Summer Activities and Travel
As spring warms up into summer, it’s only natural to want to get outside and share some summer fun with your dog. From road trips to swimming to playing at the dog park, the list of possible activities goes on and on.
Keep your buddy safe during your outdoor adventures. Make sure he’s current on his core vaccinations (rabies, distemper, adenovirus, and parvovirus), plus any others your veterinarian might recommend. Fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes love summer, too, so keep these bugs at bay with Bio Spot Active Care™ Flea & Tick Spot On® products. You’ll also need to make sure your pal wears a collar and has proper ID—a microchip or collar tag.
Summer activities can turn into summer nightmares if you don’t observe a few safety precautions. Know your dog’s limits. After a winter of extended naps punctuated by frequent trips to the food bowl, he’s bound to be a bit out of shape. Take it easy at first, gradually increasing the amount and intensity of exercise. Overheating is a real danger, especially in hot, humid weather, or if your dog sports a heavy coat. Schedule outdoor activities for early morning or late evening, if possible. Take along a few bottles of water, especially if you’re going to be gone for a while. And don’t forget to take plenty of “cool-down” breaks in the shade or—even better—in the air conditioning.
On The Road
Road trips can spell summer fun for you and your four-legged friend, as long as he enjoys riding in the car and you take steps to keep him comfortable and safe. Confine your dog in a well-secured crate or carrier while on the road (provide a blanket and a favorite toy so he won’t feel like he’s being punished). If your trip will last more than an hour or two, stop every two hours so he can have a drink of water, stretch his legs, and use the potty. Keep him on his leash whenever he’s out of his carrier.
But remember to never—EVER—leave him in the car by himself, not even for a few minutes! The temperature inside your vehicle can rise almost 20º F in just 10 minutes and the longer you wait, the higher it goes. At 60 minutes, the temperature in your vehicle can be more than 40 degrees higher than the outside temperature. Even on a 70-degree day, that's 110 degrees inside your vehicle! Your vehicle can quickly reach a temperature that puts your pet at risk of serious illness and even death, even on a day that doesn't seem hot to you. Rolling down a window or parking in the shade doesn't guarantee protection either, since temperatures can still climb into the danger zone. And if the window is rolled down sufficiently, the pet can escape.
If you need to stay in a hotel, make reservations at one that allows pets. Don’t try to circumvent the rules of a non-pet-friendly hotel by sneaking your dog into the room. Pack his usual food and feed him on his usual schedule—or as close to it as possible. Unless he’s a model citizen 100 percent of the time, it’s probably best to keep him in his carrier while he’s in the room. Don’t forget to take him outside for potty breaks. And if you’re planning to head out for dinner or some other activity, be aware that some hotels don’t allow unattended dogs in the rooms, even if they’re confined in a carrier.
Water play, hiking, and playing catch are just a few of the summer outdoor activities that you and your canine pal might enjoy.
Wading, splashing, and swimming are great ways for you and your pal to cool off. Before you head for the pool or lake, however, make sure your dog can swim. If you’re not sure of his swimming ability, you can get him a PFD (personal flotation device) made just for dogs. Choose your swim site carefully: regardless of whether it’s a pool, lake, or other body of water, it should have easy access/exit (such as a gently sloping beach or pool entry), no steep drop-offs, and little or no current. No suitable “swimming hole” nearby? Hook up a sprinkler in your backyard and join your dog for a romp in the water!
If you have access to suitable trails, hiking is another outdoor activity you can share with your dog. Nature offers a lot of chase-tempting distractions, such as birds, squirrels, and rabbits, so keep your pal by your side by keeping him on a leash. He’ll be less likely to bother other hikers, too. Protect your dog’s paws by sticking to trails with good footing, such as grass or dirt. Finally, practice moderation—choose trails that suit your dog’s fitness level (and yours) and head for home when you and your furry hiking companion still have enough energy to get there.
Catch some summer fun by playing fetch or Frisbee with your dog. Make sure your pal is up for the game, however—wild twisting turns and leaps are no-nos for older dogs with osteoarthritis, and these aerial acrobatics can also damage the developing joints of dogs younger than one year old. If you’re playing catch with a ball, choose one that’s small enough to be easily snatched by your dog but not so small that he could choke on it.
Some dogs—especially those that are young adults, spayed/neutered, confident, and well-socialized—love dog parks, but others do not. Dog parks aren’t suitable for puppies that haven’t received all of their vaccinations, timid dogs, or aggressive dogs. It also helps if your dog has had enough obedience training that he will at least come when you call. Before you take him to a dog park, visit the park by yourself. Check out the rules. Observe the dogs and watch how they interact with one another. Try to determine the least busy time so you can take your dog then, at least initially.
When you take your buddy to the park, keep him on his leash and walk up to the fence so the other dogs can “greet” him while he’s protected behind the barrier. If everything goes well, take him into the park after a few minutes and unleash him. Watch your pal continually, keeping an eye out for dangerous situations, such as rough play and bullying. If things seem to be getting out of hand, call your dog to you, put his leash on him, and leave the park. The two of you can try again another day.
Bio Spot Active Care is a trademark of Farnam Companies, Inc. Spot On is a registered trademark of Wellmark International.