Sure, these warm, long days offer plenty of chances to have fun outside with your pets. But they also mean increased safety risks, as the combination of heat, dehydration, sun and insects can pose real problems for our four-legged friends. We’ve put together some safety tips to ensure that you and your dogs have a fun – and safe! – summer season.

  1. Drink up. In summer heat, dehydration sneaks up quickly. Keep fresh water available for your pets at all times. One simple trick is to always stash a bottle of water and a collapsible water bowl in the back of your car so you’ll have them with you always. On hiking trips, pack water for your pets as well as yourself, and try to make stops in streams for your dogs to wade and drink.
  2. Keep sun safe. Dogs need sunscreen too (for more info, see our post on sunscreen). Short-haired and light-colored dogs are most at risk for sunburn. Also look for shady spots for dogs to rest from the sun.
  3. Never leave dogs in the car for any amount of time. Time in a car in temperatures as low as 72 degrees can still lead to heat stroke. See our post for more important reminders about the dangers of time in a parked car.
  4. Repel ticks. Lyme disease is a real and dangerous threat to dogs’ health. The best protection is prevention. Buy prescription-strength insect protection from your vet and administer it year-round. Learn more about Lyme disease and prevention in the Summer 2014 issue (available July 15).
  5. Water, water everywhere. Most dogs love to swim, but a few need extra care. Before swimming, be sure all dogs know how to exit the lake or pool. Never throw a dog in water; help her gradually enter the water on her own, noting that pools, lakes and streams all feel very different to dogs. While swimming, if your dogs can’t keep their bodies level with minimal splashing, consider using a doggie life-jacket. And be sure even good swimmers take breaks at least every 20 minutes. Read the “Expert Advice” column in the Summer 2014 issue (available July 15) for more information on swimming safety and swimming sports.

Finally, the July 4th fireworks can make for a frightful evening for many dogs, even those who are usually comfortable around loud noises. offers the following important tips for making Independence Day more enjoyable (or at least safe and tolerable) for your dogs.

Do not take your pet to fireworks displays.

Keep your pets in your home in a comfortable and quiet area with the shades drawn. If your pets are crate trained, then their crate is a great choice.  Some animals can become destructive when frightened, so be sure that you’ve removed any items that your pet could destroy or that would be harmful to your pet if chewed. Leave a television or radio playing at normal volume to keep your pet company while you’re attending Fourth of July picnics, parades, and other celebrations.

If you know that your pet is seriously distressed by loud noises like thunder, consult with your veterinarian before July 4th for ways to help alleviate the fear and anxiety he or she will experience during fireworks displays.

If your pets seek comfort in a bath tub, under a bed or other small space…let them. Do not try to lure them out.  If the space is safe and it makes them feel more secure, let them be.

Never leave pets outside unattended, even in a fenced yard or on a chain. In their fear, pets who normally wouldn’t leave the yard may escape and become lost, or become entangled in their chain, risking injury or death.

Make sure your pets are wearing identification tags and are microchipped so that if they do become lost, they can be returned promptly. Animals found running at-large should be taken to the local animal shelter, where they will have the best chance of being reunited with their owners.

With a little advanced planning, July 4th — as well as every day of the summer — can be full of great adventures with your dogs. So get out there and have some fun!