If you love fresh air, how the earth smells after it rains and the sound of wind whistling in the trees, you might be a lover of the outdoors. Chances are, your dog is, too! But, this quality time outside requires a slightly different approach to safety, so we’ve assembled these tips for you to keep in mind. Read through them before you bring your pet outside so you’re prepared for a great summer season.
1. How to Remove Ticks
If you spend lots of time outdoors with your pet, a tick check should be part of your everyday routine. Here’s how to check for ticks and remove them:
- Step 1: Start by scanning your dog’s body for ticks by moving your fingers over her body. If there’s a bump or swollen area, look closely to see if a tick has latched on. Check between your dog’s toes, under their armpits, around and inside their ears and on their face.
- Step 2: If you find something, determine if it’s a tick. They can be black, brown or tan and they have eight legs. Their size can vary—some ticks are as small as the head of a pin and others are as large as a pencil eraser.
- Step 3: Next is removal. Put on clean gloves and grasp the tick as close to your dog’s skin as possible without accidentally pinching your pet’s skin. Use tweezers to pull it out in a straight, steady motion. Wash your hands and clean your dog’s wound with antiseptic. Clean your tweezers with isopropyl alcohol.
- Step 4: Last, keep an eye on your pet for any tick-borne illnesses. Symptoms may include reluctance to move, swollen joints and more. If you notice these symptoms, talk to your vet right away.
2. How to Prevent Fleas
Have you noticed a flea circus in your home? Warm weather can sometimes bring fleas out and about. Fleas have flat, brownish-black bodies and are very small, about 1/16-1/8 inches in diameter.
You know your pet has fleas if:
- You notice fleas jumping on your pet
- You comb your dog with a flea comb and fleas visibly come out of your dog’s coat
Double check your brushing technique by placing a white sheet of paper below your dog while you brush. Flea dirt (flea feces) will fall onto the paper. Drop a little water onto the dirt spots, and if they turn a dark reddish-brown, you’ve got a circus!
But, whether you’ve seen fleas on your dog or not, if you spend a lot of time outside, it’s a great idea to talk to your vet about flea treatment and prevention. They know the ins and outs of what’s best for your pet, and may prescribe a topical gel, an oral pill or even a flea collar. While you’re talking to your vet, ask them about tick prevention as well.
3. Plants to Avoid
Dogs love to explore, and often that exploration ends in something new to … chew. When you’re out in the woods or even in a friend’s backyard, it’s important to supervise your pet and keep them from chewing on any plants.
If your pet has ingested something they shouldn’t have, get in contact with your vet and tell them about the plant’s appearance and the quantity your pet ate. If you can snap a picture of the plant they were chewing on, that’s helpful, too.
Toxic plants for dogs include castor oil plants, hemlock, English ivy, mistletoe, oleander, thorn apple, yew and mysterious mushrooms. Check out a more complete list here.
4. Keep an Eye on the Weather
We know you want to be outdoors with your dog rain or shine, all seasons of the year, but here are a few considerations before getting out there with your four-legged friend.
- Temperature: Our experts say if it’s hot enough for you to feel that you should be wearing a tank top, it’s likely too hot to be doing strenuous activity outside with your dog. Another test is to put your palm on the blacktop or ground—if it is too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your pet’s paws. On the flip side, if it’s below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, limit their outdoor activity and keep a close eye on your dog for signs that they’re too cold.
- Sun exposure: Did you know? Dogs can get sunburned just like people! When it’s sunny outside, make sure to apply pet sunscreen (not your human sunscreen) every 3-4 hours to their least-furry spots: belly, ears and nose.
- Water: When you’re near the water or on a boat with your dog, put them in a life vest. That way, if they see something intriguing and jump in, they will be safe until you can get to them. Get the right size life vest and make sure your dog can swim before bringing them around water without a leash.
- Hydration: This is especially important when it’s hot outside and when your dog is being active. Provide them with access to shade, chances for breaks from activity and lots of cool, fresh water.