By Jessica Pepenella
Photography by Sara Caruso
This summer, while going for a stroll with your dog or just hanging out with him/her at the beach in hot weather, there are a number of health and safety considerations you need to keep in mind. Thanks to the Humane Society and a few local pet lovers, here are a few precautions that should make a big difference in how your pet enjoys his/her time on Long Beach Island.
If you walk your dog, don’t walk in extremely hot weather. This is especially important for older dogs, dogs with thick coats, and little dogs with squished faces such as pugs, because it is harder for them to breathe. All dogs need to exercise, even in hot weather, but do not bring them out in the hottest part of the day. Plan on early morning or late evening walks, when the pavement or sand is cooler and will not burn your pet’s paws. When you do walk, remember to pour water on your dog’s head, feet, stomach, and back, in order to keep it cool. Even with these precautions, though, you should also remember to watch closely for signs of heat exhaustion, such as heavy panting, glazed eyes, shaking, vomiting, or a deep red or purple tongue. If your dog shows any of these symptoms, you should apply cold towels or ice packs to its head, neck, and chest, only, provide it with water or ice cubes, and go to a vet immediately.
When your dog travels with you by car, make sure to open the windows sufficiently to allow for air circulation when you park, and don’t leave your dog in the car for than a few minutes, in any event. As Renee Kennedy of Renee’s Ultimate Pet Service explained: “Pet owners shouldn’t leave their pets in the car if they stop, it only takes minutes for heat to seriously affect them. But, if you must leave your pet in the car for a few moments, open the windows or put on the air conditioning. But never leave a dog in the car for more than two minutes.” By leaving your dog in the car, even if parked in the shade, you expose your dog to the risk of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, or even death. Remember that sometimes a quick errand or stop over can take longer than anticipated. Also, as an animal lover, you should keep a watch out for other pets left in cars. The Humane Society advises that if you notice a pet in a car alone during a intensely hot day, you should alert the management of the store where the car is parked, so they can notify local animal control authorities if the dog is left for too long.
In addition to avoiding the danger of heat exposure, it is also important to maintain your pet’s safety by not driving with them in the back of a truck. Dogs should ride either in the front of the truck or in a secured crate in the bed of the truck, and you need to bring food and water in sufficient amounts. Also, you need to remember to bring all the appropriate records from your vet in case your dog needs emergency care. Finally, you should remember to keep up all regular care routines, such as flea, heartworm, and tick medication.
If you are wondering about sunscreen, pet care professionals suggest that you do not put human sunscreen on your dog. Your pet will only sweat or rub it off and likely get it in his/her eyes, nose, and mouth. Instead, there are several vet-approved sunscreens that cost less than $10 and sun protective rash guards that cost about $20. Keep in mind that pets with light-colored noses or light-colored fur on their ears are particularly vulnerable to sunburn and skin cancer.
You should also make sure your dog always wears its collar with ID tags, as pets can easily be separated from owners. If this happens, you will need to rely on your dog’s tags for a safe return. Also be cautious of your dog eating unfamiliar things or drinking water that may contain plant food, fertilizer, or insecticides. Additionally, the Humane Society has a list of over 700 plants that can cause harm or death to your pet, so please make sure your dog does not ingest anything he/she should not. Finally, while everybody enjoys fireworks and outdoor summer concerts, you need to remember that dogs do not. Crowds and loud noises can upset your pet and even cause it harm.
See your vet for more information and suggested products for your dog’s safe enjoyment of the beach. Your vet will help you with whatever questions you have in order to ensure your dog has the best possible vacation at the Shore!