Summertime requires precautions

May 26, 2004

It feels like summer and most of us have started our summer activities. Just like humans who have to remember the sunscreen, dogs need to be monitored as they work and play these hot, humid days.

The first thing dogs need is clean, cool water at all times. If the water bowl is in the sun, you need to clean the container, change the water and try to find a shady spot where the dog can get a drink and then lie down and rest in the shade.

For those who are now walking, jogging or hiking with your dogs, remember to take water with you for both you and the dogs.

In the beginning, have your dog checked by the veterinarian before starting an exercise program. Do not attempt to take the animal the full distance you hope to cover, especially if you have been exercising on an indoor track during the winter.


Start slowly for the dog, going around a block or two and dropping him off as you pass by your home.

Depending on his age and condition, it may be possible to add a block every three or four days. However, be sure to follow your veterinarian's advice on how much exercise is good for your particular animal.

In some cases, the advice can be "Yard exercise only," which can be disappointing if you were anticipating a companion on your run.

Any dog scheduled for a long walk or jog needs to have his feet checked before leaving.

If your breed has excessively furry paws, you might want to trim the fur between the pads to prevent acorns or small pebbles from becoming embedded. Other objects you should look for are foxtails, burrs and thorns.

You don't want a limping dog to carry back home, so a quick preventive check is in order.

Check the animal's nails. If they need trimming, do so before you start out.

Better yet, trim the nails the night before so the dog is accustomed to the feel of the short nails by the time you start out.

If the nails are splitting, have your veterinarian look at them. It might be a fungus infection and require medical treatment. Fungus infections can be difficult to cure.

I know of one case that took two years to control and eliminate.

If your dog is constantly licking and chewing on his feet, he should not start an exercise program. Itchy feet would make the dog miserable and discourage him from joining you on a run even after the cause is eliminated.

Check for cuts, scrapes or bruises on the feet. These should be treated before asking the dog to exercise.

My first show dog was extremely susceptible to fungus of the foot and developed large swellings on the top of the foot after each show.

By dipping her paws in an antifungal liniment as soon as she got home, I eliminated the infection. |3/16/04|***

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