Summer is the time of year we all wait for! Long days, sunny days (at least a few sunny days in our neck of woods), and play time with increased exercise and activity! What’s not to love?
These factors also result in our pets being more active in the summer. While you and your dog are both outside enjoying the nice weather, it is important to remember some dog care tips for the warm months.
Doggie Haircuts and Grooming
Dogs, like kids, love to get messy and dirty when outdoors! Expect to get your dog regularly groomed or cleaned during the summer months. Depending on your dog, their breed, hair coat type, temperament, etc. this may mean more baths, more post-swim rinses, and regular hair cuts or more trips to the pet groomer for a combination of these needs.
While some dog breeds can have their hair trimmed often and quite short, other breeds should not be trimmed too short or be shaved, unless advised so for medical reasons by a veterinarian or vet skin specialist.
Hair regrowth after a hair trim or shaving of the fur should be considered to ensure against surprises such as long term hair loss. It is best to talk to your pet’s groomer or family veterinarian regarding the frequency of grooming and haircuts that would be right for your pet. Partial grooming such as nail trims, or paw trimming can also be considered. This may be accomplished at home if you are comfortable with the technique, or may be requested through vet care professionals.
Brush, Brush, Brush
Regardless of the season, brushing the hair coat of your dog can help you keep them in tip-top shape, and may also help you spend quality time with your fur buddy.
Most dogs cannot get enough of this mode of socialization (no more social distancing once you bring out the brush!!). And all dogs benefit from a good brushing!
Moreover, brushing by using a brush, rake, or comb also helps:
- remove foreign objects such as twigs and leaves from thick hair coats,
- may help remove matted hair (be gentle when you find a mat, as aggressively removing them can hurt),
- you to find (and treat, ideally under your vet’s supervision) parasites such as ticks from your pet,
- remove the excess and dead undercoat of your dog to help them stay cool so the air can circulate the dog’s skin instead of holding in moisture.
While any time is a good time to brush, post-bath brushing and post-swim brushing is definitely a good time.
Paw Care for Dogs
For your doggie’s paws, keeping their paw hair short can help. This is especially true for active dogs that go for hikes or spend a lot of time outdoors. It helps to keep the outside messy weeds, foxtails, twigs, etc. from getting stuck in the hair.
Regular nail trims are also helpful. Short, well-managed nails are more likely to stay healthy, and have minimal risk of injury or breakage. If your dog lets you trim their nails, do so often. If they don’t enjoy the activity, gentle trimming with positive rewards (think treats!) can help most dogs tolerate nail trimming well. Be aware that some dogs absolutely despise the act of nail trims. Working with the family veterinarian or pet groomer to help with positive outcomes from nail trimming can help many dogs, as they can start becoming more accepting of nail trims. Some dogs tolerate dremels better than nail clippers for their pet nail care. It may take time, but hopefully it can become at least a tolerable, and hopefully an enjoyable, activity.
Keep Those Fleas Away
Summer is also a time to be vigilant for fleas in most places. In the Vancouver, Vancouver Island, and Fraser Valley regions, fleas can be a year-round problem.
Make sure all your pets are protected from fleas year-round, or at least during warmer months if you live in a place where fleas are a seasonal concern. Topical flea treatments (applied by you or by your veterinarian) can be washed away and be ineffective, if your dog swims or bathes within 1-2 days of the application. Talk to your veterinarian about which product is best for your pet, and how best to administer the specific product.
Keep Those Ticks Away Too!
Yes, ticks are a problem all over Canada! Like fleas, if you live in the Vancouver or Victoria areas, the season may not matter.
Keeping your pets (all dogs and/or cats in the family) on tick prevention is a good idea, even for city dogs. We are blessed with lots of green spaces within the city limits, this comes with the need for parasite control for all pets.
Like flea preventives, there are various products available for tick prevention too. Some products may help prevent both of these parasites from affecting your pets.
Swimming Related Dog Care
Swimming is an awesome activity, and quite a few dogs love it (not all, but most dogs do!). For dogs that do, it is great exercise (causes less trauma to the joints, compared to running) and hydrates their hair coat and skin.
It is always a good idea to rinse your dog’s skin with clean water, if possible. Most healthy dogs do not need their ears cleaned post-swimming, but gentle wiping of the ear canal with a gauze or cotton ball moistened with a safe ear solution is acceptable to help keep the ears dry.
Excessive ear flushing or hair plucking from ears can be detrimental to the ears, thus veterinary supervision is advised prior to performing such “routine” ear care treatments.
If ear concerns develop, visit your veterinarian or pet ear care dermatologist at once.
Don’t Forget to Hydrate
In the hot summer weather, our pets need to stay hydrated, just like us. Replenish your pet’s water dish regularly. Some dogs may not be able to tolerate long periods in the sun or be active for long in hot weather. Be aware of your pet’s breed, age and medical status, and exert them only as much as they can safely handle. Enjoy summer!
Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to VetDERM Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.
Dr. Jangi Bajwa is a Board certified veterinary dermatologist at VetDERM Clinic in Surrey BC. He is also the dermatology feature editor for Canadian Veterinary Journal. Dr. Bajwa’s special interests include otitis and allergic disease in pets; as well as helping improve quality of life of pets and their families.