Summer Safety Best Practices for Dogs

 By Lynn Stacy-Smith

Jax by frisbee - Summer Pet Safety


If you’re like me you are as happy as Olaf the Snowman to finally have summer in your neck of the woods.  I love summer mornings outside with my dogs, playing an easygoing game of Frisbee without bundling up in boots and multiple layers or being pelted in the face with sleet and snow. Summer evenings are just as wonderful with so much daylight available to have even more outdoor play sessions with my pups.

Just like during winter, though, there are summer hazards for dogs to consider when outside with your pup.  Here are some things to be aware of when you are enjoying your summer with your dogs:

maggie going for a ride (2) - Summer Pet Safety - Best Practices for DogsHot cars: Fortunately this attention is getting a lot of awareness through social media channels. Unfortunately not every dog owner has gotten the message and some dogs still suffer and die in hot cars.  As a general rule I personally do not take my dogs for rides if I have to leave them in the car alone no matter the season or temperature; they are happy and safe waiting for me at home if I have errands to run. Our car rides are for trips when I can take them everywhere I need to go, whether it is to the veterinarian’s office or on a hike. I also recommend using your auto-start feature if available to start to cool your car before you and your dog enter or open windows prior to getting in with your dog to allow some of the heat to escape.

Hot pavement:  There are several internet memes circulating that advise dog owners to test hot pavement with the back of their hands. You can also use your bare feet to test. Sometimes walking on pavement is hard to avoid so look for grassy areas to cross onto as quickly as possible or consider purchasing protective booties for your dog’s paws.

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Grills: Grilling food outside is one of the great human pleasures of summer.  All of those yummy smells can also attract inquisitive dogs who can burn themselves by walking too close to hot grills or by jumping up to investigate what’s for dinner. As I recently discovered with my own Labradors, there is also the fat catching cup on the bottom of some grills; as someone who takes my dogs’ nutrition very seriously and only feeds Canine Caviar holistic pet food, the last thing I want in my dog’s belly is the fat from recently grilled bratwursts.

Open Fence Gates:  Here in the Chicago suburbs summer is the time when everyone is outside with neighborhood kids stopping to visit, lawn services and poop scooping services doing their weekly jobs. The chance of a fence gate being left open increases in the summer. Avoid lost dogs by keeping an eye on fence gates each time you and your dogs go into the yard; checking your gates to ensure that they are closed is an easy preventative measure to ensure that it was not left open.

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Swimming Pools: Swimming pool solar covers can be confusing to dogs; they look like the water in your pool but dogs can easily become entangled in them and drown if you are not looking. Above ground pools can also pose a hazard to dogs who can leap into a pool but do not have a way back out of the pool.

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Poisonous Flowers/Plants: Review this list of pet poisons at the Pet Poison Hotline to make sure that you are not growing a poisonous plant in your own yard.

Accompanying your dog outside is overall a best practice even for owners with a fenced yard. As a dog owner who has had two puppies in a row I am now in the habit of going outside with them each and every time. A nice side effect of this is that not only do I keep an eye on their safety, but I find myself playing more games of fetch, having more time to study their intriguing dog behavior and more time to bond with them. And just like my dogs, in summer, I’ll take any excuse to go outside.