A Garden, a Barbecue, the Warmth of the Sun : Summer and your dog's safety

Summer is an outdoors season. The entire family wants to spend time in the sun, playing, gardening, eating and soaking up the sun. We can choose to protect ourselves from the dangers involved with these activities, but our dogs cannot. This is our responsibility. In order to protect our dogs, however, we have to know the dangers.

One of the most obvious benefits of summer is also among the deadliest. Heat can kill, but how can we protect our dogs from summer itself?

First and foremost, the dogs need to keep cool. Dogs perspire through their tongues. Compare that to our ability to perspire through thousands of pores. This means that dogs feel the heat more and are more susceptible to heat-related dangers like heat exhaustion or sun stroke. To keep your dog safe from these dangers:

Two other parts of summer actually create similar dangers. Firecrackers and thunder can startle or downright scare a dog. If you happen to be out of doors when it is possible either of these events could occur, keep your dog on a leash held tightly by someone strong enough to hold the dog and keep him from getting away. Of those that get loose, many get lost, and many are injured or killed because they run in blind terror in front of a car. Fireworks can also injure or kill a dog if they are set off too close to it, and can cause deafness if set off too close to his ears. It is best to keep your dog as far away from the fireworks as possible.

Even your garden, the safe haven you have created for yourself, has its share of danger to your family pet. Not the least of these is poisoning due to herbicide, fungicide, pesticide, pest control and fertilizer. The best ways to counter these dangers are:

There are other types of poisons you need to be aware of:

And there are other dangers in the garden:

If you keep your dog outside -- especially a small dog -- you may be risking his life. Preying birds and animals don't think of a smaller dog as a human, they think of it as something they can kill, carry off, and eat. This is especially true if you take your dog camping. Always keep him safe in a shady spot under a table or tree.

The food at barbecues can also cause a threat. Never let your pet eat:

And let us not forget that the garden plants themselves can also be dangerous to your dog. Some particularly harmful ones include: Amaryllis, Autumn Crocus (leaves), Avocado, Azalea and other Rhododendrons, Bird of Paradise, Cyclamen, Daffodil, Dieffenbachia (aka Dumb Cane), Easter Lily, Hibiscus, Holly, Hydrangea, Lily of the Valley, Mistletoe, Morning Glory, the entire Nightshade family (which includes tomato and potato plants), Philodendron and Schefflera, Poinsettia, Rhubarb (leaves and roots), Tobacco, certain vegetables like eggplant, mushrooms, toadstools... , and most herbs, if too much is eaten.

This sure seems like a lot of danger, doesn't it? It hardly seems safe to take your dogs outside, but remember, they want to be near you. They are social animals, as are you. These dangers can all be avoided by taking certain precautions, being watchful, using your common sense, and above all, keeping your dogs cool.





Beverly Muntain and Koko (the Rescue Tzu)
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada