Although this summer looks drastically different from the ones we are used to, for our pets it still holds many of the same adventures they relish. Here in South Florida, some pups love to take a dip in the pool or in the ocean at the dog beach, spend more time outside in the backyard, go on walks, and even accompany their human parents on road trips–whether across the state or across town. Make sure that this summer is one to remember in a good way, by keeping your dog safe at all times.
While some dogs are natural-born swimmers, other dogs simply aren’t built for the water so don’t assume that your dog will be able to swim. Bulldogs, dachshunds, and pug-type dogs with short snouts are examples of dogs that aren’t naturally gifted at aquatics due to their short stature and breathing issues. If you’re not sure whether your pooch will sink or swim–start them off in a kiddie pool or other controlled environment when you can be in the water with them to help them and watch them closely. It is always best to use a doggie life jacket for them to keep them safe and afloat in the water and is a must if you are taking your dog on a boat, paddleboarding or out for another activity where they might fall in the water as even dogs who are great swimmers can tire out and be at risk of drowning. Keep in mind that drinking pond and ocean water is bad for dogs and can cause nausea, dehydration, or even poisoning from toxins in the water so pack plenty of fresh water for them to drink during their swimming adventure.
Beat the Heat
By far the most dangerous element of summer for dogs, especially in South Florida, is the heat. Scorching temperatures can be painful or even fatal for dogs if not monitored closely.
Rule number one of summer–or anytime–is never, ever, ever leave your dog alone in the car. Even with the windows cracked temperatures can rise drastically in minutes and heatstroke can be deadly to dogs of all sizes and breeds. If you see a dog in a parked car with the windows up, call the police immediately. Laws in many states, including Florida, make it illegal to leave your animal unattended in a parked car with the windows up and legal for concerned Good Samaritans to smash a window if they believe the dog to be at risk.
Hot pavement is another hazard for pets during the summer months. Dogs’ paws are sensitive just like human feet and hands and a good rule of thumb is that if the pavement is too hot for you to walk on with your bare feet, it is far too hot for your dog. To avoid causing your dog pain, stick to shaded areas, grass, sidewalks (non-asphalt), or, if you have to walk across hot asphalt you can put protective booties on your pup that will cushion their feet against the heat.
Lastly, keep in mind that even if you are outside and in the shade, warmer temperatures make it more difficult for dogs to perform physical activities. A pup that may have been able to walk three miles in cooler temperatures may not be able to walk nearly the same distance in hotter temperatures. In the extreme heat of summer, cut back on physical activity, keep your dog well-hydrated and monitor for signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion. If your dog is panting, warm to the touch, has dry nose, vomits, is unresponsive to commands, or is staggering, stop all activity and bring your dog indoors or to a shady area . If your pet’s condition is severe and does not improve quickly, take your dog to an emergency veterinarian immediately.
Don’t Forget Fireworks
Fourth of July may be long gone, but Miamians like to celebrate well beyond with backyard holiday fireworks. Between festivals, parties, sporting events and backyard fiestas, it can feel like every summer night sky is filled with loud noises and bright lights, that while fun for you, may be downright terrifying for your pup. To keep your dog safe, remember to plan for the worst and ensure that your pet’s ID tags are on at all times and that their microchips are up-to-date and registered. Is your dog a Houdini who can slip out of its collar? Try a harness instead and remember to never, ever let your dog off-leash in an open area. Even the most obedient dogs can be spooked and run away because of fireworks or other loud noises.
Be Hurricane Ready
In addition to the normal hazards of summer in South Florida, June through November also bring us hurricane season. In addition to preparing your home or apartment for a potential natural disaster, it’s important to have a plan in place for your pet’s safety. For starters, assemble a pet emergency bag that you can take with you if you need to evacuate with your pets, or that will help sustain you at home in the case of a power outage or extended time without being able to access your local pet store, or veterinarian. Stay in contact with our County’s emergency management advisories so that you know of any emergency plans for pets and their families, should you need safe haven.
It’s important to have some basics to have in your Pet Hurricane Kit, and below are some key
times for you to keep on hand:
- Bottled water
- One to two weeks’ worth of your pet’s food
- Collapsible food and water bowls
- Extra Leash, collar and harness
- Pet life jacket and paw protectors
- Basic pet first-aid kit
- List of medications and refills on any necessary medication
Plus, make sure that you have contact information and directions to pet-friendly shelters and your veterinarian stored in your phone.