Aussies have a reputation for loving the outdoors, particularly during the warmer seasons. And lucky for us, summer is just around the corner.
But with the heat comes a few extra hazards to be aware of when it comes to our summertime daily routine— and we’re not just talking about dangers for humans. There are also increased risks for pets during the hotter months.
So, as a dog walker, here are some things we think you need to be aware of to make sure the pooches you care for stay safe and healthy.
Parasites are a much more common occurrence through the warmer months. And something that can cause real problems for any pup.
Of course, it's the owner's responsibility to make sure their dog is protected. And there are heaps of different flea treatments, shampoos and sprays. But it doesn't hurt to chat to your clients or give them a gentle reminder as summer nears. You might even suggest they talk to a vet about options if they seem unsure about what products to use.
Fires on the beach are particularly popular throughout the summer season. But the aftermath can be risky for canines. Hot coals and unknown foods can be a health hazard for any pooch.
Be on the lookout for recently lit campfires and barbeques when walking dogs. Particularly in off lead areas. For instance, be vigilant on beaches where hot embers can be hard to see.
People will often cover fire pits in sand to douse the flames, but they can retain intense heat for hours.
And just because dogs have a covering of fur doesn't mean they aren't susceptible to sunburn. Pooches that are particularly at risk are the light and thinly coated breeds. Areas such as the nose can be readily burnt too due to sun exposure.
Additionally, paws can be easily damaged when walking in the heat of the day. Sand and asphalt heat up quickly, so if you have to walk when it's hot, try sticking to grassy parks, preferably close to water. To judge if a surface is too hot for dogs, hold palm to tarmac for 10 seconds. If it burns your hand, it'll burn their paws.
Dogs can suffer from heatstroke, just like humans. And can be the result of high temperatures, humidity and poor ventilation.
Puppies and older dogs are generally more susceptible as are dogs with thick, heavy coats or dogs with an existing cardiovascular or respiratory condition.
Certain breeds have narrow airways and may be more easily affected. If you suspect that a dog in your care is suffering from heat stress, get them into a cooler environment. If there's water nearby, pour some over the dog but make sure it's not too cold and wrap the pup in a wet towel, taking them to the vet immediately.
What to look out for include:
- Heavy panting
- Anxious behaviours
- Rapid heartbeat
It's best to walk a dog on a lead or ensure it won't leave your side when going for a walk in areas known to have snakes. There's less chance of an encounter if the pooch is beside you the whole time.
Don't allow animals in your care; explore dunes or areas with tall grass and avoid rocky places where snakes like to rest.
Canines are curious by nature, so you'll need to monitor what they're doing continually.
A dog should have some obedience training, so it responds quickly to commands. That way, if a confrontation should happen, the dog will return to you promptly.
If you think a pup may have been bitten, it's essential to keep them calm and quiet. And seek out veterinary care immediately.
If possible, apply a pressure bandage (not a tourniquet) to help slow the venom and do not wash the wound. Blood or urine tests should be able to identify the type of snake responsible, so never attempt to catch or kill the snake.
Your summer work schedule may need some adjustment to avoid exercising dogs in the middle of the day.
On the bright side, the days are longer, so evening walks or early morning exercise may be a nice change. And are the best time to walk dogs when it's hot.
Whatever the effect on your work hours, as someone responsible for the care of dogs, it's essential that you don't take them out in extreme temperatures, which could put their health at risk.
You'll also need to avoid vigorous exercise altogether when it's hot and humid. So enjoy a leisurely stroll, frequently stopping for drinks and a rest.
It's a beautiful time of year to be a dog walker, being able to enjoy the outdoors while most of society is stuck at the office. So make the most of it and have fun with the most loyal workmates the world has to offer.