By John Ostapkovich
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Warmer weather provides more outdoor opportunities, not only for you but your dog, yet not everything is tail-wagging good.
It would be a rare dog that spends no time outside, and for many it’s a joyous affair of sniffing, exploring and, yes, lightening the load. But there are dangers….
“Anytime a dog is outdoors, there’s always the chance of something happening,” warns Jack Trautenberg, General Manager of Fetch! Pet Care.
Fetch! Pet Care serves the Main Line with dog-walking and pet-sitting, among lots more. The firm is out with a list of seven safety tips, number one being watch the sun exposure; dogs, especially those with short or white fur, can get sunburned.
“As a preventative, you just apply a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher, to the tips of the ears, the bridge of the nose and other sensitive areas,” Trautenberg says.
He says sunburns can lead to solar dermatitis or even skin cancer.
Other issues include avoiding over-heating or dehydration, fleas and ticks, munching on certain plants and encounters with dogs and other animals. Check out the complete list below.
7 Safety Tips for Active Outdoor Dogs
With the long days of spring and summer ahead of us, now is the perfect time for your dog to enjoy the great outdoors. Taking some precautionary steps will help ensure you make the best of your dog’s outings. Here are 7 tips from the experts at Fetch! Pet Care:
Sun: Believe it or not, dogs can get sunburned. Dogs with short or predominantly white fur are especially at risk of becoming sunburned and can become at risk for solar dermatitis or even skin cancer. As a preventative, apply a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher which doesn’t contain PABA to the tips of the ears, bridge of the nose, groin area, underbelly, and other places with thinner fur or exposed skin.
Heat: Just as you can protect your pets from sunburn, you can also keep them safe from heat stroke and other heat related problems by bringing them indoors or at least providing a shaded area in the yard. Also, offer plenty of clean water. The rule of thumb is one ounce of water daily for each pound of body weight. But this number increases when your dog is especially active or spends time in increased temperatures. Also, when walking, dogs often have so much fun they forget to take a break and can become overly hot and thirsty, so remember to carry a portable water bowl for summer outings and offer it your pet frequently.
Plants: Dogs are susceptible to plant-based irritants just as people are. When enjoying the great outdoors with your canine companion, be mindful of your surroundings, taking note of the different species of plants in the area. Discourage your dog from “grazing” along the trail’s edge, as many plants are toxic and can cause a wide range of problems from gastrointestinal disturbances to depression of the central nervous system.
Fleas & Ticks: Fleas and ticks are not only an uncomfortable nuisance, they can cause medical problems ranging from flea-allergy dermatitis to Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever; all of which can be contracted by humans as well. For the comfort of all involved, talk to your vet about an appropriate flea and tick prevention program and be sure to examine your pet often, especially after hiking in wooded areas where ticks are common.
Critters: Dogs will be dogs and will do what dogs do! This often includes running gleefully after small, fast-moving critters such as squirrels, raccoons, gophers, skunks and other such critters. When off-leash, dogs can quickly find themselves out of range of worried owners, and many dogs have become lost or even hit by cars and killed this way. Keep in mind that many rodents and other small animals, while tiny, can put up a big fight with sharp teeth, claws and toxic stink-bombing technology (skunks!), so it’s best to prevent actual close-encounters whenever possible.
Nutrition: Just like active humans, active dogs will burn a lot of calories and energy when outdoors. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian to design the perfect diet for your active pet to match the requirements of their daily exercise routine.
Other Dogs & Unforeseen Situations: While you may not be able to avoid all the dangers, there are some basic commands that all dogs should know that will assist you with the prevention of potential problems. Make sure your dog has a good understanding of and is reliable with the commands “Leave it”, “Drop it”, “Come”, and “Stay”. These commands can be particularly useful in keeping your dog away from dead animals or feces, or avoiding a harsh interaction with another dog, human or another surprise animal.