Principal Vet at PDSA, Dr Paul Manktelow, is DogLife360's resident vet and is nominated for a 2021 Naturo SuperDog Award. Well known for his regular TV appearances, Dr Paul has worked for 20 years on the front line in some of the busiest veterinary hospitals and has made it his mission to improve the welfare of dogs in the UK.
Watch him give us some pointers to prepare us for this post lockdown summer with our dogs.
With it being likely that holidays abroad will continue to be restricted this year, it looks like many Brits will be looking to explore home turf. For many dog owners, taking a break on UK soil will provide the opportunity to holiday with their furry friend for the first time. With an abundance of fantastic dog-friendly destinations like the Big Dog Walk Series and DogFest this will certainly make for a holiday to remember with your canine companion.
Tips on holidaying safely with your dog
There are plenty of beautiful holiday spots in the UK where you will undoubtedly have a fantastic trip with your dog, however, there are some important things to remember in order to keep you both safe.
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The UK isn’t exactly known to have the warmest climate, but it certainly can have its fair share of hot weather and we definitely experience a heatwave or two.
Never walk your dog during peak warm weather, dawn and dusk are the best times for a dog walk when it is set to be a hot day. Always ensure there is plenty of shade or indoor access available and that you regularly provide lots of fresh water.
Don't let leave your dog in a car on a hot day. In just a few minutes this can lead to heatstroke and in just 20 minutes could lead to death.
It is important to remember that some breeds struggle more than others in hot weather. Brachycephalic dogs, such as Pugs or French Bulldogs, and dogs with dense coats that are designed for colder climates such as Huskies or Chow-Chows will be at higher risks of heatstroke, so it is important to be mindful of their heightened susceptibility.
Sunscreen is for dogs too. A pet-safe sunscreen is just as important to dogs as it is to their human owners. Always apply the cream to exposed or white areas of skin, ear tips, and the nose to prevent any nasty sunburn on hot days.
Pavements can burn! On very hot days pavements can reach scaldingly hot temperatures which can be up to 60 degrees hotter than the air temperature. Heat can injure and burn your dog's paw pads quite seriously. If you cannot keep your bare hand on the pavement for at least 7 seconds it is too hot for your dog to walk on.
Dog Friendly? Some beaches are truly dog friendly and allow dogs off lead all year round, however, some have seasonal restrictions or don’t allow for dogs in certain areas and others don’t allow off lead walking at all. Always check prior to heading out to avoid disappointment, there are many online resources that will inform you of your chosen destinations policy.
Sea swimming! Swimming is a great form of exercise and enjoyment for many dogs but not all dogs are strong or capable swimmers. If your dog has never experienced open water before the sea is probably not the best place to start. Even if your dog is a strong swimmer the sea can be unpredictable and present hidden dangers.
Always check that there are no warning flags or signs suggesting the sea is too rough for swimming. Warning signs look like white circles with a red line running through them or red flags also indicate danger. Cold seawater can also make swimming harder for our dogs so if the weather is inclement think carefully before letting your dog into the water. Doggy life jackets are always a good idea when going into the sea as even the most experienced water dogs can get tired and into trouble quickly.
Tides. It is important to check tidal times, especially if you are visiting remote sections of the coast that could get quickly cut off by an incoming tide.
Seawater! It is very important to keep your dog well hydrated with fresh water to avoid them drinking seawater. Seawater is extremely salty and can cause nasty sickness and diarrhoea if a large amount is ingested. After being in the sea be sure to rinse your dog well with fresh water as this salt can cling to the fur and make sure you also gently rinse around their ears afterward to prevent any nasty ear infections.
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Lakes, ponds and reservoirs
Not all bodies of open water are safe for swimming or drinking from. Always check for signage that warns blue-green algae might be present as sadly ingestion and exposure to the harmful toxins this algae produces can stop your dog’s liver from functioning and sadly quite often be fatal.
Not all types of blue-green algae are dangerous, but it can be very hard to tell as it cannot always easily be identified by the naked eye. It is most commonly, but not exclusively, found in non-flowing fresh water such as lakes and ponds during warmer weather. It can look like green flakes, green-coloured bundles, or brown dots.
When the algae bloom, it can look like a blue-green scum has appeared on the surface of the water. It sometimes looks a bit like pea soup.
If you are ever uncertain it is always best to keep your dog away and if you are worried your dog has been exposed, then contact the nearest local vets for help and advice.
Fields a plenty!
When walking in the countryside it is important to always abide by the countryside code.
On Open Access land and at the coast, you must put your dog on a lead around livestock. Between 1 March and 31 July, you must have your dog on a lead on Open Access land, even if there is no livestock on the land. These are legal requirements, so it's good to know how to manage your dog around wildlife.
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However, according to the code, you should let your dog off the lead if you feel threatened by livestock or horses. Do not risk getting hurt protecting your dog. Releasing your dog will make it easier for you both to reach safety.
Always ensure you pick up the poop! If your dog is not wormed regularly their poop can harbour dangerous parasites which if eaten by livestock can cause very serious illness.
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Where can you stay with your dog?
Thankfully there are plenty of dog-friendly accommodations across the UK and lots of online sites that provide access and information on dog-friendly camping sites, holiday homes, B&B’s and hotels. I would always recommend bringing along some of your dog’s familiar bedding, their usual diet and their food and water bowls. Providing a bit of familiarity will help relax your dog in a new environment.
Quite often drastic changes in routine can cause agitation and anxiety so when holidaying try to keep to your dog’s usual routine as much as possible. This includes sticking to their usual mealtimes and walking at the same time of day where it is safe to do so. Don’t be tempted to feed your dog lots of new foods or treats, it's good to know what is safe to feed your dog as you run the risk of inadvertently giving your dog an upset tum.
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Importance of preventive health care
Just as it is important to be fully vaccinated to go abroad, it is equally as important your dog is fully vaccinated against preventable disease here in the UK. It's good to know all about vaccines. Whilst rabies is not prevalent in the UK other preventable diseases are and it is not impossible for your dog to contract one of these serious illnesses whilst on holiday.
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It is also important to regularly provide your dog with protection against parasites such as worms, fleas, and ticks. Remember that certain parasites (e.g. ticks) are more prevalent in certain areas so speak to your vet before you travel to make sure you are covered for everything. Many illnesses are transmitted via these nasty little parasites and by protecting your dog you will not only be looking after them but also those around them. A good tick prevention is to groom your dog as soon as you get back from a walk, 3 minutes a day makes all the difference.
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