It’s summer, hooray! Now that everyone is out with their dog enjoying the sunshine, it’s time to revisit some of those top causes of mid-summer angst. Go forth, have fun, and if you want to have a stress free season, avoid my Top 3 Ways to Ruin Your Dog’s Summer.
1. Forget to bring enough water
I’m working on a pithy catchphrase about the dangers of summer heat. (I think I have it.) We all know that leaving the dog in the car is a Very Bad Thing, but there’s many more subtle things we do that can also lead to an ER visit:
- We don’t provide proper shade
- We exercise our out of shape pups in the middle of the day
- We leave for a trip without enough water. Such a big one and often overlooked.
Dogs, especially overweight, brachycephalic, or dark coated dogs, overheat awfully rapidly. We have a whole sweaty body over which water can evaporate and carry away heat; dogs have only their tongues. Keeping your dog hydrated plays a big part in preventing heat exhaustion; in addition, you can dump it on your dog to give their body heat something to dissipate into. Water is everyone’s friend; don’t skimp on it.
Here goes: Heat stroke ain’t no joke. BOOM
2. Use a retractable lead
Once upon a time, a sweet elderly couple was walking their Pomeranian on a retractable lead when a large dog in a passing pickup jumped out and attacked the Pom, yanking the handle out of the elderly lady’s hand with the force of a pulley. Neither dog was controllable in this situation. The pickup truck driver jumped out to grab his dog, but he forgot to put on the emergency brake and the truck rolled down the hill and smashed into a bus. The Pomeranian died. The elderly man was so distraught at this horrible scene that he fell down on the ground and had a heart attack. He lived to tell the tale to me several months later. Yes, this happened to a client of mine.
Those long skinny strings provide no sense of control, just a false sense of security. They are thin enough to provide a real entanglement risk: people have lost fingers, dogs get tangled in each other, around objects, or loose and injured. No matter how many times you say “Oh, my dog is 100% perfect and never out of control” the bottom line is, there are external factors very much out of your control.
Oh, and this quote from Donna C. on Facebook: “I worked the Emergency Room while training to be an EMT. The number one cause of amputated fingers was from extendible leashes.” Yikes.
All those leashes are good for is hamstringing your enemies and, in a pinch, use as a garrote. Not that I’ve, uh, tried.
3. Let their vaccines expire
We all know that the immune system is not binary; your dog is not 100% protected against rabies 2 years and 364 days post vaccine and 100% susceptible to infection when the clock strikes 12. However, the bureaucracy is binary. You are legal one day and illegal the next, and that is that.
From a medical perspective, your dog is very likely protected for some time after their vaccinations officially expire. However, if you have an emergency or a sudden invitation to Lake Como (it could happen!) and need to leave right away , most boarding facilities won’t let your dog in without current vaccines. Not only that, most of them want a 48 hour period after vaccination before they’ll let you board. The rules may be arbitrary, but they’re seldom negotiable.
Let’s take it one step further, another example from real life: your lovely sweet dog who has never had an issue is attacked by another dog while out on a summer hike. While trying to separate them, the other dog’s owner gets bitten; because it’s not clear who bit the guy, both dogs are ordered to produce proof of vaccination. Your dog is several months overdue, and in the eye of the law is unvaccinated. Commence nightmare.
If you’re going the titer route, same rules apply. Get your ducks in order before the official expiry date and document, document, document.
All right, you crazy kids. Go out there and have fun! And bring your water!