Spending time with your dog is one of the best ways to show them you care. In addition to feeding them healthy food, giving them proper pet care, and ensuring regular exercise, every dog owner should take time to play with their dog. Not only does it help you keep your dog healthy and safe, but the quality time you spend with them is good for their mentality and helps you to return some of that unconditional love and happiness that they give to us. Need some tips to safely include your dog in summer activities? We’ve got them. From walks and trips to the park to getting them their favorite treat as well as giving tons of belly rubs and those behind the ear scratches in just the right spot, your pup will be the happiest in the world. Check out these activities you can do with your dog, but first learn about Florida’s year-round pet safety concerns, including heat and water dangers.
When planning an outing with your dog, research potential hazards and consider Florida’s heat. While it’s always a concern, summer temperatures and humidity often reach into the 90s and higher. Unlike humans, dogs can be easily overheated because they are only able to perspire through panting and their paws.
- Consider early morning or evening outings with your dog.
- Learn the signs of heatstroke for dogs.
- Dogs with dark coats are more susceptible to heatstroke when exposed to direct sunshine during exercise.
- Bring a first aid kit on outings.
- Carry fresh water with you at all times.
- Keep important details in your phone such as your veterinarian’s phone number as well as a nearby 24/7 emergency vet clinic.
- Get your dog an ID tag for their collar in case you become lost from each other during an outing.
- In the summer, sidewalks and roadways can be extra hot. Try walking in the grass, or purchase a set of cooling booties for your pup to keep their paw pads safe from the heat. You can also try paw cream for paws that need some extra care. Cooling vests are available as well and can help keep your dog from overheating.
Most dogs love to play in the water. Although a swim at the beach or in a freshwater lake may seem like the perfect summer activity to help keep your dog cool, it’s important to be aware that hazards can be associated with these types of water bodies. The best water sources for your dog to cool off on a hot day include jumping in the pool or running through a backyard sprinkler. Toss in a few of their favorite toys and they’ll have a blast. Many dog parks also have water features if backyard space is limited.
Keeping Your Dog Safe at the Beach
An outing to the beach can be a fun experience for you and your dog! Here are some helpful tips to consider when planning a beach adventure to ensure safety for your best friend.
- Not all dogs can swim.
The doggy paddle does not come naturally to all dogs. Certain short-legged breeds like Corgis, Basset Hounds, and Pugs don’t swim. Find out if your dog can swim by starting in calm water and keeping them on a leash until you are certain they can swim back to shore.
- Big waves.
Even if your dog may be a strong swimmer, large waves and rip tides can be very dangerous. Consider keeping your dog on a leash so they don’t go out too far, or purchase a dog life jacket in case they get too tired or become caught in a riptide.
- Drinking saltwater.
Be sure to bring plenty of fresh water and a bowl for your dog to drink from. If your dog ingests saltwater, they may be exposed to bacteria and parasites in the water that can cause them to become sick.
- Beware of submerged dangers.
When you arrive at the beach, look for sharp rocks, shells, coral, or jellyfish that might injure your dog. Bring along a first aid kit to promptly deal with any minor injuries.
- Protect your dog from the sun.
Provide shade with a beach umbrella and consider a dog-friendly sunscreen. (Note that many sunscreens made for humans can be toxic to dogs.) Also, consider doggy sun goggles to protect your pooch’s eyes from harmful rays.
- Rinse thoroughly.
At the end of your beach adventure, take time to rinse the salt, sand, and microscopic organisms from your dog’s coat. Be sure to dry your dog’s ears, too, as moisture in the ear canal can cause ear infections.
Many water-borne diseases used to be confined to certain parts of the U.S. But with climate change, infectious diseases are now being reported in new areas.
- Your veterinarian can be a good source of information on the diseases prevalent in your area.
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also has information on diseases that may affect your pet.
- Check with your local health department to learn about any concerns of harmful bacteria or algae blooms in your area before heading to the beach or lake.
Some harmful diseases associated with freshwater include the following:
- Leptospirosis, which is caused by bacteria. Dogs contract the disease through contact with infected urine or water.
- Giardiasis, which is caused by ingesting parasites often found in water. It can cause diarrhea and other gastrointestinal issues.
- Protothecosis, which can be fatal in immunosuppressed dogs. Protothecosis is caused by an algae (Prototheca spp.) found in warm, humid regions such as the Gulf Coast states.
Alligators & Other Reptiles
Freshwater lakes and canals are home to alligators and poisonous snakes. A dog or cat can appear as prey to these animals.
Don’t walk your dog along the edges of lakes, ponds, or wetlands that could be home to these large reptiles. If you spot an alligator, move away quickly. In recent years, Florida has seen an increase in alligator attacks against dogs.
Summer Activities For Your Dog
With recommended safety precautions in mind, check out these fun summer activities you can do with your dog!
A Walk in the Park
Do your dog’s ears perk up the moment you start to say the word walk? Or have you spelled it out so many times (W-A-L-K) that they’ve become a spelling champ? If your dog loves the park, or just going for a walk or hike with you outside, grab their leash and watch that excited look wash over their adorable little face. Be sure to take along freshwater to keep your dog hydrated, and check with your local parks to learn about any pet restrictions. To avoid negative dog interactions like fights with other dogs, some dog parks prohibit you from bringing treats or having a picnic with your canine buddy.
Going Through the Drive-Thru
Did you know that Starbucks also caters to dog owners? Next time you’ve got your pup in the car with you, go through your nearest Starbucks drive-thru and ask for a Puppuccino. It’s a cup full of whipped cream just for your pup. There’s no caffeine of any kind in the cup, just whipped cream, so it’s safe and delicious.
You can also order specialty food treats for your dog through a variety of online stores. Try Chewy for a great birthday box (also good for summertime fun, even if their birthday is in winter) as well as Bark Bars. You can also search local dog bakeries near you in your favorite search engine, or even find recipes to make yourself. Try dog cookies, cupcakes, and even popsicles, which are a guaranteed favorite on a hot day. Just keep pet care in mind when making any DIY dog treats and make sure any treats have only the best ingredients that are safe for your dog to consume.
Consider getting your dog a new summer toy. Whether it’s a tried and true favorite or something completely new, they’ll have so much fun playing with their new toy and their favorite human. You can also take them to a location they love and take photos together. Going camping with friends or family? Bring your dog along for a fun adventure you’ll both love. Make sure you include any necessary equipment to keep your dog safe if staying in a campground and check ahead to ensure your dog will be permitted.
How will you treat your dog this summer?