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12 Common Summer Health Issues & Concerns in Dogs
Dogs make wonderful pets, and they provide us with many years of companionship. However, keeping them safe is not always easy, and as the temperatures rise in summer, your pet faces many dangers that can be difficult to avoid. Some are obvious, while others may be a surprise. We’ve searched the internet and talked it over with a few local veterinarians to create a list of things you should watch for during the summer to ensure your dog is comfortable and healthy, especially on the hottest days.
Common Summer Health Issues
One of the most obvious concerns as the temperature rises is that your dog can become dehydrated. Your dog May drink on a schedule, which is fine for most of the year, but as temperatures get up into the 80s and 90s, your dog can lose water quickly, putting it in danger. We recommend purchasing at least one extra water fountain that your dog can drink from to stay hydrated. A dog fountain can be a great way to convince your dog to drink more water. Apples, cantaloupe, and watermelon can be a healthy treat that helps hydrate your pet if given in small amounts, and you can also use wet dog food for the added moisture. Signs of dehydration include panting, loss of appetite, dry nose, and thick saliva.
Dogs have difficulty dissipating heat because they don’t have sweat glands like we do and must cool down by panting and sweating through the pads on their feet. If the dog cannot stay cool and reaches a temperature of 105-degrees, it can suffer from heatstroke, a potentially life-threatening condition. Symptoms include heavy panting while breathing Rapidly. The dog may also drool excessively, and the skin can be hot to the touch. If you notice these symptoms, it is important to quickly get the dog into a cool and well-ventilated area. Spraying the water with cool but not cold water can also help. We recommend placing the dog indoors with a fan moving the air until the symptoms fade. You can then transfer the dog into an air-conditioned room to bring down the body temperature further.
Dogs tend to run free a lot more in the summer, which puts them in danger of getting hit by a car, but the biggest problem concerning automobiles is when a pet is left inside. Even with the windows cracked, it can easily get too hot in the car for the dog to regulate its body temperature, leaving it susceptible to heatstroke. Not only is locking your dog in the car risking your dog’s life, but many states are not creating laws that will open you up to fines and jail time for doing so.
Most of us have stepped on hot pavement and know how painful it can be. It’s the same for dogs, and hot surfaces can burn the paws and quickly raise the body temperature into the heatstroke zone. We recommend only allowing your pet to walk on surfaces you would walk on without shoes.
The thick double coat on many dog breeds can make it difficult for them to get through hot summer days. Frequently brushing your dog can help remove any excess fur that could increase the temperature of your pet. Brushing also helps stimulate blood flow bringing it closer to the skin, where it can help cool your pet down.
While water is essential to your dog on hot days, it can also be dangerous. Water grows bacteria aster as the temperature rises, which puts your dog at risk of ingesting it. Water bowls of stationary water can often contain bacteria if not changed frequently. Water fountains can help keep the water free of bacteria longer while enticing your dog to drink. Unfortunately, there are many other water sources your dog can get into, including puddles, rivers, ponds, and more. Swimming pools can also be dangerous for dogs that don’t know how to swim, and even a good swimming dog might have trouble getting out of an above-ground pool. Never let your dog in the water unattended, and never try to force the dog in.
While your dog’s coat will protect it from much of the ultraviolet light, there are still areas that can receive a sunburn, including the nose, tongue, ears, and eyes. Leaving your dog in direct sunlight for too long can cause burns in these areas that can be painful and leave the dog at risk for skin cancer later in life.
Dogs are curious animals and are more than a little likely to stick their nose in a bee’s nest at some point which can expose them to many painful stings and possible infections. Some stings can produce severe reactions and may even be fatal. If your dog has sudden diarrhea, severe hives, and itchiness after a bee sting, we recommend taking it to the vet immediately.
Snakes can be another serious threat to your nosey dog. There are many species of snakes all over the United States, and many of them are poisonous. While dog’s reflexes are much faster than ours, they can still get bit, and the toxin will work the same way. If you think a snake bit your dog and there is swelling in the area, try to immediately identify the snake and contact your vet.
Ticks spread Lyme disease, among others, and present one of the biggest health risks to your dog in the summer. Ticks come out all year long when the temperature is above 40 degrees. Dogs love to sniff around in the thick brush and could pick up a dozen ticks in a single trip through the woods. If you take your dog into the foods or anywhere with tall grass, it is critical to check it frequently for ticks and remove them immediately. There are dozens of inexpensive tools that you can use to remove them quickly before they can transmit disease.
Mosquitos are likely the second biggest health threat to your dog during the summer months. These small insects carry any number of diseases, but the most common is heartworm. As the name suggests, heartworm affects your pet’s heart and can be potentially life-threatening. Most flea and tick medications also protect the dog from heartworm, and we highly recommend using one if you will be allowing your pet outside in the summer.
The last health threat that often occurs in the summer is fleas. Fleas are everywhere outside and will quickly jump on your dog and begin multiplying. Fleas can spread disease and be painful and annoying to your dog. It can also be difficult to get rid of them, and if you haven’t taken steps to prevent them, there is a high likelihood your dog will get them. Most veterinary clinics sell medication that will keep the fleas off your dog for at least 30 days.
As you can see, there are several risks that you should consider and prepare for as the summer approaches to avoid any problems. We recommend getting flea medication that will protect your dog from fleas, ticks, and heartworm. Ensure there is a shady area your dog can use to get out of the sun if it needs to and keep plenty of fresh cool water near your dog. Let it into the house with running fans or air conditioners if it wants to cool down and never lock it in a car unattended.
We hope you have enjoyed reading over this guide and found it informative. If we have helped keep your dog healthy during the dog days of summer, please share these 12 common summer health issues in dogs on Facebook and Twitter.
Featured Image Credit: Rebekah Zemansky, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.