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How to keep your dog safe outdoors

Learn how to keep your dog safe during outdoor trips all year long, plus tricks for keeping your dog safe in the car.

It’s important to provide your dog with many different kinds of outdoor exercise, but your dog’s safety must always come first.

Warm weather safety tips
If you live in a hot climate or your area gets hot during the dog days of summer, take your pooch out for walks in the early morning or evening so she doesn’t overheat. And never leave your dog unattended in a hot car.

Signs that your dog is too hot include excessive panting, heavier breathing, seeking out shade, digging as if trying to find cooler ground and gummy saliva that whitens the dog’s tongue.

If you’re going on a marathon hike, make sure to bring extra water for your dog, and if there are cacti or nettles underfoot that could sting or prickle the skin, consider booties to protect your dog’s paws.

Choose locations near streams or lakes so your dog can take a dip to cool off, but be mindful of currents, water levels and debris that could injure your animal.

Stay safe in the winter
During the winter months, it’s best to avoid frozen lakes and streams just in case your dog falls through the ice. In colder climates, all breeds, but especially short-haired ones, might need a winter coat and booties to ward off frostbite.

Use common sense to decide whether the temperature is too cold outside and also look for cues from your dog, such as if he is shivering or keeps picking her paws up off the ground. A coat and booties will also protect dogs when the streets are covered in salt and other harsh chemicals, which can wreak havoc with their sensitive paws and underbellies. They’ll also be tempted to lick the salt off, so if your dog doesn’t need a coat and boots to stay warm, prevent her from ingesting these chemicals by rinsing her paws and belly when you get home.

No matter what the climate, when you’re going off-leash, be sure to keep the leash handy in case you come across an aggressive dog or other animals. Be vigilant about everything going on around you, especially if you’re out camping in the wilderness or in big, open spaces.

I once saw an eagle snatch a little dog off a Vancouver beach. That horrifying incident is burned into my brain, and I hope you don’t have to see such a tragedy to appreciate that you have to be watchful of your dog and the surrounding environment at all times.

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