All About Summer Fun

Golden Retriever retrieves a beach stick

Summer time is such a delightful time to raise a puppy! The children are out of school and there is so much time for the whole family to enjoy raising the puppy. It is a great time to enjoy including your new puppy in lots of summer fun! In this article I encourage you to think about keeping your puppy safe whether you are hiking, camping, swimming, or enjoying a cookout in your back yard.

I recently had the opportunity to interview my brother, Earl M.

Jones, Jr. D.V.M. the owner of Cahaba Mountain Brook Animal Clinic about summer activities with your puppy. We discussed the various activities that people include their puppy in during the summer and what puppy owners need to know about potentially dangerous situations that can occur.

Signs of Heat Exhaustion In Your Puppy

I asked Dr. Jones about a common summer issue called heat exhaustion, also known as heat stroke. I had hoped that he would give me a specific temperature to be concerned about, but he told me that there are too many factors involved to isolate a specific temperature. He said that it is very important to make sure that your puppy has the ability to remove herself from direct sunlight. He reminded me that since pups don’t sweat, they dissipate heat by panting. This means that brachycephalic pups like Pugs, Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers are most susceptible to heat exhaustion.

He also said that dark colored pups need to be watched closely as the dark color might increase heat absorption. At this point, any puppy regardless of breed or color is at risk for heat exhaustion. He said that it is very important to make sure that your puppy has shade, fresh cool water, and close supervision when the humidity is high and the sun is out in full force.

Your puppy can get in trouble quicker than you think, so it is important to recognize the signs of heat exhaustion.

Increased and excessive panting is the first sign of trouble. If you see this, Dr. Jones recommends that you remove your puppy to an air-conditioned room. If your puppy continues to ‘overheat’ she will develop neurological signs. These include: appearing disoriented, collapsing, or fainting.  He recommends that you attempt to bring your pup’s body temperature down. Try removing her from the sun, getting her in front of air conditioning if possible, placing her in cold water and/or using ice cubes to help her temperature come down. There is no emergency drug to help this issue. Take your puppy to a veterinarian as soon as possible!

Be Cautious of Your Puppy's Paws on Hot Pavement

Dr. Jones suggests that while taking your puppy for a walk is always fun, that you be aware of the temperature of the pavement. A good, but not scientific, way to test the heat of pavement is to place the palm of your hand on the pavement. If you can’t keep your hand on the pavement, then it is too hot for your puppy! Remember that the pads of your puppy's paws are very sensitive. Please ask your veterinarian for ointments to use in advance so that you can have them in your pup’s first aid kit.

Leaving Your Puppy In Your Car

Dr. Jones urges you to not leave your puppy unattended in a vehicle. The internal temperature of the vehicle rises faster then you think it will! I asked him if it is alright to leave your puppy in a running vehicle with the air conditioner on. His response is to use common sense. If you are running in to the convenience store and your car is in your sight, then it is probably fine. However, if you can’t see your vehicle then you have no real idea how safe your puppy is! He did mention that anyone could open your car and drive off with your puppy! He and I agreed that this issue was outside the scope of this article. A good rule of thumb is that if you would not leave a child in the vehicle then think twice before you choose to leave your puppy!

Taking Your Puppy Swimming

Our next topic of discussion is swimming.

If you enjoy swimming whether in a pool, river, creek or lake the chances are good that you want your puppy to enjoy it too! First, let’s discuss swimming pools. Dr. Jones points out that even the best swimming pup can drown in a swimming pool. He says that is the puppy can’t locate the way out she might over-exert herself swimming from side to side looking for the exit until she panics and exhausts herself. While he was talking about this, I remembered a time that I almost drowned in three feet of water! I was taking scuba diving lessons in an indoor pool. I am a good swimmer, but the pressure of trying to take a scuba regulator out of my mouth and put it back on caused me to panic. I have no doubt that if I had not an instructor watching me I would have drowned. The point of my story is please don’t assume that just because your puppy can swim well that she is safe unattended in a swimming pool!

Lakes, rivers and streams are great fun but have their own hidden perils for our puppies. My brother and I take our pups to a lake that is fifty feet deep off of the end of our boat dock. My pups wear life jackets at the lake. They are Golden Retrievers and very good swimmers. In keeping with our advice on leaving your puppy in an air-conditioned car- if you wouldn’t do it with your child don’t do it with your puppy! We require everyone regardless of swim skill level to have a personal flotation device at our lake house in the water. My pups have learned to trust their float jackets and do not even try to move their paws when they are floating with us! Please be sure that your puppy knows where to get out of the water she is swimming in. This could be a boat dock ladder, a shore on the side of the river or stepping stones leading out of a creek. Please do not assume that she knows just because you do!

Taking Your Dog Fishing

Does your family enjoy fishing?  Remember that active, curious pups can easily get in the way of a stray fishhook! Dr. Jones reminds you that fish hooks have a barb on the end.

It is unwise to try to pull the hook out of your puppy! He recommends that you seek veterinary help to remove the hook. He does say that if you can’t get your puppy to a veterinarian, then you can cut the barb off and remove the hook. We hope that you have been following our training program and have helped your puppy to accept handling and gentle restraint before attempting to do this! Another common injury to your pup is a splinter in her the pads of her paw. If you can’t remove the splinter, then you should seek veterinary help.

Snake Bites & Puppy First Aid Kits

Along with water fun comes the various critters that also enjoy the summertime fun and water! Please remember that your puppy is curious by nature. Snakes attract curious pups!  Dr. Jones recommends that you always treat snake bites as an emergency situation. The closer the bite is to a vital organ, the more serious the situation is. In other words, a snakebite to the paw is not as dangerous to a bite to the throat that can cause swelling to obstruct breathing. Remember that all snake bites require immediate veterinary attention! Dr. Jones suggests that you ask your veterinarian about the new snake bite vaccine. The effectiveness of this vaccine will depend upon the snakes prevalent in your area. Insect stings are another consideration. Dr. Jones advises you to have your puppy first aid kit with you! He also advised you to check with your veterinarian for the proper Benadryl dose for your puppy in case she reacts to an insect sting. He further advises you to ask your veterinarian about the use of Neosporin and antibiotic creams for the treatment of minor injuries.

Keep Your Puppy Up To Date On Flea And Tick Prevention

Summertime brings an increase in both internal and external parasites to your puppy. Internal parasites, according to Dr. Jones, include round worms, hook worms, tape worms, and whip worms. Some of these parasites are zoonotic meaning they can transfer from your puppy to you. Dr. Jones reminds you to have your puppy routinely checked for internal parasites and dewormed as needed. As fleas and ticks are also prevalent in warm weather, it is important for your puppy to be on a tick and flea preventative. There are a number of these available and Dr. Jones suggests the you ask your veterinarian for the best product for your area of the country.

Micro-Chip Your Puppy

Dr. Jones suggests that you have your puppy micro chipped. As summer time increases both your family’s and puppy’s outdoor activity the opportunity for your puppy getting lost also increases. A microchip greatly increases the probability that your puppy will be returned to you. The presence of a microchip also increases the likelihood that a veterinarian will accept your puppy for treatment for treatment as the chip means the pup has an owner. Another advantage of microchipping your puppy is that institutions that use pups for experimental medicine will not accept pups with a microchip. Please remember that while your veterinarian places the microchip in your puppy it is your responsibility to register the chip in your name.

We encourage you to enjoy your summer and include your puppy every chance you get! My brother, Dr. Jones and I are only pointing out potential pitfalls and hopefully giving you ways to protect your precious puppy until you can get her to veterinary help! Please remember that wherever you take your pup to think ahead and know the name, number, and address of the closest veterinarian to where you are going!