LOS ANGELES — Ready for your dog’s days of summer?
Everybody seems to have a list of tips.
Most are no-brainers. Don’t leave dogs in hot cars or let them
walk on hot asphalt, play too hard or get too much sun. Apply flea
and tick repellents, and if you’re in a mosquito-prone area, talk
to your vet about heartworm prevention pills. Take dogs on walks
early or late to avoid midday heat and provide ample drinking
But there are other risks that come with heat, vacations and
outdoor play. Here are some ways to keep dogs healthy and
comfortable this summer, with tips from veterinarian Louise Murray,
vice president of the American Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Animals’ Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York
GROOMING: A dog’s coat is like insulation,
warding off cold in the winter and heat in the summer. Trim, but
don’t give your dog a crew cut or such a close shave that it takes
away that protection.
Dogs get sunburn and skin cancer, so never cut fur shorter than
an inch. (In some breeds, even an inch is too short.)
Dogs shed more in summer, so brush to get rid of extra fur along
with fur that’s matted from water play.
HEAT RELIEF: Most pets find cool, shady spots
to lie down, but some, especially animals that are overweight or
can’t tolerate heat, might benefit from cooling beds, mats or
The mats get filled with water, which mixes with a high-tech gel
to create a cool, waterbed-like cushion. Consumer reviews are
generally positive but caution that some beds spring leaks (or are
chewed by dogs).
FOOD: No food will keep your dog cooler, but
food helps keep body temperature up, so dogs may not need to eat as
much in the summer.
If your dog stays at a dog-friendly hotel with you or at a
kennel, consider bringing food from home. A change in diet can
Barbecues and picnics are a veterinarian’s nightmare. Keep pets
in the house or on a leash to prevent them from being fed or
lapping up things that are bad for them, whether it’s spilled
alcohol or onion dip. Onions, garlic, grapes, raisins and chocolate
are the most toxic foods for dogs.
VACATIONS: Dogs can get carsick if they’re not
used to driving, so go for small trips before a road trip.
On boats, consider a doggie life vest. Protect the dog from
gasoline and other toxic products. At the beach, provide drinking
water so the dog does not drink salt water.
On planes, if your pet is small enough, keep it in the cabin
with you. Call ahead because some airlines limit animals per
flight. Be prepared to pay a fee and check on necessary
If your dog must fly as cargo, note that the U.S. Department of
Transportation says short-faced breeds like pugs and bulldogs die
during air transport at much higher rates than other breeds.
If you’re boarding your dog, remember that many kennels require
proof of vaccines such as rabies and kennel cough.
LAWNS: Some lawn products are toxic to dogs and
cats. Weed killers and herbicides are the worst — some cause
cancer. Some fertilizers are also toxic. All a dog or cat has to do
is walk on the lawn and lick its paws to be exposed.
In 2010, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center received more
than 4,000 calls related to garden toxins. These include
herbicides, plants (hydrangea, tulips, azaleas, lilies),
insecticides, mushrooms, fertilizers and cocoa mulch.
OVERHEATING: Recognize overheating if you see
it — excessive panting, difficulty breathing, increased heart and
respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, seizures, and elevated
body temperatures over 104 degrees.
“A lot of dogs will just keep running until they drop because
they have so much heart and so much energy,” said Murray. “You have
to be proactive.”
Animals with flat faces, like pugs and Persian cats, are more
susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as
Sponge the animal with lukewarm water and seek veterinary care
if you suspect overheating.
WINDOWS: Murray’s clinic sees two or three pets
a week that have fallen or jumped from apartment windows, roofs,
balconies or fire escapes. Multiple limb fractures or potentially
deadly internal or brain injuries often result. Use window screens,
open windows from the top instead of the bottom, consider
child-safety window guards.