January 13 2019

Summer is one of the best times to be a dog parent! There are so many fun activities you can do with your pooch! Whether you’re hiking, jogging, boating, going to the dog park or staying in your own dog-friendly back yard paradise, make sure you keep your dog safe.

Don’t be bothered by bugs or let your dog become victim to the heat. We put together this list to help you protect your dog so you can both enjoy the beauty of summer this year.

 dog in backyard summertime

Don’t Let Pests Bug Your Dog: How to Keep Your Dog Free of Ticks, Fleas, and other Bug Bites

The warmth of summer brings along the buzz of insects, and unfortunately, pests that will bother your pooch. Nothing can make your skin crawl like seeing your dog scratching like crazy or seeing little bugs crawling in your dog’s coat. Pests like fleas, ticks, and mosquitos aren’t just gross. They can seriously make your dog sick.

One of the most common summer pests is the flea. They’re found all over the country, but they can be the worst in warm, southern regions. One flea can reproduce to 500 fleas in just 21 days. These little bloodsuckers can cause your dog to itch himself raw, but they are also responsible for anemia and tapeworms. Many dogs also experience a flea dermatitis, an allergic reaction to the flea’s saliva. Dogs with flea allergies often chew their tails raw and develop hot spots that can be quite painful.

Ticks may be less common than fleas, but they are equally disgusting. A trip to a local park or a quick hike can result in your dog becoming the host to countless ticks. When I first moved to Jacksonville, Florida I took my dogs on a summer hike, and my Catahoula came home with over thirty ticks. This shattered my peace of mind with worries about my dog contracting Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, or babesiosis. This doesn’t even take into account the icky feeling of the potential of a tick dropping off my dog as we snuggle and possibly attaching to me.

And, of course, there’s the all-too-common mosquito. Mosquitos aren’t just itchy. Always ready to drink you or your dog’s blood, the mosquito is also the main carrier of Heartworm.  Heartworm is one of the most frightening parasites that can wreak havoc on your dog’s health. Your dog won’t even test positive for Heartworm for months after contracting the parasite. Heartworm is known to grow and grow, eventually clogging your dog’s arteries leading to heart attack and serious heart conditions.

Mites are mighty irritating to dogs. They can burrow into your dog’s skin or ears. And boy are they itchy. Sometimes dogs suffering from mites are diagnosed with mange. If you’re taking your dog to the dog park this summer, he may be at risk for mites since they’re often spread through contact with other dogs.

There are also the less common, but just as pesky bugs like spiders, ants, and wasps. Many dogs experience reactions to these bugs. I’ve even brought my dog to the vet after he began to limp after a fire ant bite to the paw. Always be on the lookout!

Signs Your Dog May have a Bug Problem

  • Excessive scratching
    • If your dog is scratching his ears, he might have mites.
    • Fleas often hide along your dog’s collar and neck.
  • Skin Irritation
    • Fleas can cause rashes to dogs with flea allergies
    • Minor scrapes and redness if often caused by fleas and mites
    • Visible red welts can be caused by spider, ant, or mosquito bites
  • Visible signs of creepy crawlies
  • Flea dirt: flea dirt is a by-product of fleas, in other words, flea poo. It looks like crumbly dirt.
  • Hair loss
  • Head shaking can be a sign of ear mites!

husky puppy scratching for fleas

How to Protect Your Dog from Summer Insects

1.  Protect Your Dog from Fleas

Even though fleas are most prevalent during the summer, you’ll want to treat your dog before summer arrives. Treat your dog all year long if you live in a warm or hot climate like Florida, Texas, or Arizona. Fleas thrive in temperatures between 65- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit. This means that fleas may be able to survive in your home even in the winter.

You also want to make sure that you toss out any old flea treatments since most don’t age well.

Brush or groom your pet regularly. This will help to catch the problem early on, so it doesn’t get worse over time.

You’ll also want to treat your lawn for fleas during the summer.

Most importantly, take your dog to the vet to get a medicine that will work for him. There are topical treatments and pills your vet can prescribe. There are also over the counter remedies that may be effective if your area isn’t prone to fleas. These include flea collars, sprays, and powders.

Natural Flea Remedies

If you’re into natural alternatives to harsh treatments, there are plenty of homeopathic remedies that can reduce and prevent fleas. These work best in areas where fleas are not an excessive problem.  Skip the harsh chemicals when treating your yard and opt for nematodes. These worm-like creatures actually eat fleas!

Mowing your lawn regularly also reduces the risk of fleas.

Holistic dog owners love Diatomaceous Earth. This non-toxic powder breaks apart and dehydrates flea eggs, so they don’t hatch.

You can also feed your dog small amounts of garlic. Make sure you begin a garlic regimen one month before summer. You can safely give your pup ¼ of a clove of garlic for every ten pounds of dog.

Apple cider vinegar has also proven effective in preventing flea outbreaks. The acidic nature of vinegar can prevent fleas from surviving on your dog’s coat. You can mix 3 parts apple cider vinegar to 2 parts water and a little sea salt as a topical spray for your dog.

2.  Say “No Way!” to Ticks

Ticks can be tricky to treat since they’re more occasional than fleas. But there is plenty you can do you prevent your dog from becoming a victim to ticks and possibly Lyme Disease.

The first and easiest way to keep ticks off your dog is to avoid tick-prone areas. This means avoiding tall grass or areas that wild animals like deer and rabbits may live. If you’re going for a hike in the woods, try to keep your dog on the trail. And keep in mind that ticks love leaf litter.

If your dog can’t resist trampling through the woods, then there are other precautions you can take to keep the ticks off your pooch. Take your dog to the vet. Many oral flea medicines can also prevent ticks.

You can also pick up a medicated tick shampoo. Give your pup the full spa treatment with a tick dip every two weeks.

Find a double-duty flea collar that also prevents ticks.

Along with tick shampoos, you can also find tick powders and tick sprays at most stores. If you’re using a tick powder, always avoid applying it near your dog’s eyes and face. The same goes for sprays. Tick sprays are great for spot-treatment on live ticks but can also be used between shampoos and before hikes.

Remember to always check your dog for ticks after walks and hikes. Ticks love to hide in warm, damp areas. Check your pup’s armpits, ears, neck, and between the toes. Finding ticks before they have a chance to bite can prevent illness and discomfort. If you find one that’s already taken a bite out of your pup, make sure you remove the tick in its entirety.

boys giving dog a bath outside in summer

3.  Don’t Give Mites a Chance

Mites can be easy to prevent and detect. First and foremost, clean your dog’s ears regularly. You can pick up ear wipes at most stores. And your vet can prescribe you ear drops or ear flushes.

Avoiding contact with other dogs is another way to avoid the risk of mites. You may want to skip a trip to the dog park and avoid cats that are allowed outdoors.

There are even natural remedies for mites, too!

An apple cider vinegar and water solution can make for an effective ear flush or wiping solution if your dog is experiencing mites.

If your dog contracts ear mites, make sure you wash his bedding thoroughly. It’s always a good idea to wash his bedding regularly to prevent mites.

Blue anti tick and flea collar on cute dog

4.  Avoid and Treat Spiders, Ants, Wasps, and Mosquitos

Don’t let your dog explore the outdoors unsupervised. If you keep a close eye on your dog, you’ll find you can avoid bites from ants, wasps, and spiders. There have been countless times I’ve had to drag my dog off an active ant pile or knocked a spider off his back. You can also pull your dog away from areas where you know there are wasp nests.

Mosquitos are often found in damp areas where their larva can hatch. Keep your dog away from stagnant pools or sitting bins of water.

If your dog does get bit, don’t panic. First, check to make sure your dog doesn’t have a stinger still stuck in him. If he does, grab the tweezers to remove it.

Bee and wasp stings can be smoothed with Aloe Vera. Other bumps can be treated with baking soda and water until the bump disappears.

For excess scratching from mosquito bites or ant bites, try milk of magnesia and calamine lotion. I’ve had great success with topical hydrocortisone creams. And Epsom salt and oatmeal treatments can do an excellent job of reducing irritation.

If your dog experiences a severe allergic reaction, immediately take him to the vet. Insect reactions can cause infection, breathing issues, and severe swelling if left untreated. When it comes to severe bites, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

 

How to Keep Your Dog Cool in the Summer Heat

dog eating popsicle summer

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke can become a hazard in the summer sun. Heat exhaustion can have serious effects, including cardiac arrest and heat stroke. Avoid the risk of injuring your dog by keeping him cool while enjoying the summertime fun!

Some dogs are more sensitive to the heat. If you have a Husky or a thick-coated dog, your dog may have a higher risk of experiencing negative effects of hot weather. Dogs with short snouts, also known as “brachycephalic airway syndrome,” are also more prone to developing heat exhaustion. The same is true for older dogs and dogs with a few extra pounds on them.

Careless owners are the most common cause of heatstroke and heat exhaustion in dogs. So, make sure you do your part to prevent your pup from heat-related injuries.

Signs your dog may be experiencing heat stroke:

Early Signs

  • Glazed eyes
  • Excessive drooling
  • Foamy saliva
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Fever
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness or lethargy

Progressed Symptoms: 

  • Bright red or blue gums or tongue
  • Muscles shaking
  • Trouble walking
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Extremely quick panting without signs of slowing down
  • If you carry a thermometer, temperatures about 101.5deg F
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Collapsing and convulsions

What can you do to keep your dog comfortable in the heat and prevent heat exhaustion and heatstroke?

 

5.  Watch Out for Hot Sidewalks, Pavement, Asphalt

Our dogs, at least most of them, don’t wear shoes. This means they’re more susceptible to the heat and dangers of the ground. Beware that artificial turf can be hotter than asphalt, and brick is close behind.  One of the best ways to avoid injury to your pup’s paws is to take him out early in the morning or in the evening. And always opt to walk on concrete or other cool surfaces such as grass or a dirt trail.

Hot surfaces like black asphalt can burn your dog’s paws and pads. Your dog sweats from his feet, so having healthy pads is vital to thriving in the summer heat.

Test the surface. Put your hand on the ground where your dog will be walking. If you can’t tolerate your hand being on the surface for more than a few seconds, it’s too hot for your dog!

And of course, you can invest in a comfortable pair of dog boots. If you’re considering purchasing boots, keep in mind that they shouldn’t be worn for extended periods of time since dogs sweat from their feet. And it can take some time for your dog to adjust to wearing footwear.

We also recommend picking up a product like Musher’s Secret or another paw protector to help protect your pup’s paws.

If you think your dog may have experienced paw pad burns, make sure you bring them to the vet, avoid hot pavement, and let them heal! You should try to discourage your dog from licking injured paws. And pick up dog socks to help your dog be more comfortable on walks.

woman walking dog in park

6.  Get Your Pup a Fresh Trim

Summertime is a great time for a fresh trim. If you have a thick-coated pooch, you may want to consider bringing him into the groomer before the heat of summer strikes. Reducing your dog’s coat can help keep him cool in the summer. And there’s nothing cuter than a dog sporting a fresh lion cut.

Dogs with already short coats do not need to be trimmed. In fact, trimming these dogs can result in sunburn.

Some dogs with double coats may not adjust well to a shave. Always ask a groomer or your vet if your dog is a good candidate for a haircut.

Yorkshire Terrier being groomed hair cut trim

7.  Keep Your Dog Cool with a Cooling Pad or Damp Towel

If your dog tends to get hot easily, you can pick up a cooling pad for the patio or his favorite spot to relax inside the house. You can even put down a few damp towels on the porch in the shade, so your dog has a spot to take it easy as you grill out or garden.

8.  Let Your Dog Get Wet and Wild

Do you remember how fun it was to slip and slide or play with the hose as a kid? Well, your dog never outgrows the fun of some old-fashioned wet fun. Turn on the hose and watch your playful pup chomp at the stream of water. Or spray your pooch as he plays a game of fetch.

I also plan all of my summer hikes and walks to include a watering hole for my dogs to plop in or wade into. I even play water fetch with my Dutch Shepherd. He loves diving face first into the water after a stick or ball. And I love knowing he’s able to cool off as the mercury rises.

I’ve even gotten my dogs a baby pool during the summer, which they love. It’s a great way to let your dogs cool off, and you can sneak in a doggie bath or two.

black lab in baby pool summer

9.  Your Dog Deserves a Big Fan

I’ve never seen a dog happier than my mom’s Australian Shepherd hunkered dog in front of his fan on a hot summer day. A box fan or standing fan is a great way to create a breeze to help your hound keep cool. You can even try out a mister for a little extra cool off.

10.  Your Dog Will Need Shade

Whether you’re taking your dog on a hike or just hanging out in the backyard, dogs need refuge from the sun. Provide your dog with plenty of shade to help keep him cool.

If you’re going on a hike, plan for plenty of breaks out of the scorching sun. You can even pack a thin mat for your dog to lie on as you both rest in the shade.

If you’re spending a lot of time in the backyard grilling out or as the kids swim in the pool, make sure there’s a covered area for your dog to relax during the heat of the day.

It’s important to remember that cement can get extremely hot and uncomfortable for dogs to lie on. You can buy a beach umbrella if you don’t have an overhang. There are other creative ideas, too, like building a fort or buying a small shade tree or sunshade.

dog resting in hammock in shade

11.  Timing is Everything: Time Your Activities for Mornings or Evenings

If you run with your dog or have a super active dog that enjoys agility training, you’ll want to schedule these activities outside of the hottest hours of the day.

Noon is not the best time to decide to hike through the wide-open prairie or up a mountain. Midday should be reserved for shorter activities like potty breaks or a quick dip in the baby pool. The sun’s heat is most severe when directly overhead.

Use the mornings and evening to your advantage by planning to run, hike, or train during these times. The sun’s rays are less direct when they travel greater distances through the atmosphere.

You can also think about morning and evening activities as being a great way to start the day or wind down for the evening.

12.  Ice cubes, ice cube, ice cubes!

Many dogs just love ice cubes! And they’re an excellent way for your dog to cool off after a hot walk or intense play in the sun. Add a few ice cubes to your dog’s water bowl as an extra treat and to reduce his body temperature.

You can even bring ice cubes along for hikes. Bring a baggie of cubes in an insulated lunchbox to help your dog cool down mid-hike. I bring ice water for myself and my dogs on our summer hikes. It doesn’t add any extra weight and my dogs love the refreshingly cool water.

You can even keep a mini cooler in the car. If you’re going on a summer road trip, you can give your pup some ice in the car. This can reduce the mess of having a water bowl sloshing around and keep your pup hydrated in the summer heat.

dog cools off with head in bowl of ice cubes and water

13.  Don’t Forget the Sunscreen

You would never hit the beach without sunscreen or sunblock. You’ll want to protect your pup from sunburn, too with a little sunblock on his nose or any areas where his fur is thin.

Avoid sunscreens with zinc oxide—it is toxic for dogs. Opt for Bullfrog sunscreen if you can find it. It doesn’t have any zinc oxide and very little octisalate.

You can also pick up a rashguard shirt if your dog is prone to sunburns. And I highly recommend Doggles with UV protection if your dog spends a lot of time in the sun.

Don’t Let Your Dog Get Dehydrated

Summer is peak season for dehydration for people and their fuzzy pals. Water is the most important element of your dog’s overall health. Having fresh, clean water can help prevent heatstroke and heat exhaustion. Dehydration can also lead to kidney issues, urinary tract infections, and other health problems. Extreme dehydration can even be fatal for dogs.

Remember that many summer activities require your dog to expend more energy than usual. This means your dog can become dehydrated easier.

Signs of Canine Dehydration:

  • Lethargy
  • Excessive panting
  • Eyes appear sunken or dry (blinking)
  • Crusty/dry nose
  • Not wanting to eat
  • Skin is stiff - try the pinch-back test, see see video below
  • Dry gums
  • Lack of energy

What can you do to keep your dog hydrated?

The reality is that dogs need a lot of water. Throughout the day, your dog will sweat through his paws, urinate, and poop. All of these result in an overall loss of water that needs to be replenished.

14.  How Much Water Should My Dog Drink Daily?

According to Pet WebMD, dogs need one ounce of water per pound of body weight, per day.  This means my seventy-pound Dutch Shepherd should be drinking at least half a gallon of water per day. And he’ll need more if it is a hot day or  he’s having an extra active day full of fetch and running.

You should always pay attention to how much your dog is drinking. If you’re going on a hike, bring several bottles of water and note how much is in each bottle.

15.  Your Home Should Promote Pooch Hydration

At home, refill your dog’s water bowl frequently. Dogs are more likely to drink fresh water. And the sound of water being poured encourages your dog’s thirst instinct.

When it comes to dog hydration, out of sight is out of mind for your dog. Put out extra water bowls during the summer so your dog always has access to water no matter which room he’s in. This will also encourage more drinking.

If you have multiple dogs, make sure you have multiple bowls. Some dogs may hog the water bowl and discourage other dogs from getting as much water as they need.

As already mentioned, you can add some ice cubes to help convince your dog to drink as much as he needs. You can also add some veggies like carrots or green beans to water to help your dog explore the bowl and drink more. Think of it as bobbing for carrots.

cute puppy drinking water from dog bowl

 

16.  Your Dog is What He Eats

If you don’t think your dog is getting as much moisture as he needs, try out canned foods. Most wild animals get the majority of their moisture from their prey. The same is true for your domesticated canine buddy and he is  likely to be better hydrated if his diet contains water.

17.  Oh-no! You think Your Dog is Dehydrated!

If you think your dog is experiencing dehydration, it’s always a good idea to immediately swing past the vet. Remember that you’re always better off visiting a professional if you suspect your dog is in danger of dehydration or is dehydrated because it can be life threatening if your dog goes untreated.  

If you go the vet, they’ll be able to diagnose dehydration and give your dog needed fluids. Your dog will also need to take it easy while he recuperates.

Keep in Mind that Summer is Allergy Season for Dogs

Allergies are the worst. This is true or dogs and humans! Summer is prime time for pollen and other allergens. Summertime allergies mostly fall under the atopy, or environmental, form of allergies. When your dog experiences atopy, its body produces and releases excess histamine which leads to common allergy symptoms like itching, chewing, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes.

Many dogs are allergic to grass, ragweed, and other pollens. Being close to the ground can really put your dog in the midst of many irritants. If your dog’s eyes are red after a walk or his nose is drippy, he may have summertime allergies.

Allergies can cause your dog to sneeze, have itchy watery eyes, and even get rashes. My Dutch Shepherd often gets a dry cracked nose and paw pads from allergies. Overall, canine allergies can prevent your dog from having as much fun during the summer as he could!

Retrievers, Shepherds, Bulldogs, Beagles, Pit Bulls, Irish Setters, Brussels Griffon, Bull Terrier, Maltese, Boxers, Terriers, Dalmatians, Cocker Spaniels, and Bichon Frise are all high-risk breeds for allergies. If you are the proud dog parent of one of these beautiful breeds, make sure you keep a close eye on whether or not your dog seems to have summertime sensitivities.

Allergy Season Ahead Sign for How to Prevent and Reduce the Effects of Summertime Dog Allergies

Signs your dog may be experiencing allergies:

  • Itchy eyes
  • Wheezing
  • Flaky skin
  • Red bumps
  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy ears
  • Non-stop scratching/licking
  • Chewing on feet or base of tail
  • Hair loss
  • Hot spots
  • Ear infections

How to Prevent and Reduce the Effects of Summertime Dog Allergies

 

If you notice your dog is feeling the effects of summertime allergies, there are a few things you can try.

18.  Watch Where You Walk

Open fields can be a hazard for dogs with pollen and grass allergies. If you notice your dog is reacting to allergies after walks in the open field, try walking on the sidewalk rather than grass.

You can even try walking in the woods instead of an open field. Sometimes the grass-free, damp ground of undergrowth is easier on dogs with allergies.

19.  Mow your lawn, regularly

If your dog hangs out in the backyard a lot, you’ll want to mow often. When grass is able to reach full maturity, it’s more like to seed and cause airborne allergies that may bug your pup.

Keeping the grass short also reduces skin irritants for many dogs. If your grass is long enough to brush your dog’s belly, it’s probably too long. Many dogs have relatively bare bellies which makes them more prone to reacting to allergens and bug bites.

20.  Start an After-Walk Allergy Routine

Your dog’s coat can carry pollen and other allergens back home with him after walks. To reduce the effects of allergens and reduce the number of allergens that may affect your dog, give him a good wipe down when you get home. You can use a damp towel or purchase dog wipes. This will also help reduce dander.

Stop the Itch! Get a good allergy moisturizer and shampoo. If you notice your dog is constantly scratching from allergies, try a moisturizer and anti-itch wipes for skin irritation. You can also pick up hypoallergenic shampoo.

You can also spot treat allergies with Sulfodene products. These come in sprays, salves, creams, and ointments. And they’re sure to calm your pup’s skin and have him wagging again in no time.

21.  Your Dog’s Diet Can Help Combat Allergies

After noticing my dog itching and itching. I picked up a few supplements to help reduce the dryness and irritation he was experiencing. And they worked like a charm! He was itch-free within just a few days. I even noticed a significant improvement in his dry, cracked nose.

You should add itch suppressing supplements or allergy support supplements to your dog’s diet to see a huge improvement in scratching and irritation. You can even find seasonal allergy chews to specifically fight against those summertime allergens.

22.  Visit Your Vet for Extra Allergy Solutions

Your veterinarian can give your dog an allergy test, so you know exactly what he’s reacting to. These tests are usually comprised of several injections of allergens followed by waiting to see which your dog reacts to. You can even schedule immunotherapy, where the vet slowly increases a dose of an allergen to your dog, making him less sensitive to the allergen over time.

Your vet will know what’s best for your dog. Your vet can even recommend certain over the counter antihistamines that are safe for dogs. They can even tell you what the recommended dose for your dog may be. Antihistamines are great for about 30% of dogs and they work the same way for dogs as they do for people.

Remember, that like their effect on people, antihistamines can become less effective over time, and they may not work for every dog.

If all else fails, your vet can prescribe a small dose of steroids to help combat itchy, watery eyes, or other symptoms of allergies.

dachshund dog visiting the vet

23.  Try Some Home Remedies to Reduce the Effects of Allergies 

Many dog owners swear by increasing Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to their dog’s diet to alleviate itchy skin issues. Try adding salmon oil to your dog’s food to boost his fatty acids and moisturize his coat from within. Salmon oil has many benefits for your pup’s health, including supporting his skin health to reduce skin allergies. It also can reduce your dog’s runny nose. 

Other natural allergy remedies for pooches include coconut oil and Epsom salts. Start small, but you can safely feed your dog one teaspoon of coconut oil per ten pounds of dog. Coconut oil can reduce yeast infections in addition to helping heal hot spots. The coconut oil’s saturated fat has an antibacterial quality in addition to helping your dog maintain healthy skin and a shiny coat.

If you want a topical solution, Epsom salt can soothe your pup’s skin. Create a little Epsom salt and warm water mixture. Aim for about a cup of Epsom Salt per gallon of water. Then soak the area for about ten minutes. If the area isn’t easy to soak, try slowly pouring the Epsom salt mixture over the itchy area. Your dog will immediately feel the calming sensation while the Epsom salt will help heal any broken skin.

Final Thoughts - Get Ready For Summer Fun

As summer approaches, remember that it’s important to enjoy all the fun activities summer has to offer with your best pal! Don’t let common summertime hazards prevent you and your fuzzy friend from having a blast!

Remember that enjoying some fun in the sun can be carefree, but you should always keep your dog’s safety in mind. Keep your pup hydrated with plenty of fresh, cool water, and keep him made in the shade to reduce the risk of heat exhaustion. And don’t like bugs get you down, make sure you’re prepared with proper insect-solutions before your pup brings those creepy crawlies home. And of course, don’t let summer allergies slow down the excitement of the great outdoors—just keep an eye on your pooch’s symptoms and don’t be afraid to ask your vet questions or try a home remedy!

Does your dog suffer from summer pollen allergies or do you have a best kept secret for flea prevention? Let us know by sharing your summertime solutions for your dog!

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