Do you know what to do if your dog gets dehydrated, has a hot spot or gets fleas?
These and other seasonal dangers like mosquitoes, heat stroke, even changes to appetite can leave you frustrated or worried …
… and your dog could be feeling the effects.
Don’t let the summer heat get you (or your dog) down.
Here are 10 great ways to help your dog beat the heat and stay safe this summer. Check them out!
Summer Safety Tips For Your Dog
1. Keep her cool.
This is common sense, but it’s the most important tip.
Before you set off for a long walk or let your dog run around the back yard, think about the temperature.
Here’s how to keep your dog cool:
- Walk early in the morning or later in the day when it’s cooler.
- Make sure there’s a shady area if she’s outside playing in the yard.
- Remember that her paws aren’t protected from the hot asphalt so choose grassy surfaces if you can. Touch the pavement. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog’s paw pads.
- Keep your house cool. Leave windows open, ceiling fans going or the A/C on.
- Walk with water and let your dog drink as you go. Take frequent breaks to let her cool down. Make sure she has access to cool water when she’s in the yard.
When in doubt, check her out. It’s easy to assume that just because you’re comfortable your dog is too. Most of our dogs can’t handle the heat as well as humans, so just keep an eye out and cut your walk short if her tongue is really hanging out or she’s flagging.
2. Watch out for heat stroke.
When we talk about how to keep your dog cool, there’s a really good reason for it: heat stroke.
Your dog’s normal temperature is between 100° and 103°F. A dog will start to experience heat stroke at 105°F. Any higher and organ damage is a risk.
These are common signs of heat stroke:
- Panting heavily
- Dry or bright red gums
- Thicker drool than normal
- Loss of balance
If you notice these symptoms, move her to a cool place. Wipe her down with a damp rag or drape a cool, damp towel over her body. Pay attention to her inner thighs and stomach where there are more large blood vessels, and the pads of her feet.
Try to get her to drink some cool (not cold) water, but slowly. If she gulps down too much too fast, she may vomit, which won’t help the situation.
Once she’s cool, take her to see your holistic vet for an exam to ensure that there’s no internal damage.[Related: There’s more you can to do help your dog with heat stroke. Find 3 homeopathic remedies here]
3. Keep the fleas away.
Fleas can be a problem all year, but they’re usually worse in the summer.
The problem with most topical flea treatments though is that they’re full of pesticides that can harm your dog. For example, ingredients like imidacloprid have been shown to damage the liver, heart, lungs, spleen, adrenals, brain and gonads. And adverse reactions from pyrethroid spot-ons include brain damage, heart attacks and seizures.
Diatomaceous earth is the ideal natural flea killer. It has tiny razor-sharp edges that dehydrate bugs from the inside out. The sharp edges also shred insects’ insides as well as their exoskeletons. Just be sure to get food grade rather than pool grade (which can be toxic).
- Sprinkle it around your home, leave it for a day, then vacuum it up.
- Spread it outside in your yard wherever your dog spends most of her time.
- You can also sprinkle a small amount onto your pet’s skin, being careful it doesn’t get in her eyes, nose or mouth.
Note: DE can irritate your lungs so make sure you (and your dog) aren’t breathing in the dust. After the dust has settled, DE is safe.[Related: There are a ton of other natural home remedies for fleas. Find them here]
4. Don’t forget about mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes are also an issue. Your dog doesn’t like mosquitoes any more than you do …
… but spraying her with a chemical-based bug spray isn’t the answer.
Instead, feed your dog garlic to make her less attractive to mosquitoes.
Yep, garlic. It’s safe when given in moderation:
- Give ¼ clove of garlic per 10 lbs of body weight.
- If your dog weighs less than 10 lbs, cut a ¼ clove of garlic in half and give ⅛ clove.
- If you have a giant breed, don’t give more than two cloves of garlic per day.
- Peel and chop the garlic about 15 minutes before feeding, then add it to your dog’s food. Always use organic fresh whole clove garlic.
You can also use neem oil. This is an extract from the tropical neem tree. It has insecticidal compounds that naturally repel insects.
Put a drop of neem oil on different places on your dog – on top of her head, behind her ears, on her shoulder blades, along her back and at the base of her tail. You can apply it every day in mosquito season.
BONUS: Neem oil also heals wounds, cuts, sores, poison oak or ivy, and has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties.[Related: We’ve got more natural mosquito repellents. Check them out here]
5. Choose natural first aid.
Whether you’re traipsing through the woods together or splashing around in the waves, accidents happen. Having a first aid kit on hand to treat wounds right away just helps to avoid infection and soothe scrapes or burns.
First, a couple of really good homeopathic remedies to have on hand:
- Arnica: a great first remedy for any injury or trauma.
- Ledum: great for insect bites and stings or puncture wounds
And some herbal remedies:
- Calendula. Antibacterial, anti-fungal. Helps speed up recovery and is a great source of vitamin E & A. Make a salve by adding ¼ teaspoon of salt to one cup of purified water. Add 2040 drops of calendula tincture. Apply with a clean cotton ball two-four times a day.
- Yarrow. Anti-inflammatory, antibacterial. It helps builds new tissue and stops bleeding. Use it to treat bruises, sprains and strains, cuts, bites, burns and stings. Use it as a salve, poultice or tea.
- Witch hazel. Antioxidant and astringent. Helps clear out bacteria and can even help soothe bug bites.
6. Don’t shave your dog.
Some people think that shaving your dog will help keep her cool. This is a myth – one that is dangerous for your dog. Your dog’s coat actually keeps her cool.
It also protects her from the sun. A shaved coat lets the sun through to the skin. This can lead to overheating, sunburn and even skin cancer.
Grooming will benefit a dog with a long or double coat, keeping the mats and tangles to a minimum and letting the cool air in.[Related: Shaving your dog can also ruin her coat. Find out why here]
7. Clear up hot spots and itchy skin.
Many dogs suffer from skin conditions like hot spots and yeast all year round, but often hot weather and humidity can make these conditions worse.
Here are some tips to clear hot spots up:
- Hypericum and calendula tincture diluted in water (HyperCal) is an antibacterial wash for hot spots that works well to clean and relieve the pain. You can find it on Amazon or at your local health food store. If you can’t find HyperCal, just mix equal parts of both.
- Hot spots are usually fairly wet, so use black tea to them dry up. The tannins in black tea can also help stop the infection and help it heal. Steep some tea and let it cool. Use either the tea bag or a cotton ball and hold it to the hot spot for several minutes or longer if your dog doesn’t seem to mind it.
- Use a natural salve to heal and relieve the pain and itch or make your own by blending 5 drops of oil of oregano with 5 tsp of coconut oil. Apply it to the hot spot once a day.
8. Keep her hydrated.
Your dog can’t sweat, so to cool off she pants.
But, if your dog is overheated you’ll see heavier panting and more drooling than usual. She may seem lethargic, with bloodshot eyes. She may even appear a little pale.
To test for dehydration, pinch up some of your dog’s skin … if it bounces right back, she’s fine. If it takes a little bit to go back to normal then there’s some dehydration.
Keep in mind that darker coats absorb more heat than lighter coats. Also, overweight dogs are at higher risk for dehydration.
Make sure your dog always has access to fresh, cool water.
You can also make your own electrolyte water by mixing 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of coconut oil into 1 quart of fresh, clean water. Give this to your dog to replace cell salts and minerals that are important for hydration, blood pH and nerve conduction.
9. Feed for the heat.
You may notice that your dog’s appetite decreases with the heat. If she doesn’t want to eat, don’t make her.
If she isn’t as active, feed to match her activity level. You can even move to once a day feeding a few times a week if the weather is really warm.
You can also skip the warm fatty meats and warming foods to keep the meals lighter.
Here are some foods that have cooling energetics:
10. Keep her clean.
Let’s face it, dogs seem to get way dirtier in the summer. They swim in the lake, they dig in the dirt, they roll around in the grass …
… and then they come in and roll around on the carpet or lounge on the couch.
A bath can not only help get rid of that wet dog smell and clear out the dirt, it can also help any bacteria from building up on your dog’s skin and irritating her. Rising her with clean water or using very gentle shampoo is a good idea. But don’t overdo it. Keep in mind that over-bathing can disturb the balance of your dog’s natural skin bacteria.
And remember that not all dog shampoos are created equal. Look for one that doesn’t contain chemicals that can strip the natural oils from your dog’s skin or coat. Ingredients like aloe and lemongrass can clean and soothe at the same time. Or just use liquid Castile soap which is very gentle.
Now that you know how to keep your dog cool, calm and collected all summer, go enjoy the weather! Keep her safe and happy all season long.