By Arden Moore
Living in South Florida gives true meaning to the dog days of summer. Just ask Susan Baker, of Lake Worth, who must set her alarm clock pre-sunrise just to ensure her two poodles can get in a morning walk before
turning into hot dogs.
“I grab their leashes and we’re out the door by 6 because by 7, the pavement is too hot for their paws,” says Baker, a magazine editor who shares her home with a pair of rescued 15-pound white poodles named Cubby and
Lido. “We wait until after 7 at night for our evening walk.”
Just like us, our pets can be at risk for sunburns and dehydration. The hot, humid temperatures and steady rains also combine to pump up the pest population, namely fleas and ticks. And let’s not forget
hard-to-heal hot spots and or the sheer panic unleashed in some dogs due to
thunderstorms and fireworks.
Let me offer some tips and suggested items that can temper what the high temperatures bring. For starters, make sure that your dog – and cat – receive a summer checkup at your veterinary clinic and receive the
appropriate monthly medicines and vaccines to combat diseases and skin conditions
associated with fleas, ticks and mosquitoes. It may surprise you to learn that
even indoor cats can become infected with heartworm disease caused by being bitten
by an infected mosquito buzzing inside your home.
Patrol your premises and keep rid of any buckets with stagnant water and clear your foliage to foil a colony of ticks from taking residence. If you have an outdoor spigot in your enclosed backyard, opt for
going high-tech when it comes to providing your dog with cool water. Forego the
bowl of water that can get too hot or filled with bugs. Instead, consider using
the WaterDog Fountain – it features a sensor that releases a stream of water
from your faucet when your dog comes into view. It shuts off when your dog
Before taking your dog out on a walk, take the palm test. Place your palm on the sidewalk or pavement. If it feels too hot or uncomfortable to your hand, it is too hot for your dog. Like Baker, time your
walks in the early morning or later evening hours. Also, select a route that
includes shade or grassy areas. If your dog will tolerate them, consider
fitting them with special canine booties that provide a layer of protection
from the hot turf.
Keep your dog cool by not over exercising him during hot weather. Dogs perspire through their paws. If your dog shows signs of overheating (excessive panting, stumbling or drooling), cool their body core
down by carefully putting their paws in cool water.
In your quest to find a safe place for your dog to make a splash, avoid water that is stagnant or that has algae on it. Never let your dogs swim in small ponds constructed to drain water from housing developments.
They contain a lot of chemicals, such as those used to treat lawns. And,
another doggy water no-no: ponds at golf courses. If you take a microscopic
look at what lives in these ponds, you will see a plethora of disease-carrying
Florida ranks as the lightning capitol of the country and thunderstorms can unleash pure panic in some dogs. Desperate to find a safe haven, they can injure themselves chewing through drywall, crashing through
windows or dashing out of the house and getting hit by vehicles. Work with your
veterinarian on the appropriate anti-anxiety medication, but also take behavior
modification steps to work on helping your dog overcome these phobias.
There’s a new product called the Thundershirt that you can fit on your dog and it helps ally some of these storm fears. It has been endorsed by Linda Tellington Jones, PhD, the founder of the TTouch therapy
method that works on horses, dogs and other animals.
Finally, be prepared and be safe. Contact your local American Red Cross to enroll in a pet first-aid class. Invest in a pet first-aid kit and be sure to include a Trimline Veterinary Recovery Collar.
This flexible, blue collar is far better than those rigid, hard-to-maneuver
plastic Elizabethan collars when your pet recovers from surgery or injury and
needs not to bite or paw healing wounds or sutures. The Trimline allows pets to
eat, sleep, drink and play without a fuss. The company has sold more than 2
million and is based in Boca Raton.
Summer time in South Florida truly can go to the dogs – and cats – if you just time your walks, get your pet up-to-date on his medical needs and have the right tools to combat pests. Enjoy!
Arden Moore, Founder of Four Legged Life.com, is an animal behavior consultant, editor, author and professional speaker. She happily shares her home with two dogs, two cats and
one overworked vacuum cleaner. Tune in to her “Oh Behave!” show on Pet Life
Radio.com and learn more by visiting www.fourleggedlife.com