Five summer tips for having fun with your pets this summer
Summer is a wonderful time for pets and their owners: it’s warmer and brighter outside, so there are more opportunities for outdoor activities. There are some issues and risks, of course, but with a little planning, these can be kept to a minimum.
The single biggest issue is the risk of overheating: heat stroke is common in pet dog. In cats, the main issue is sunburn and skin cancer.
Finzi accompanied me to the TV3 studios: she is a black dog – especially prone to overheating as dark fur heats up more quickly than light/white fur (which reflects sunlight).
1. Travelling with your pet
Travel safe: use a carrier in the back of the car, or a harness that allows a seat belt to be attached.
Julius K9 harness €47.99
Allows dog to be clipped into seat belt, and also has handle that can be helpful for holding dog at different times
- Never leave any animal alone in a car, even for what you think is going to be “a few minutes”: cars heat up so quickly because they are an enclosed air space
- Keep your pet cool during car journeys as much as you can e.g. air conditioning, windows open for fresh air.
- If on a long journey, stop every half hour to check that your pet is OK and maybe to go for a short walk
- Make sure your pet always has a fresh supply of cool drinking water.
A collapsible travel bowl, costing €3.99
Makes it easy to dispense water from a bottle
2. Exercising with your pet
- Feed your pet 10% less food than normal: the digestive processes generate heat.
- For the same reason, feed your pet at cooler times of the day i.e. morning and evening
- Carry a supply of water and a drinking bowl with you whenever you are out with your pet, so that you can offer regular top ups throughout the day
- Walk your dog early in the morning or late in the evening rather than in the full heat of the day.
Chuckit ball launcher €17.99
Chuckit balls €14.99
These are the ideal chasing object for dogs: Finzi loves them. The basic idea is a long plastic stick for throwing the balls, and the balls come in different types
a) standard, like a tennis ball, but tougher so that a dog cannot chew them to bits
b) Finzi’s favourite – with holes, so that it makes a faint whistle which helps dog follow the ball
c) Floater chuckit balls- designed to float in water
3. Exercise in water
- Take your dog for a cooling swim rather than the usual walk: there’s less risk of overheating
- Be aware of water safety: dogs can drown, and owners can drown when they try to rescue a dog in trouble
- Make sure that there is an easy-in and easy-out route for your dog if going into a river or lake
- The Julius K9 harness (see above) includes a handle that is useful for lifting dogs out of water if needed
Kong Aqua €21.99
I’ve often mentioned Kongs as a useful way to entertain dogs that enjoy chewing
Kong Aqua floats and has a long rope attached to make it easy to throw for a dog
K9 Connectables are a range of Irish-designed interactive dog toys.They are chew-resistant, they float on water, and they are full of grooves, crevices and holes so that they can be stuffed with food treats. There’s a ball shaped one that can be thrown using a ball chucker, and it bounces. They come in a range of shapes and sizes that can be used as toys on their own, or they can be clipped together, like Lego, into larger shapes that dogs can enjoy pulling apart. Toys cost from around €10 up for a pair, with free postage and packing for orders over €29.To find out more, visit http://www.k9connectables.com/
4. Never throw a stick for your dog
Sticks often cause injuries to the mouth, tongue and throat when a dog runs onto one, like running onto a javelin impaled in the ground.
Instead, use any of the throw toys listed above, but also there is a special product designed to mimic sticks
Kong Safestix – €10.99
5. Protect pets from sunlight
Dogs generally have thicker fur, and thicker skin, so they are not too prone to sunlight problems
However cats with white ears and noses are very prone to sunburn and subsequent skin cancer, so use a total sunblock
Some white dogs roll on their back and bask in the sun: they also will benefit from sun block on the hairless areas of their underbelly
Choose one designed for pets, or alternatively, a hypoallergenic product designed for babies
Soltan Baby Hypoallergenic Suncare Cream SPF50+ – €4.50 from Boots
See the video below for more information and to view the products mentioned.