By Vivianna Shields
The sun is cooking the asphalt to a torrid 135 degrees. Fleas are thriving as they jump from host to host. Rattlesnakes are beginning to slither at our feet.
These are all dangers that dog owners should be aware of this summer.
Your dog does not have to suffer this summer, they could thrive!
Walking a dog in the summer months may seem harmless, but there are dangers.
When dogs go on walks, the pavement may not seem hot initially, but in time it can heat up causing injury to paws.
According to data collected by The Journal of the American Medical Association, temperatures as low as 77 degrees can heat asphalt to a scorching 125 degrees. Once the asphalt reaches this temperature, skin destruction on the dog’s paws can begin to happen in less than one minute.
“While a dog’s paws are nowhere near as sensitive as a human bare foot, they could be injured by extremely hot pavement,” said Holin Lederer, Practice Manager at the Santa Clarita Animal Hospital. “You know your dog, if he/she is “dancing” from paw to paw, or is seeking water to walk in (not just for a drink) then it is definitely too hot for your pet.”
If you pay close attention to your dog’s movements, you will be able to determine if the paws are being burnt or not.
Though the pavement may not burn your dog’s paws, it also has the ability to increase your dog’s body temperature. This could lead to overheating.
“To avoid the heat, I spend quality time with my dogs inside, teaching them tricks and what not,” said College of the Canyons student Bellet Sarhad. “Building a bond with your dog is just as important as getting exercise with your dog.”
It is best to reserve dog walks for the early morning or later afternoon to avoid the heat’s peak which is around 3p.m..
Summer walks during the day can be achieved if you ensure that your pet has a cool place to rest and fresh water is always accessible. Be careful to not over-exercise them.
If you think it is hot, it is even hotter for your pet.
“I take my dogs to the park in the evening when it’s cooler, said Sarhad. “Always making sure that there is water in their bowls.”
Hydration is one of the most important things to remember this summer for you and your pet.
“If you have an outdoor dog, or leave your dog outside unattended during the day, make sure they have a plentiful supply of cool water and a shady place to relax,” said Lederer.
Monitor your dog’s water intake by making sure they have at at least one ounce of water for each pound of bodyweight daily.
If you suspect that your dog may be dehydrated, take them to a veterinarian immediately. You may be able to detect dehydration at home by lifting the skin on the back of their neck and if you let go and it does not return immediately, that may be a sign of dehydration. Results may be inconclusive, so it is best to go to your veterinarian.
Other signs include dry gums and excessive drooling.
Switching to wet dog food during the summer is a good way to increase your dog’s fluid intake if you are worried that they are not getting enough.
“Make sure that they always have water available, said College of the Canyons student Alverti Bardakjian. “Try to keep them inside with the air conditioning.”
Following these steps can help prevent other issues such as a heat stroke and overheating.
Do not leave your dog in the car for any amount of time for it is likely that they will suffer from a heat stroke. It is illegal to leave a dog unattended in a car in California under California Penal Code Section 597.7 PC..
If you come across a dog left in a car, call Animal Control and monitor the dog until they arrive to the scene.
It is imperative to be observant. When you are outdoors, it is crucial to be aware of your dog’s surroundings.
“Be sure to clear areas in front of [your dog] and walk in front and keep the leash tight and short to attain security,” said Central Park regular Carolina Romero. “Always keep away from the bushes.”
By remaining circumspect of your surroundings, you can ensure safety not only for you, but your dog.
Rattlesnakes inhabit most of the dry hills in Santa Clarita. In Central Park, they slither in the hills surrounding the park.
Dogs are 20 times more likely to be bitten by venomous snakes compared to people and are about 25 times more likely to die if bitten, according to the Animal Medical Center of Southern California.
Many facilities offer rattlesnake vaccines that will produce antibodies that will work against the venom of a rattlesnake; however, dogs will still need treatment for the bite.
“Installing chicken wire over my backyard fence has kept snakes out of my backyard,” said Bardakjian. “We have not have had an issue with one snake so I guess it worked.”
Other risks such as fleas and ticks live in bushes as they try to find their next host.
They can also be avoided with the proper preventative medication. The Santa Clarita Animal Hospital has a wide variety of flea and tick preventatives.
“These medications are taken year round and prevent infestations,” said Lederer. “Some preventatives have the added benefit of repelling mosquitoes and flies, as well as preventing internal parasite infestations.”
Try to avoid adventuring through dense shrubs with your animal for they will be more susceptible to being bit by a flea or tick.
Before the summer begins, it is important to get an annual check up for your dog to detect any health concerns that may be plaguing your dog.