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There’s nothing like spending time outside after being cooped up indoors all winter. The spring and summer months are usually filled with fun day trips to the park, hiking, time at the lake or a camping excursion with your friends. And it’s even better when we get to enjoy some of these activities with our furry companions.

There’s certainly no shortage of things to do, especially if you have an active pet. But there are also dangers that can pose serious risks to our pets. Before you head out to explore the great outdoors, here are a few important reminders to help keep your pet safe.

1. Keep Body Temperature in Check

High temperatures can be dangerous for pets, so it’s important to watch for signs of heat stroke, a serious condition that can result in death if ignored.  Dogs cool themselves off by panting, but if your pet is panting excessively, or seems distressed, weak, or dizzy, they could be suffering from heat stroke. Older and overweight pets, or those who have existing medical conditions, can be especially susceptible.

If your pet is in distress, follow these steps to get their body temperature down, and call your veterinarian to see if you need to take them in. You can help prevent heatstroke by limiting activity when it’s hot outside — especially activities like running or hiking. Save these activities for early morning or late evening, when it’s cooler.

2. Prevent Dehydration

7 Safety Tips to Keep in Mind When Exploring the Outdoors with Your Pets

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Staying hydrated is extremely important, especially during the warmer months and during periods of high activity, so make sure you take plenty of water breaks when you’re outside. Carry a reusable water bottle that can hold enough water for you and your pet. A lightweight, collapsible bowl is convenient and easy to carry.

3. Protect Pets from the Elements  

Paws are sensitive; hot asphalt can cause burns and sharp rocks can result in painful cuts on your pet’s paws. Use caution while you’re out on walks and test the asphalt temperature by placing your hand on it. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for paws. If you do a lot of hiking, protective booties can offer protection from hot and rocky surfaces.

Sunburn is another risk, but it can be prevented by rubbing a bit of pet-friendly sunscreen on sensitive areas like ears and the top of your dog’s nose before heading outdoors. A little spritz on the back is also good if you have a short-haired breed.

4. Be Prepared for Emergencies

Keep a small pet first aid kit in your car or your backpack. A tube of ointment and some vet wrap can come in handy if your pet injures their paw or you need to keep a wound clean until you can get to the vet clinic. Also keep the number for an emergency vet clinic handy, especially if you’re traveling outside of your hometown.

5. Watch Out for Potential Toxins

7 Safety Tips to Keep in Mind When Exploring the Outdoors with Your Pets

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If your dog enjoys swimming, make sure you’re aware of the dangers associated with blue-green algae, which can be found in lakes, streams, and ponds. This bacteria can potentially kill your pet if it’s ingested through drinking contaminated water, or from licking their fur after swimming in a body of water containing the bacteria. Keep your pet away from any water sources with algae on the surface, and always give your pet a good rinse with clean water after a swim.

Also keep an eye on your pet to make sure they don’t ingest anything that could harm them, like mushrooms, plants, and berries. If your pet does ingest something harmful, call a pet poison control hotline for advice.

6. Keep Pests Away

Bugs are more than a nuisance, they can cause some serious medical issues in your pet. Mosquitoes can transmit heartworm disease, and ticks can transmit Lyme’s disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Use a preventative to protect pets, and add an extra layer of protection by using a pet-friendly insect repellent that contains essential oils. If you do find a tick on your pet, remove it immediately, then clean and dry the area.

7. Know the Rules, and Have Fun

7 Safety Tips to Keep in Mind When Exploring the Outdoors with Your Pets

Remember, not all parks and trails are pet-friendly, so make sure you check before heading out. Also, keep an eye on your pet and their body language. If they become tired or agitated, it’s time to head home. And, most importantly, have fun! Spending time outside with your pet is a great way to bond while keeping them (and you) physically and mentally healthy.

Lead image source: pixabay 

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