Summer Dog Care for New Dog Owners

dog care in summerTo a new dog owner, dog care can seem fairly straight forward. Dogs need food, shelter, love, exercise and medical care. What many new dog owners don’t realize is that dog care changes as the seasons change. Although the basics of dog care remain the same, the details can change throughout the year.

As spring turns to summer, new dog owners have a responsibility to learn about the nuances of summer dog care. These tips can help.

Provide Shelter

Dog owners who keep their dogs outdoors throughout the day or for any extended period of time must provide shade and a cool place to rest. Without protection from the heat, dogs can suffer from heat exhaustion or sun stroke. Since the sun moves throughout the day, the best dog house are those with a north-facing entrance and shade on the south and western sides.

A good shelter will also provide water, food and a soft bed. Some homeowners like to provide their dogs with a bed of hay instead of blankets, because hay is relatively cool and easy to replace. Whatever shelter is provided, it is imperative that pet owners check on their dog’s shelter on a regular basis to ensure that it remains cool, dry and safe for their pet.

Exercise When It’s Cool

Dogs need exercise on a regular basis, either at home or in a neighborhood dog park. However, exercising on a hot summer afternoon can be dangerous. Exercising at cool times of the day is best. In hot regions, exercising in the early morning or at dusk is much safer than midday exercise. Dog owners who want to exercise their dogs midday may need to do this inside a climate controlled building.

Keep the Air On

Many dog owners must leave their dogs alone during the week while they’re at work. Some like to save money on their cooling expenses by turning off the air conditioner during the day. This can create dangerously hot conditions for a dog left inside. For safety’s sake, dog owners who leave during the day should leave their air conditioner running (even if at a higher temperature), rather than turning off the air conditioner entirely.

Provide Lots of Drinking Water

Dogs can drink a lot of water on a hot summer day. It’s up to the dog owner to provide adequate water in a stable container. Some dogs make a big mess while they drink. For these dogs, it’s important to provide a large, spill-proof container. Some dogs even need two containers in order to get adequate water. For new dog owners, it’s important to remember that it’s always better to provide extra water than not enough. For dog owners who are just getting to know their dog’s water needs, leave out multiple bowls (especially if the dog is left in a warm home or a warm yard).

Protect Your Pet’s Paws

Hot pavement can burn a dog’s paws. Dog owners who go anywhere with their dog in the heat of the day run the risk of injuring their dog. New dog owners must be cognizant of this problem until they know for sure how much heat their dog’s paws can comfortably withstand. Parking close to building entrances can help protect dogs from an uncomfortable or painful situation.

Know the Signs of Overheating

Dogs experiencing heat-related illness may have pale gums, rapid heartbeat, weakness, confusion, vomiting and diarrhea. If your dog experiences any of these symptoms, contact your pet’s veterinarian as soon as possible. Your dog may need medical attention.