Enjoy The Dog Days Of Summer

Between traveling and spending time outdoors, summer can be both a fun and stressful season for dogs and their owners. To help us keep our furry friends healthy and happy throughout the hottest months, we reached out to Hannah Witten, owner of Fort Worth’s WAG (and mother to Labrador retriever Sage and Rhodesian Ridgeback mix Roo) for advice; here are her recommendations:

1. Have a pre-vacation chat with your vet. Before hitting the road with my girls, I ask their vet about any precautions I should take for keeping them safe. For instance, we spend a lot of time on ranch land, so it is highly important that they have their rattlesnake vaccine and their Leptospirosis vaccine.

2. Stay up to date on preventatives. Keep current on flea, tick and heartworm medication. Mosquitos are rampant pests in the summer, and heartworm is transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitos.

3. Make sure your contact information is current. Whether you are boarding, leaving your dog with a sitter, or taking your dog with you on any trips, be sure that his ID tags and microchip are up to date and reflect your current contact information.

4. If you can’t take the heat…then it is certainly too hot for your dog! Days that are warm for us are especially hot for our dogs. Bring your pet inside for the summer and let her skip the errand runs. We all think we can just “run in” to the local boutique or grocery store, but it’s easy to lose track of time, and the inside of our cars are essentially ovens.

5. Be weary of blacktop pavement or hot surfaces. If you must take your dog out on a surface that will be hot under his paws, consider investing in shoes to protect your dog’s feet.

6. If you include your pal in your outdoor fun (hiking, camping, having a picnic, etc.), be sure to have a way to cool him down while you’re out. Swimming is a good cool-down activity, but when that’s not an option I soak a couple of cooling vests in water, stick them inside plastic bags, and put them in an ice-filled cooler to keep them cold until they’re needed. Then, I strap them onto the dogs until they’re comfortable. If you don’t have a cooling vest, you could make your own version with an old towel. And always have clean drinking water available for your dog. Dehydration is dangerous!

7. Help your pet feel safe during fireworks. Many dogs (including my Roo) are terrified of the 4th of July tradition; to help them cope, create a space where your pal will feel safe. I use a noise machine to help drown out the sound, and make sure I have a few of Roo’s favorite chews on hand to distract her. I also offer her plenty of reassurance and support.

8. Celebrate summer with dog-friendly activities. Some of our favorites include getting syrup-free snow cones (aka just the “snow”) from our local snow cone stand for Sage and Roo; freezing their favorite toys and treats in a bucket of water and letting them lick and bite their way through the icy puzzle; and setting up a good, old-fashioned kiddy pool in the backyard (bonus: this can function as what we call the “bath in disguise”). Most importantly, have fun and WAG on!

TSG Tip 111: from Hannah Witten, owner of WAG in Fort Worth, TX.