Julie, our young puppy has been a kind of hot house flower this winter. With warm weather coming, I’d like to see her spend more time outside where she can exercise. We’ve fenced the yard, but what else should we do to keep her happy and safe when she’s outdoors?
You are absolutely right. Pets need exercise to stay healthy. At the same time, the outdoors has many hazards like cars, fences, other animals, insects and heartworm disease.
Start Julie slowly on her warm weather program. You can begin with short walks through the neighborhood to acquaint her with the area and meeting people, and to limber her muscles and joints for more strenuous exercise. Be sure to take treats with you that people that she meets can give her so that she realizes that meeting people is a “good thing”!
Make sure she is current on her vaccinations and taking her heartworm medicine. It’s also wise to have a collar on her with current contact information and even have her microchipped too. Insects can be a major summertime headache, especially if you live in a wet or woody area. Check Julie frequently for ticks and fleas to keep her free of these pests -- and to keep her from bringing them into your house. Bathing, brushing and trimming are the best protection against insects.
Insect enemy number one is the mosquito who can transmit the larvae of the potentially-fatal heartworm disease. The thread-like adult worms work through an animal’s blood vessels and attack lungs and heart. Heartworm medicine destroys the larvae before adults can develop. Your veterinarian can check Julie for heartworms with a simple blood test and provide you with the appropriate medication.
Summertime heat and humidity can be dangerous as well as intolerable. To protect Julie from heatstroke, you should have plenty of shade and water.
The most common complaints during hot weather are rashes, itching and shedding. Fleas, insect allergies, some plants, pollen and the steamy environment can be sources of trouble. If the problem is severe, Julie should see a veterinarian.
Finally, beware of pesticides and herbicides ingested when dogs lick their paws. You can avoid the danger by keeping animals off the grass until sprays can dry.
With these precautions and supervision, Julie should have a happy and healthy summer.