside.

Dogs Can Get Sunburnt too!

The sun is a danger to your skin, but dogs can also be hit with a nasty case of sunburn! White dogs often have more visible skin susceptible to burns, but darker dogs attract the sun similar to how dark pavement heats up faster. Areas that are most at risk for sunburn include the skin around they eyes, lips, inside of legs, and ears. Always provide your dog with access to shade, and consider purchasing doggy sunscreen to protect your pup from the sun’s harmful rays.

Consider Purchasing a Life Jacket

Many dogs love to swim; it’s often one of the things they most look forward to each summer. There’s no better way to spend a summer afternoon then chucking a ball into the water for your dog to retrieve. But, many pet owners don’t realize how dangerous lakes and oceans can be for even the best swimmers. One common issue with dogs like Labradors and Goldens is they love to swim so much that they don’t know when to stop, and can often swim to the point of exhaustion(which would be deadly if they’re in deep water at that point). Life jackets give you added security, visibility to boats, and peace of mind when enjoying the water with your four-legged friend.

Plan Accordingly for Travel

When headed out of town with your pup, be it camping, a road trip, or to your cabin make sure you set aside enough time to properly plan for your dog to accompany you. Be ready to stop for potty breaks, and keep a bowl and at least one bottle of water available in your vehicle. Whenever traveling with a dog, it is wise to also pack a basic first aid kit and have a list of important phone numbers on hand just in case. Better safe than sorry!

Know Your Local Emergency Vet

Accidents happen, and there’s nothing more important than being prepared when those accidents do happen. Especially during the summer months when you might take trips out of town or out of state with your dog, it’s crucial to know where your closest emergency vet is and have their contact information on hand. If you are traveling without your dog, make sure your dog sitter knows what vet to take your dog to, has your vet and emergency vet’s contact info, and that they have a signed consent form from you stating they have authority to administer treatment.

Summer is a fun, exciting, and often relaxing time for both people and pets. Take advantage of the extra time you have to spend with your family, but be sure to practice common sense when including your dog in activities. Most importantly, soak up every minute of sunshine and dog kisses you have, and take loads of pictures to capture your family's memories.


This post was written by Payton, who has raised three dogs for Custom Canines. Her passion for dogs, giving back, and photography has only grown during her time puppy raising, training, and managing the social media accounts for CCSDA. Payton has been quoted saying, "service dogs have stolen my heart, humbled me, lit a fire under me to keep learning more, and taught me how to live". She is pictured above with her first two trainees, Laser and Irish.

Pictured above, in order:

Padre & Irish: Padre is currently working through placement training while Irish is a member of our in-house breeding program.

Shelly: this beautiful girl is currently being raised by the Peterson family.

Laser: a summer 2019 graduate of CCSDA, Laser is currently working as a civilian PTSD service dog with a young woman in Wisconsin.

Irish: totally obsessed with swimming, summer is easily Irish's favorite time of year.

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