We are happy to bring you a great guest post today, just in time for the holiday weekend. Thanks Mike!
I’ve never been more nervous than I was the first time I walked Trevor around his Orange Country neighborhood. The big Golden obviously wasn’t going to make it easy for me. Apparently he liked to assert his dominance every chance he could, which meant growling and barking at every other dog he saw on the street.
My brother suffered from some pretty bad allergies while we were growing up, so a dog was never an option for my family. When my aunt and uncle asked my fiancé and me if we’d watch Trevor for the weekend while they were out of town, I jumped at the chance. I’d always wanted a dog, and we had talked about adopting one for a while. This was a great chance to get a feel for what caring for a dog is really like. It soon dawned on me though – I didn’t know a thing! To make matters worse, it was the middle of the summer here in Orange County, CA. That meant temperatures regularly crossing into the mid-90’s. Not only had I never cared for a dog, but I’d never even thought of the differences in tactics and approach needed during the summer months.
After taking the time to read up on proper pet care and soliciting advice and tips from my dog-loving friends, I slowly began to feel comfortable taking care of Trevor as the long weekend progressed. By the end of it, I was sad to give the big guy back to my aunt and uncle. I was truly starting to enjoy spending time with the big fuzzy thing.
I’ve pet-sat many times since then for a variety of different dogs, cats, fish and really anything else that needed to be fed. I also had a few more chances to spend more quality time with Trevor! But I’ve never forgotten some of the important tips I learned that first month – especially in regards to keeping your pet safe from the hot summer sun. Below are some of the most important tips I learned about proper summer pet care, all of which I still follow today.
Protect them from the sun. Personally, I know I can’t spend more than five minutes outside without a thick layer of sunscreen to protect my pale Irish skin. It was surprising to learn that many pets need a similar treatment. If you pet has short hair, white fur or pink skin, they may need additional protection when out in the sun over the summer months. Try to limit their exposure to direct sunlight during the day to deter sun damage. While shaving your pet may seem like a good idea to keep them cool, it can also make them more vulnerable to sun damage. Talk to your vet about the best type of sunscreen or any other sun protection for your pet.
Be careful near gardens and garages. It’s typically a good idea to limit your pet’s access to gardens and garages over the summer months due to the various toxic substances found there. Fertilizer and other garden chemicals can be hazardous to your pet’s health – even deadly. The same goes for anti-freeze, which can leak from cars during summer months. Pets – especially dogs – are drawn to it, but it’s pure poison for them.
Practice pool safety. Summer is a time for pools, and while that’s great for us, it can be dangerous for most pets. Many pets can’t swim, and those that can are often unable to exit a pool that has high sides. Keep an eye on your pet when near a pool or other large body of water. If you have your own pool, it’s probably a good idea to train your pet to escape using the stairs in event of a fall. Make sure they don’t drink the heavily chemical-infused water either.
Take frequent, shorter walks. Rather than one long walk every day, take your pet on several shorter walks on hot days. This allows them to still get the proper exercise they need while also making sure they don’t overheat in the sun. Overexertion is one of the biggest causes f heat-related illnesses in pets. Shorter, more frequent walks will help prevent this, and can also help to keep you fresh as well. If possible, try to time your walks for early morning or evening hours when the sun is less intense.
Be aware in crowded areas. While it might seem fun and harmless at first, it is usually not a good idea to take your pet with you to a crowded summer party or event. This can include concerts, Fourth of July parties and fireworks shows. Loud noises and stress associated with the large crowds can be dangerous for your pets when combined with the summer heat. If you do take your pets with you, keep an eye on them and make sure they are tagged and leashed at all times.
Mike Tennant is a freelance writer and columnist from Orange County, CA. Mike currently works with Air and Water Inc. and strives to help consumers find the best evaporative coolers for their needs – and sometimes for their dogs’ needs too!