By Grace Park
Published: 07/01/2016, edited: 06/08/2021
Many thanks to Dr. Cindy Bressler for this guest post. Beaches, and BBQs and pool parties, oh my! Fourth of July weekend is about fun in the sun with friends (and four-legged friends) and, of course, fireworks! Whether you’re heading to the beach or celebrating in your own backyard, if your dog is coming along, it’s important to keep their well being in mind as you make plans.
Here are a few tips for keeping your dog safe during your 4th of July weekend festivities.
While the beach serves as a great summer playground for you and your dog, remember dogs are exposed to the same risks we are. Dogs should always be supervised when swimming in the ocean and life jackets for dogs are very important. Always be sure to rinse off your dog after a day at the beach.
The sun can be just as harmful to pets as it can be to us. Hair should not be shaved completely to keep animals cool because it exposes more of the skin to the sun’s harmful rays. Sunscreen with an SPF of 45 or greater should be placed on areas with less or no hair including the abdomen, nose, and tips of ears. Do not allow extended exposure to the sun. Make sure your dog has access to shade and freshwater at all times.
The sand can be VERY HOT, especially during peak sun hours. Running on the sand can cause irritation to the delicate skin on the paws. Always rinse your dog’s paws when they get home from the beach and check the pads and the skin around the toes for redness and inflammation. If you see any of these signs or if your dog is constantly licking his or her paws, skip a few days at the beach and allow the inflammation to heal.
Saltwater can also cause dryness or irritation to the skin. Some skin conditions may be helped with the ocean water, however, every case is individual so if your dog has a particular condition, ask your vet for advice. Eye irritation is commonly seen in the summer as a result of overexposure to saltwater. If your dog’s eyes are red or if he is rubbing or pawing at his eyes, he may need treatment. If you notice a white or yellow ocular discharge after a long day of ocean swimming, it’s a good idea to rinse out their eyes with an over the counter eyewash.
Some dogs love to swim, and although it’s amusing to us when a dog takes a quick dip in the pool, pets must be supervised in the swimming pool at all times. One of the most common emergencies I see in the summer is drowning. Do not assume that your dog knows how to swim. They must be taught how to swim, how to find the stairs to exit the pool, and should wear a lifejacket as they tire easily when treading water.
Constant exposure to chlorine can cause skin irritation and dryness and changes to the hair color may also be seen. Bathe your pet with a gentle pet shampoo and conditioner after continuous exposure to chlorine.
Ear infections are one of the most common problems seen in the summer. Dogs that swim in the ocean or the pool accumulate a lot of water in their ears which predisposes them to ear infections. Always dry your dog’s ears with cotton after swimming or after a bath. If your dog is scratching his ears or shaking his head, he may have an infection. Redness or an unpleasant odor may also be present. In these cases, consult your veterinarian immediately.
Bringing your dog along to the great outdoors can be a wonderful experience for both you and your dog. However, it’s important to plan accordingly when taking your dog camping. Even ordinary campground setups like campfires, grills, and candles present risks often overlooked. Likewise, the outdoors increases exposure to plants, weeds, fleas, and dust mites that may cause allergic reactions in some dogs.
During and after an outdoor trip, look for signs of redness, pimples, scaly skin discoloration, and hair loss. If you see any of these things or if your dog is scratching or biting themselves a lot, contact your Vet.
Flea and tick control should be used during the summer months. Mosquito bites and fleabites can cause severe itchiness or redness with secondary infection. Always check your dog’s skin after a camping trip for ticks as catching a tick too late runs the risk of your dog catching Lyme disease.
Signs of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases include fever, lameness, lethargy, loss of appetite, weakness, bruising or hemorrhages on the skin, weight loss, abnormal bleeding (nosebleeds, bleeding under the skin that resembles spots or patches of bruising) enlarged lymph nodes, pain and stiffness, coughing, discharge from the eyes and/or nose, vomiting and diarrhea inflammation or bleeding in the eye, neurological symptoms including incoordination, depression or paralysis. If you notice any of these symptoms after a camping trip, seek immediate medical treatment.
Bee Stings are common during the summertime. Severe swelling of the face especially around the eyes, nose, and lips is seen. A very severe allergic reaction may occur and can lead to difficulty breathing, which could turn into a life-threatening emergency. Bring Benadryl in case of emergencies and contact your Vet if you see any swelling, as your dog may need other medication besides Benadryl. Make sure that the Benadryl you use contains the antihistamine diphenhydramine as the ONLY active ingredient. Do not use Benadryl cold or sinus medications.
Dogs are usually not affected by Poison Ivy but can transfer the toxin from the plant to you from their hair coat. If you know that your dog has been in contact with poison ivy, bathe him with a gentle shampoo.
Please keep your dog away from the campfire and don’t let them sit in the direction the smoke is blowing. Make sure they don’t pick up a burning piece of wood to play with. If they do, immediately check for burns on their feet, legs, and mouth. If you find a severe burn, consult your veterinarian immediately.
Dogs may jump onto surfaces containing decorative candles or citronella candles, risking catching on fire, or burning themselves from the flame, or from hot wax that spilled onto their skin. Always keep an eye on your dog’s whereabouts.
Thousands of dogs go missing every summer. If you haven’t already done so, and you’re planning a lot of outdoor activities this summer, you may want to seriously consider putting a microchip on your dog. Microchips have proven to significantly increase the chances of finding and recovering a missing dog. Consult your vet for the best options.
Fireworks and dogs don’t mix well. The loud sounds fireworks make can be extremely traumatizing to your dog. Exposing your dog to fireworks can oftentimes result in them needing tranquilizers or other medications to calm them down. Lastly, and I hope this goes without saying, but please keep your dog far, far away from anyone lighting fireworks. Accidents involving fireworks are seen every summer. If burns occur, seek emergency help immediately.
Wishing you and your pup a Happy 4th!
Dr. Cindy Bressler is an NYC and Hamptons, Long Island Veterinarian. She graduated from the Atlantic Veterinary College in Prince Edward Island, Canada, and held a residency at the Animal Medical Center in Manhattan specializing in small animal internal medicine before starting her own House Call Veterinarian practice in 2003.
The views, advice, and opinions expressed in this guest post are entirely those of the guest author, and are in no way affiliated with Wag!
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