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Summer Care for the Outdoor Dog

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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Whether due to space limitations or personal preference, some owners choose to keep their dogs outdoors. A fenced-in yard or similar type of enclosure is the best. However, if your dog lives outdoors, you need to provide special care to keep him cool and comfortable during hot summer months.

Housing and Shelter

In the summer, you need to provide adequate shelter to protect him from the sun and the heat. A large doghouse with a cool floor or straw bedding works well. Make sure the opening to the doghouse is not facing the sun. If you choose to equip the doghouse with fans to circulate the air, it should be done professionally because curious dogs can chew electric cords and create a serious hazard.

If possible, keep the floor several inches above ground to prevent water from running inside. This increases the chance of illness in your dog. The doghouse should be big enough to allow your dog to stretch without any part of his body touching the sides.

If straw bedding is used, it will need to be changed periodically. The straw can become moldy and create a variety of skin and respiratory problems. You should not use hay because it often contains a fungus that can cause severe nosebleeds.

Grooming

Keeping your outdoor dog regularly groomed will help maintain a healthy hair coat. Long thick hair coats can be a problem in the summer heat. Some owners choose to visit the groomer in early summer and have the long thick hair trimmed. Whether your dog is trimmed or not, keeping the coat free of mats will help keep the dog cool.

Feeding

Dogs kept outdoors in the summer do not use as much energy in regulating body temperature as in the winter. Make sure your dog is offered a good quality dog food. Be aware that dogs may not eat well in times of extreme heat. Monitor your dog closely during severe heat waves. Water is also essential in the summer. Provide plenty of fresh water daily. Stagnant pools of water or swimming pools can make your dog seriously ill if he drinks from them, so don't allow your dog to use these as water sources. Only fresh water is acceptable.

Health Concerns

In the summertime, dogs are susceptible to a variety of ailments. Careful monitoring is necessary to detect illness early. Heat stroke is a potentially fatal hazard, especially for dogs not offered proper housing and water. Without prompt veterinary treatment, many dogs with heat stroke perish.

In addition to exposure to excessive heat, fleas, ticks and flies are prevalent. Any skin irritation or wound can result in maggot infestation. If your outdoor dog is not properly confined, ingestion of trash can lead to gastrointestinal upset.

Keep all automotive items away from your dog. Many people change antifreeze in the spring and exposure to antifreeze can be deadly. Make sure your dog has no access to any toxic or dangerous chemicals.

Herbicides, fertilizers and other lawn and garden supplies can pose a health threat. Keep these products safely away from your dog.

Veterinary Care

Annual physical exams are very important in the outdoor dog. Prompt diagnosis and treatment of illness is important. Make sure your outdoor dog is adequately protected from disease by vaccination. Have your dog checked for intestinal parasites and properly dewormed. Discuss flea and tick prevention alternatives with your veterinarian. Heartworm prevention is also very important in the outdoor dog. By being outdoors, his exposure to mosquitoes is great and the possibility of contracting heartworms is increased.

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