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28 Safety Tips to Keep Your Dog in Top Shape This Summer

You know not to leave him in the car while you run to the bank—but do you know how to quickly check for dehydration?


Remember this hydration test

To quickly test your dog’s hydration, pull up the skin around her neck. “It should snap back down,” says Nicole Ellis, pet lifestyle expert at “But if the dog is dehydrated, it’ll go down very slowly.” Try it on a temperate day at home so you have a reference point. Not sure you're getting enough H2O yourself? Here's how to stay hydrated.


Keep a visual reference

Two common signs of heat exhaustion in dogs are pale gums and a bright pink tongue. In order to to check these symptoms quickly, Ellis recommends taking a photo of them on an average day and keeping the shot on your phone. That way you'll have something to refer back to if your suspect something is off. This is how to know your dog absolutely trusts you.


Know the signs of heat exhaustion

If you’re feeling hot on a steamy summer day, you can bet your dog feels just as warm. “Dogs are good at hiding their critical nature,” says Ellis, “which means if there’s any question he’s suffering from heat stroke, it’s best to see your vet.” That said, there are warning signs. In addition to pale gums and a bright pink tongue, listen for rapid, loud, or heavy panting. A disoriented wobbly walk, weakness and fatigue, vomiting, and bloody stool could also indicate something is awry. These are the 50 things your veterinarian wishes you knew.


Bring your dog’s temperature down like this

To cool your dog in a non-emergency situation, add ice to her water and wet her chest and the pads of her feet. Some tricks work for humans as well—these hacks will help you cool off on a hot day.


Know your dog breed

Summer safety is important for all dogs, but some have a harder time regulating their body temperature than others. Breeds with squished-in faces, such as bulldogs, as well as ones with throat problems, such as Yorkshire terriers and Labradors, have a harder time regulating their heat.


Beware hot asphalt

“If you can’t hold the back of your hand to the asphalt for five seconds, it’s too hot for your dog to walk on,” says Ellis. Those temps are no joke: On an 85-degree day, the asphalt can get up to 135—and your dog’s paws can be burned in under 60 seconds. If crossing hot ground is unavoidable, carry your dog or look into purchasing booties for her.


Check her paws

If you notice your dog limping or licking his paws after a day in the sun, it’s possible he’s burned his paw pads. Check them for redness, blisters, and cracks, and head to your vet if anything looks amiss. “Many times, we will bandage the feet and start antibiotics,” Dr. M. Duffy Jones, DVM, of Peachtree Hills Animal Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, told PetMD. “Paw pad burns can get infected quickly and make things much worse. Sometimes we can suture the pad back on if there is some left.”


No sniffing for snakes

Hiking with your dog is tons of fun, but it’s important to remember he’s not the only animal on the trail. In many regions, snakes are an issue. “Often these critters will hide out in holes,” says Ellis, “and you don’t want your dog putting their nose in there.” Ellis recommends keeping your dog on-leash so she’s less able to sniff out the local wildlife. Additionally, if you hear your dog scream while you’re not looking, check his body for bites. “It could be something that happens very quickly,” says Ellis.


Be mindful of hot sand

Every beachgoer knows exactly how hot the sand can get on a steamy day. “People always run to the cooler sand where the water is hitting,” says Ellis, “and dogs want to be there too.” Carry your dog to the more hospitable sand or think ahead by outfitting him with booties. And don’t forget to bring a beach towel for your dog as well—that way he won’t be hitting the hot sand all day long.


Invest in a life jacket

Ellis, who frequently goes paddle boarding and kayaking with her dog, knows how much fun beach activities can be. But she also stressed the importance of safety—and when it comes to the water, that means outfitting your dog with a personal floatation device. “Even if they’re just playing the waves, they can be taken out pretty easily,” she says. “A life jacket will bring them up quickly.”

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