Summer walks: Cathy's tips!

How to get the most out of your walks this Summer

Summer is the perfect time to grab your pets and head out into the fresh air for an adventure, but are you properly prepared? Do you know what potential dangers lie in wait? Are you equipped to make sure that the walk is great for you and your pet as well as your fellow pet owners out there? Cape Town pet health consultant, Cathy Samuel, was asked to give us her best Summer Walking Tips for pets - this is what she said...

Cathy calls this the 'Summer walking checklist'...

1. Preparation
Cathy says: "At home we keep all walking 'props' in a basket near the door. This means that when it's time for us all to go out for 'walkies' everything I need is right there and ready. This also helps prevent Holly and Silky mistakenly thinking it's walk time when I tidy up, as the lead is never anywhere else other than at the front door so I never pick it up by mistake. Keep all toys used for tossing in parks in the basket as well as a clean 'poop scoop' and packet, your sun hat, SPF (for pets with pale noses and yourself) and water bottle to fill before you go (take a bowl along too). Always take a cell phone for emergencies, even if you set it to ring silently. (If you're not sure what qualifies as a pet emergency, read our helpful article here). I also take PetCalm with us without fail, Silky tends to be a bit nervous and I never know what may happen out there and I like to be able to keep my pets calm if they get distressed."
HAVE A QUESTION about your pet?
Mail Cathy FREE of charge for advice, click here.

2. The Route
Cathy says: "For a dog, a good walk is like reading the newspaper. If you can, choose a varied route: not too many hills, but varied textures (Holly loves to sample grass, gravel, sand). A route where other dogs are walking is even better - like the comics section of the paper! If there is an area where dogs are allowed off of a lead, and your dog is properly trained to take commands to stop and come to you, then let him run free for a set period, but never out of sight. I always watch my pets for signs of de-hydration and over-excitement. Make sure you have a few stops preferably under a shady tree and offer your dog water frequently. Remember that dogs will only drink once their temperature drops. If you have any pets with joint problems, opt for flat grassed fields, and avoid any hills, stairs or wet surfaces. For some great tips on joint health, read our article on animal arthritis here. If you have a pet with joint issues he should be on Muscle and Joint Support full-time. Please also use reason when it comes to the breed - a bulldog will not cope with walking up a mountain, neither will a small Yorkie manage a 5km trail run, so if in doubt ask your vet or research online."
HAVE A QUESTION about your pet?
Mail Cathy FREE of charge for advice, click here.

3. Read your pet's body language!
Cathy says: "While on the walk, let your dog pause and have a good sniff around, Silky does not respond well to being prompted, so I let her investigate as long as she likes to before she decides it's time for us to move on. Never pull or yank the lead, I find if I wait until she takes the lead, she will soon settle and realise that she needn't rush and can take her time. This makes it enjoyable for both of us! I also watch out for signals that my dogs are unhappy - tails tucked under, or skittish behaviour. If your animals are not good with other dogs, do not feel pressured to make them mingle and rather cross the road to avoid confrontation. Similarly if your pets look uncomfortable around children, tell fellow pet owners that your animals are not keen on social interaction. Remember that it's better to be frank and avoid a bad situation. If you have a particular pet who is always jumping up on strangers or barking while on a walk, try PetCalm, its a great remedy to use in a pinch. I have to watch Holly as she often tries to chase squirrels - which is not very fair on the squirrels as they are also just trying to enjoy the park!"
HAVE A QUESTION about your pet?
Mail Cathy FREE of charge for advice, click here.

4. Potential Dangers
Cathy says: "It's your job to look out for anything that can pose a danger to your pet while out on a walk. Look out for glass in the streets and avoid areas of dry grass - grass seeds are a hazard which can become embedded between the toes. At the park, I look out for any discarded picnic remnants that may be dangerous - Holly and Silky have been known to find discarded chicken and chop bones (which I'm sure they would love to eat), but I do not allow them to eat these bones as they are severe choking hazards. Nettles and certain plants can cause stings and abrasions, so I take a bottle ofClenzor (a natural antiseptic) to clean superficial wounds as they happen. As I mentioned, never let your dog run off un-attended, many fallen trees contain bee or wasps nests and if you're on a mountain walks, snakes cannot be ruled out either. At the beach look out for blue bottles and washed up jelly fish (rare, but tempting for a dog to investigate) as well as driftwood that dogs may gnaw at at get splinters. If we travel in the car, Silky always takes a few pinches of Easy-Travel Solution so that she doesn't get car sick."
For the top 5 Summer dangers for pets, click here to read the article.
HAVE A QUESTION about your pet?
Mail Cathy FREE of charge for advice, click here.

5. Home cool-down and check
Cathy says: "I always finish up any walk time at home with a thorough check of all my animals. Check your pet's ears and body for ticks if you have been in high grass. Check for any injuries sustained while out, and clear any dirt and debris from his eyes (I do this with a soothing wipe of Eye-Heal on a cotton swab which Holly loves. Silky lets me do it occasionally depending on her mood!). Lastly, check under the paw-pads for any embedded debris and if you really want to treat your pet, massage some Paw-Paw protect for added pampering after a hot day out. Give them time to wind down, in a quiet spot and tell your kids not bother them for a while, letting them wind down and process after an adventure day outside."
HAVE A QUESTION about your pet?
Mail Cathy FREE of charge for advice, click here.

Cathy Samuel is a resident pet health consultant for Feelgood Pets PetAlive and has many years experience lending her advice to pet owners across South Africa , featuring on the local radio from time to time to answer phone-in questions from listeners. She currently lives in Cape Town with her husband and two furry kids - Holly and Silky. *This article is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition, nor replace any advice or a consultation with your vet. If you are concerned, please speak with your vet.

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