Keeping Pets Healthy and Happy this Summer

by | General Pet Care |

There are certain things I associate with the beginning of summer. Freshly cut grass, the sound of the ice cream truck and hearing on the news that Highway 400 is backed up for miles. Another thing that I associate with summer is the unusual sight of Jersey, sleeping on our cold ceramic floor. During all other seasons, Jersey would rather be outside in the backyard, snoozing under a shady tree or protecting our yard from the ever-present threat of evil squirrels. She is like the superhero of our backyard, and she takes this responsibility very seriously.

During summer however, her double-coat hinders her ability to perform her superhero duties. Even five minutes in 15-20 degree heat will make her pant and start whining to come inside. Somewhere in a secret lair, squirrels are laughing and plotting their revenge on my furry superhero.

While the woodland animals rejoice, Jersey doesn’t have the energy to do much. She sort of hibernates during the summer season, preferring the cold floor and air conditioned house to the scorching heat of the outdoors. I tend to keep her on a little more of a routine during the summer than the other seasons, to make sure she still gets outside enough to have fresh air, exercise and the opportunity to use the bathroom without over-heating.

• Longer walks in the early morning or evening, and short walks (in shaded areas, when possible) during early afternoon, when it’s the hottest part of the day.

• Extra bowls of fresh water, both inside and out. Keep an eye on your pet’s water consumption, as not drinking enough water can be hazardous to their health.

• Access to a cool spot, such as somewhere quiet and dark in the house

• Take your pet swimming at pet-friendly lakes when possible. Even the most water-averse dog tends to gravitate towards cool water during the heat of summer, just to dip those toes in and have a drink!

• Don’t allow your pet to over-exert themselves while playing with canine friends. Running around in a thick coat during a hot day can cause dehydration, which is dangerous for your pet.

During the summer months, use common sense and be aware of your pet’s response to the heat. Some dogs are more affected than others. For dogs like Jersey, who tend to be winter warriors instead of spirited summer-lovers due to heavy coats, be aware of their special needs during the summer months and give them a break on outdoor activities in the heat. If you have a very active dog, be prepared to keep them mentally entertained with extra bones or things to do while indoors.

You need to be especially aware of dehydration in your pet during summer months. Symptoms can include lethargy, sunken and dull eyes, loss of appetite/thirst and a dry mouth or nose. Dehydration can also be spotted by a slow capillary-refill response time. If you press gently but firmly on your pet’s gums, they should appear temporarily whitish in colour and then turn pink again within two seconds. If there is a delay in the refill response, your pet could be exhibiting signs of dehydration. If you are uncertain, call or visit your veterinarian. Above all else, NEVER leave your dog in the car especially during summer months. On a mild 22ºC day, the temperature inside a car can reach 48ºC in 30 minutes. On a 32ºC day, the interior of a vehicle can reach 71ºC in minutes.

Select dog parks in your area may offer a “water” option. There is a dog park in my area that has a large kiddie-pool filled with water during the summer months. It is up to area residents who use the dog park to keep it clean and filled with fresh, cold water so keep that in mind while your dog is using it.

Have fun at a pet-friendly beach this summer!

To find a list of Ontario beaches that are pet friendly and allow dogs on the beaches, visit OntarioParks.com to learn more.

While the summer provides lots of opportunities to have fun with your pet, be aware of your pet’s physical condition and their sensitivity to the heat. While the squirrels may have won this round, Jersey will be back out fighting against the forces of evil soon enough!