Enjoying the great outdoors with your family and pets is a must-do this time of year. To keep everyone happy and healthy, including Fido, we’ve compiled some summer pet health hazards and ways to avoid them.
Most veterinarians urge dog owners to have their dogs fully vaccinated before camping, hiking, or spending a day in the forest. If you’re not sure if your pooch is up on its shots, including the Lyme disease vaccination, ask your vet.
Protect Paws from Heat and Thorns
While the forest floor and meadows are nice and cool on exposed paws, streets and sidewalks can be extremely hot in the summertime heat. Just because a paved area is alongside a campground doesn’t mean your dog’s paws won’t get burned. To protect your pet, touch the street or sidewalk with your hand. If it’s too hot for you then it’s likely too much for your furry companion.
Another obstacle to avoid is thorns on the trail. They’re hard to spot and even harder to avoid. We suggest buying your pet a set of dog boots. These wonderful inventions slip onto your dog’s feet and are designed for all sorts of climates.
Watch out for Ticks and Fleas
When you’re camping, you’ll generally find ticks in high grasses, under leaves, and shaded areas. Ticks do not attack from trees, but rather from the ground or grasses, crawling upwards. Because you’re more likely to be wearing hiking boots, they won’t find anyplace to attach on you. But your dog is susceptible.
To help alleviate the risks of ticks, keep your dog walking down the center of trails. Also, set up camp in designated areas. If you’re hiking in and setting up camp outside a campground, be sure to avoid areas where there are a lot of leaves on the ground. Also, put your dog’s sleeping area in a sunny spot. Younger ticks called nymphs cannot live in direct sunlight, and will be less likely to attach to your pet.
Fleas are a bit harder to avoid. These pests attack mammals of all shapes and sizes, including your canine. While there isn’t a lot you can do to avoid fleas completely, applying flea and tick treatments and repellents before you hit the trails can help. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges pet owners to use repellents that contain at least 20% DEET. While it might not be the most natural alternative, it is one of the most effective.
Slithering Snakes and Curious Canines Don’t Play Well Together
There are many snake species throughout the Northwest. While some of them are venomous, many are not. But that doesn’t mean a bite won’t be extremely painful. To help avoid contact with snakes, keep your dog away from downed logs, riverbanks in the sunlight, leafy areas, and interesting holes in the ground.
If your dog gets bitten by a snake, the best thing you can do is stay calm. Do not try to extract the venom yourself and do not panic. Instead, try the following steps:
- Take a picture of the snake (if possible) or note the size and coloring.
- Check your dog for bite marks (some snakes bite more than once).
- Call the nearest vet for advice (if you have cell service). If not, get to the nearest veterinarian as quickly as possible.
Preventing Ear Infections and Other Issues
If you’re going to be at the river or lake, your dog is going to want to go for a swim now and then. That’s completely understandable. However, because a dog’s ear canal is long with an L-shaped turn as it gets deeper, fluids can collect there and cause issues. That includes bacterial infections, yeast or fungus infections, viruses, and more.
Typically, dogs will shake the water out of their ears in a spectacular fashion. But, if your canine is scratching at its ears excessively, rubbing its head on the ground, or emitting an odor from its ears, you may need to get them into the vet for treatment.
Cheatgrass is another problem for dogs and their ears, fur, and skin. The barbs that attach to pets and your socks have one-way microscopic bards that invasively get into skin, causing sores and infections. It’s nearly impossible to avoid cheatgrass throughout the Northeast, so the best remedy is a daily check for barbs. Look for cheatgrass sticking to the inside of their ears, around their paws, on their legs, and along their stomach and neck.
Coastal Loves Dogs (and Pets)
Stop by your West-Coast owned and operated Coastal before your next outdoor adventure and pick up all the necessities you’ll need, including food, clothing, backpacks, and treats for your four-legged family member.