Keeping Your Small Dog Healthy and Happy This Summer
Small dogs love the summer months. Dachshunds are sun worshippers, spaniels take to doggy-paddling pools like Olympic swimmers, and terriers are happiest when the heat is high and there’s no cloud in the sky.
However, small dogs don’t understand that too much of a good thing can be bad for them. Pint-sized pooches are apt to get sunburn or heatstroke, and water-loving breeds always seem to find the dirtiest, most bacteria-ridden puddles to splash around in.
As an owner of a small dog, it’s your job to ensure that your little buddy stays happy and healthy this summer.
Your dog might love the hot summer days, but sometimes the temperature is simply too high and poses a health risk to your canine companion.
Unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast rule regarding temperature and your dog’s health. All dogs deal with heat differently, as short-haired breeds like beagles are happy in the heat, whereas fluffy Pomeranians will struggle to regulate their body temperature.
Prevention is the key to protecting your dog’s health in the summer. Simple steps like carrying your small dog over pavement and concrete will save their paws from becoming burnt, and keeping them during the hottest part of the day is simply common sense.
You should also learn to recognize the signs of sunburn and heatstroke in your little buddy. Excessive panting, lethargy, drooling, and confusion are all signs that your pooch is too hot and needs to be taken to a cool, shady spot with plenty of water.
Water is you and your dog’s best friend during the hot summer months. Just like humans, some dogs love to take a dip or go for a swim to bring down their body temperature while having fun outside. However, not all bodies of water are right for your dog, and you need to plan ahead to ensure they stay healthy and happy.
If your dog isn’t a natural-born swimmer, a doggy-paddling pool is probably right for them. Fill the water up to a depth where they can still reach the floor with all four paws, and make sure they have an easy access point to get in and out of the pool.
You should take extra precautions if your dog loves jumping in the swimming pool. They can easily mistake the pool cover for water and may jump in unattended to cool off. To avoid this, you should install appropriate fencing around your pool so they don’t fall (or jump!) in unattended.
Wildlife and insects are hyperactive during the warm summer months. This is great if you cherish biodiversity and love seeing deer walk through your neighborhood, but it’s less great for your canine companion who may be prone to bug bites from pests.
You can pest-proof your home during the summer by checking out those hard-to-reach areas that your dog loves to explore. Small openings like the space beneath your couch or around your doorways are loved by your pooch and pests alike, so be sure to get in there for regular cleaning and seal any openings that might be a summertime bug highway.
You should also keep your small dog well-groomed during the summer. Regularly bathing your dog keeps them from smelling like old nachos and ensures that any pests they picked up are washed off before they do too much damage. A quick brush can also help you spot ticks and other bugs.
The same rule also applies to yourself. You may also track in harmful pests and bacteria, so you need to wash your shoes properly using soap and water. Keep the shoes you use for outdoor activities in a space your dog isn’t able to explore, as even the deepest of cleans may still leave a few pests and bugs on your feet.
When you first got a small dog, you probably had summertime activities like hiking and trips to the dog park in mind. These trips to local nature reserves and fields are great for your mental health, and your dog will almost certainly love playing and exploring the great outdoors.
If it’s your first summer together with your small dog, then you might be surprised by how much work goes into a day out together.
You’ve got to make sure that you have a plan of where to go and enough supplies to keep you both happy and healthy. This should include plenty of water, a few snacks, and the right gear to get you from A to B.
You should also resist the temptation to go on hours-long walks with a small dog. As well as posing a heat stroke risk, small dogs are prone to developing arthritis in later life if they are walked too far too often. Instead, you can get moving with your small dog by building a backyard obstacle course and limiting your walks to two or three 15-minute hikes a day.
Everyone is happier during the long, warm summer days — your pooch included. However, your dog doesn’t know about things like heat stroke and can easily pick up unwanted critters and pests. As the owner, it’s up to you to keep them safe during the warm months by keeping them clean, well-hydrated, and out of the sun for lengthy periods of the day.
Frankie Wallace is a frequent contributor to Small Dog Place. She is a freelance writer from Boise, ID. If her spirit animal could be anything, it would be a beagle--inquisitive, and always searching for food.
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