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Summer Time . . . and the Dog is . . . Broken

Summer Troubles for Dogs

Jackson at the beach

Some interesting things happen to happy, fun-loving dogs in the summer on Nantucket that aren’t so fun. Here are a few to be aware of as the season of fun approaches:

Swimmers Tail. Dogs not used to swimming can literally sprain their tail after a day of swimming! You will notice either a limp tail, or excessive pain at the base of the tail. It hurts! It will need some pain medication from your veterinarian. To avoid this, slowly build up the time your dog spends swimming.

Salty Paws. Dogs who aren't used to a day of playing ball and digging in the sand can get interdigital dermatitis (inflamed skin and irritation in between the toes). To avoid this, rinse off the feet at the end of a long beach adventure and check the bottoms of their feet at night to look for red rawness. If you see this, make sure they skip the beach for a day or two, and if the inflammation persists, see your vet.

Swallowing Salt Water. A thirsty dog WILL drink salt water. And, trust me, it’s not going to end well. Dogs can vomit, dehydrate or get something known as “beach diarrhea.” To avoid this, be sure to bring plenty of fresh water for your dog.

Eating Sand. Dogs can and will eat sand at the beach (usually because it is surrounding a 2-day old turkey sandwich crust that someone has left behind), but unless your dog has other troubling physical symptoms, it’s usually not something to worry about. You’ll see it come out the other end the following day.

Fireworks. More dogs run off on the fourth of July and end up in “the pound” than on any other day. To avoid this, be sure your dog is good and tired out, and then create a safe haven—in his or her favorite room with you or in a crate with the best chew toy in the line up, if your dog is crate-trained (don’t, however, use the 4th of July as the night to START crate-training your dog). For lots more tips on helping with fireworks fear, go here

Hot Cars. Dogs die in hot cars. As horrible as this is, even more tragic is the fact that this is 100% preventable. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it takes only 10 minutes for the temperature in a car to go up 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Cracking a window open and parking in the shade aren’t sufficient to cool it down. Even at 70 degrees outside, the heat inside a car is deadly. Unlike humans, dogs cannot sweat to cool themselves down and they quickly succumb to heat stroke. To avoid this, leave your dog at home. Run your errands and then come home, leash up the dogs and head out for a fun walk together. This may seem inconvenient, but when compared to losing your beloved pet, it’s a breeze! For some great ideas on where to walk your dog on Nantucket, including a few with swimming spots, check out:

A Dog’s Life, Nantucket, explores the many dog (and other animal)-related issues on Nantucket. Stephanie Henke co-founded Nantucket Safe Harbor for Animals and created and manages Nantucket Dog Walk, a website dedicated to the many glorious dog walks on Nantucket.