15 Ways To Keep Your Dog Safe While Exploring This Summer

Whether you’re hitting the trails, the beach or the road, we’ve rounded up key pet safety tips.

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Summer vacations are just more fun with the whole family in tow — including your pup. Whether you’re hitting the beach, the trails or the road this summer, though, you’re going to want to make sure your dog is able to enjoy it safely. (Peace of mind will make the outing less stressful for dog parents, too!) So, we’ve outlined 15 key tips to keep in mind while getting out and about this summer — so that you and your pup can make the most of the season together.

On the trails

  • Check for ticks - Ticks are common in wooded areas, so be sure to check for them by combing through your dog's fur with your fingers, feeling for any bumps on the skin. If you find one, dislodge it with tweezers or a special tick removal tool.
  • Keep an eye out for toxic plants - Many common plants are toxic to dogs if ingested, so it’s important to keep your dog from biting on any plants on a hike. Make sure you stay on the trail, and keep them leashed, so you can redirect them as needed. Training cues, such as “leave it,” are important to teach your dog, too!
  • Give your pup plenty of breaks - Your dog may be so excited to adventure with you, that they may not know how to communicate that they need a break. On a long hike especially, you’ll want to make plenty of stops for them to catch their breath and drink some water. Keep an eye out for signs of overexertion, too: excessive panting and limping are telltale signs, as is your dog lying down in the middle of the hike.

At the beach

  • Know the signs of overheating - In warm, sunny weather, dogs can get just as hot (if not hotter!) than humans — especially if you have a long-haired dog breed. Panicked panting, shortness of breath, or bright red mouths are all emergency signs of overheating, which means you should get your dog to a vet. To make sure they stay cool, keep ice packs and a spray bottle on hand, as well as an umbrella for shade.
  • Give them a life jacket - Even if you’re not sure your dog will venture into the water, a life jacket is important to have whenever you’re near water. Not all dogs know how to swim instinctively!
  • Protect their paws on hot sand - Sand can heat up to dangerous temperatures — as hot as pavement sometimes! Try to head to the beach during cooler parts of the day, (morning and early evening), or invest in protective footwear. (These should be removed once you’re in the shade, because they can make your dog hotter!)

On the road

  • Make sure they’re secure while driving - The best option to keep your dog safe is to secure them in a crate or carrier while in the car. If your car isn’t large enough for a crate, then look for a harness that’s approved by the Center for Pet Safety.
  • Keep the car well-ventilated - Your backseat may be a lot warmer than you are in the driver’s seat, even while driving. Make sure their vents are open and the air is flowing, that way your dog doesn’t get too warm.
  • Don’t let them hang out the window - As cute as it can be (and as much as your dog loves it!), letting them stick their head out of the window while the vehicle is in motion can have a lot of safety risks, especially when on highways. Smaller dogs can fall out of the car, or a loose rock or debris could hit your dog while you’re on the road.

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At a “home” away from home

  • Be mindful of other animals who live there - Be it a short-term rental or a hotel, you’ll want to know in advance if other animals are calling the property home. Then assess if your dog is socialized enough with those other creatures to safely interact. Remember, your dog may love other pooches, but be terrified at the sight of a chicken!
  • Pet-proof the property as needed - After checking in, do a quick walk through to see if there are any breakables or valuables within your dog’s reach and relocate them. You may also want to bring one of your security gates from home to block off any stairwells or hallways, too.
  • Bring a few items to make sure it feels like home - Dogs are creatures of habit, and can feel overwhelmed in a new place. Bring their beds, any toys they love, and their regular food bowls to make the rental or hotel room feel almost like home.

In a new city

  • Make sure they stay hydrated - Even if you’re only going for a walk around the neighborhood, you’ll want to make sure your dog drinks plenty of water on hot days in the concrete jungle. They need an ounce of water for every pound of body weight daily, and potentially more in hot weather.
  • Go on walks earlier in the day - If your dog is new to the city, let them get accustomed to the sights and sounds earlier in the day, when it’s likely to be less hectic. Letting them explore without so much stimulation will help them from getting too nervous while out and about.
  • Watch for food scraps while outdoor dining - Taking your pup to an al fresco dining spot or backyard barbecue is one of the best parts of summer, but keep an eye on what others might feed your pup, or what they may find on the ground!