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Summertime Fun with Your Dog

Summertime in Florida is the best time of the year. There are less people, almost no traffic, and the sun is shining. But there are important factors you need to keep in mind, especially if you’re thinking of bringing your dog along. The top 3 factors you need to keep in mind are sunshine, heat, and weather changes. So, when you decide to take your dog along for your summertime adventure, make sure you’re properly prepared.

Always have plenty of water. Even if you’re headed somewhere that’s “dog friendly,” make sure you bring water and a bowl for your pup. Some dogs won’t drink from a public source, and others are too submissive to bother trying. The water can also be used on the bottom of their sensitive paws if they have to walk across a hot surface, or if they need some help cooling down.

Never leave your dog unattended. Did you know that on a summer day in Florida, the inside of your car can reach temperatures between 130 and 172 degrees? This is beyond safe for a dog, and could easily kill him within just an hour, causing heat stroke in even less time.

Avoid extreme heat if you can. Extreme heat is a killer for humans, and it’s the same for our four-legged friends. A safe rule of thumb to go by is that if it’s hotter than 85, don’t bring the dog along. Even if the place you’re going is inside, your pup could burn his sensitive paws on the hot asphalt on the way in and out. When you do take your dog for his morning and evening walks, consider going at twilight and sunset. The sun will be less intense and it’ll be more comfortable for both of you.

When bad weather is on the way, keep your dog calm and safe. Florida is the lightning capital of the United States. On top of that, thunderstorms are an everyday occurrence during summertime in Florida. There are many dogs that are not only uncomfortable with rain and storms, but they are terrified. It’s helpful to give them a safe place in the house to hide if they become scared, or even something they can wear like a Thundershirt. Some owners even give their dogs anti-anxiety medications if they know bad weather is on the way.

Summertime is everyone’s favorite season. When you’re thinking of including Fido in your plans, make sure you’re properly prepared.

Have Fun and Be Safe at the Beach

Living in Southwest Florida means you’re close to the beach. And if you have a dog, you will want to bring him along to enjoy the sun and sand. When considering this adventure, make sure that both you and your four-legged friend are well prepared for the trip.

Bring plenty of water.

Your dog needs to stay hydrated, just like you. Bring a big cooler filled with ice and water along with a bowl for him to drink out of. The last thing you want is to see him drinking salt water, which can case diarrhea and vomiting. You can also use the bottled water to clean any sand off your pup’s face so he doesn’t try to use his messy paws to accidentally rub more sand into his sensitive eyes and ears.

Provide shade for your pup.

You wouldn’t want to sit in the hot sun wearing a fur coat all day, and your dog doesn’t either. Despite the cool water to play in, he can still get easily overheated. Bring a small shade tent or umbrella to take plenty of water breaks, or even a nice nap.

Know your dog’s comfort with the water.

Even dogs with webbing between their toes can be afraid of the water! If your dog has never been to the beach or has never been swimming, then it may be a good idea to buy a life jacket for him. You can buy these at most pet stores, or even online. Encourage him to test the water when you get to the beach, and then you can see whether he will need the life jacket.

Bring plenty of bags for poop.

There is nothing worse than trying to build a sand castle and finding an unpleasant surprise buried. Dogs can’t clean up after themselves, so it’s important for dog owners to be responsible and clean up after their furry friends. Make sure to bring plenty of bags, and if you see an owner who can’t find their poop bags or forgot, help them out. You’ll make a friend for next time!

Know the leash rules.

Some dog beaches don’t require a leash, but others require that dogs be on leashes of a certain length at all times. Do your research before heading to the beach, especially if there are no leash rules.

Watch for hidden dangers in the water.

Most people would assume this means sharks. Generally, though, you want to keep your dog away from mangrove beds, piers, or even sandbars. These can be breeding grounds for oysters, barnacles, and other sharp shells and creatures that can cut your pup’s feet and even cause serious infection. Scan the layout of the beach and make sure you keep an eye on where your dog goes when you let him off leash.

Give your pup a thorough bath afterward.

Wash your dog with cool, fresh water and gentle soap, and make sure to clean every crevice. Any leftover salt or sand that can irritate your skin can easily irritate his, too.

Apartment Living with a Dog

After the housing downturn, renting instead of owning a home became the optimal choice for many Americans. It’s less expensive, you don’t have to pay for some amenities, and it still gives you the satisfaction of having your own living space.

The most important decision you can make while living in an apartment is who you want as a roommate. Most Americans choose a friend or relative, or a significant other. More and more, however, are choosing their four-legged companions. But what does it mean to have a dog as a roommate in an apartment, and what do you need to consider before getting a dog when you’re in an apartment?

Be realistic about your space and what you want.    

There are some breeds and temperaments of dogs that are just not well-suited to apartment life. Dogs that are very high energy, such as a Labrador or Border collie, will not do well in a small space. Boredom and being stuck inside can result in destructive behaviors like chewing.

Especially large breeds won’t do well in smaller spaces, either. Take an honest look at your main living areas and map out space for a kennel, dog bed, food dishes and toys. You may be better off with a 20-lb. mutt than a Chesapeake Bay retriever.

Communicate with your landlord.

Always talk to your landlord about existing pets when searching for an apartment or before adopting a pet. Some landlords have specific requirements about what size and breeds of dogs are acceptable, and sometimes for legal reasons.  There will most likely be an extra pet deposit for post move out cleaning or any damage your dog might cause.  Whatever you agree upon, read your lease thoroughly before signing.

Keep your dog current on vaccinations and parasite preventives.

This is really important since most apartment complexes have shared outside areas. If children and other people are using the common outside areas, your pet needs to be free of parasites and vaccinated in order to prevent parasitic and infectious diseases. In case someone accuses your dog of biting, proof of vaccination will be paramount.

Consider your neighbors.

Be mindful of the fact that many people will be sharing a small space. A dog that barks constantly will not be well received in an apartment complex. Have a conversation with your veterinarian regarding behavioral training if your dog is a barker. Citronella collars can also be an effective and humane way to prevent barking if used correctly.

Devote time every day to your dog.

A dog that lives in a small space without a fenced yard will require daily leash time, probably more than a few times a day to go to the bathroom and get rid of their energy. Set aside time for activity every day. Leashed walks will be part of your daily routine, even in the rain and snow. Consider having a friend or family member come by to take your dog for a walk and get them out some more.

Socialize and desensitize.

Apartments can be noisy and busy. They are often located in high-traffic areas with lots of other people, passing cars, and other animals.  Don’t assume your dog will be comfortable with all of these new things invading their senses. You should introduce her to these changes slowly and in a safe and calm manner for her to be comfortable.

Prepare for house training.

House training a puppy in an apartment can be challenging, especially if you’re in a high rise. Puppies need to go outside very frequently in order to be trained properly. If you’re on a higher floor, that’s going to mean a lot of elevator trips or some serious stair climbing.  Consider using puppy pad training at first until he can go longer between urination, or consider adopting an older dog that has already been trained.

Owning a dog takes commitment and responsibility regardless of your living situation, and sharing an apartment with your pup will require a little extra planning and consideration. Keeping them happy, healthy, and safe should be your top priority. Once those needs are met, a four-legged roommate can bring daily smiles and pleasure to any apartment dweller.