How To Plan And Protect Your Dog After You’re Gone


Dogs offer their unconditional love, companionship, and loyalty. They enhance our lives in so many ways and ask so little in return. And yet, they’re completely dependent on us to provide for their well-being and basic needs.

During our pets’ lives, we do all we can to ensure that these needs are met. But have you thought about what would happen if you were no longer there to provide for these needs? It may be uncomfortable, but it’s important to think about pet care after your death.

Unfortunately, many pets are surrendered to animal shelters when their loving owners pass away. That’s why taking the time to plan for your pet in the event of a serious illness or death is one of the necessities of responsible dog ownership.

So, what kinds of plans and considerations should you have in place to make sure your canine companion is cared for if something were to happen to you? Whether your situation is temporary or will require permanent rehoming, this guide will make sure you have your pet’s bases covered.

Immediate Care Needs

It’s important that you have a plan in place for immediate care in the event of an accident or sudden hospitalization. Many of us have family members who are willing to step in as a long-term guardian for our pet. However, they may need time to travel or make other arrangements in order to take over caregiving responsibilities.

If a boarding situation is likely, it’s wise to plan for that in advance.

It’s also important to have a plan for someone that has access to your residence who will be aware of your health situation and be able to step in immediately to meet the basic short-term needs of your canine companion.

Keep a list of all of your pets along with the contact information for your emergency pet guardian in your wallet. Be sure your close friends, vet, and relatives also have this vital information.

Your immediate care person needs to be prepared with the following:

  • Access to your home or residence (key and/or security codes)
  • Information on care including appropriate food (including amounts), treats and medications
  • Veterinary contact information
  • Up-to-date records
  • Contact information for a permanent caregiver that you’ve arranged in advance
  • Contact information for pet sitting and/or dog boarding services that you may use
  • Money for short-term expenses such as food or supplements

If you don’t know anyone that is willing or able to take immediate action in the event that your dog should need emergency short-term care, you may want to consider doing some research on your local dog kennel options.

In The Event Of An Emergency

Most communities have dog boarding services. In fact, some vets offer this service as well (although often at much higher rates). These days, dogs often enjoy the company of supervised play with other pooches for a fun-filled day of frolicking at summer camp style doggy daycare facilities across the nation.

Sometimes situations can change, so having a primary and a backup plan is a good idea.

What you need to be aware of, however, is that these facilities often require meeting prospective visitors in advance of an overnight stay.

In addition, they may require specific vaccines, such as Bordetella, that your dog may not have. Look for a facility that won’t pressure you into doing anything you’re not comfortable with.

If a boarding situation is likely, it’s wise to plan for that in advance. Schedule an appointment to tour the facilities and get your dog onboarded into their system. Make sure they’re ok with what you feed and will stick to it (ie if you feed raw, make sure they’ll follow that).

Let friends and family know which service you decide to use so they know what to do in the event of an emergency.

Of course, even if you arrange for emergency boarding in advance, be sure you have informed someone that will be in the loop who can make the necessary arrangements, including transport. It’s wise to also make sure they will have the funds necessary to cover the boarding expenses until your permanent caregiver is able to take over.

Keep Pets Safe in the Heat

  Watch the humidity The summer months can be uncomfortable—even dangerous—for pets and people. It’s difficult  enough simply to cope with rising temperatures, let alone thick humidity, but things really get tough in  areas that are hit with the double blow of intense heat and storm-caused power outages, sometimes  with tragic results.

We can help you keep your pets safe and cool this summer. Follow our tips for helping everyone in  your family stay healthy and comfortable when the heat is on (and even if the power isn’t).

Practice basic summer safety
Never leave your pets in a parked car
Not even for a minute. Not even with the car running and air conditioner on. On a warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise rapidly to dangerous levels. On an 85-degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car with the windows opened slightly can reach 102 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, the temperature will reach 120 degrees.Your pet may suffer irreversible organ damage or die. Learn how to help a pet left inside a hot car by taking action or calling for help. Local law enforcement can follow this handy guide for how to proceed.
“It’s important to remember that it’s not just the ambient temperature but also the humidity that can affect your pet,” says Dr. Barry Kellogg, VMD, of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association. “Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves, and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels—very quickly.”

Taking a dog’s temperature will quickly tell you if there is a serious problem. Dogs’ temperatures should not be allowed to get over 104 degrees. If your dog’s temperature does, follow the instructions below for treating heat stroke.

Limit exercise on hot days
Take care when exercising your pet. Adjust intensity and duration of exercise in accordance with the temperature. On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours, and be especially careful with pets with white-colored ears, who are more susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed pets, who typically have difficulty breathing. Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible. Always carry water with you to keep your dog from dehydrating.

Don’t rely on a fan
Pets respond differently to heat than humans do. (Dogs, for instance, sweat primarily through their feet.) And fans don’t cool off pets as effectively as they do people.

Provide ample shade and water
Any time your pet is outside, make sure he or she has protection from heat and sun and plenty of fresh, cold water. In heat waves, add ice to water when possible. Tree shade and tarps are ideal because they don’t obstruct air flow. A doghouse does not provide relief from heat—in fact, it makes it worse.

Cool your pet inside and out
Whip up a batch of quick and easy DIY peanut butter popsicles for dogs. (You can use peanut butter or another favorite food.) And always provide water, whether your pets are inside or out with you.

Keep your pet from overheating indoors or out with a cooling body wrap, vest, or mat (such as the Keep Cool Mat). Soak these products in cool water, and they’ll stay cool (but usually dry) for up to three days. If your dog doesn’t find baths stressful, see if she enjoys a cooling soak.
Watch for signs of heatstroke
Extreme temperatures can cause heatstroke. Some signs of heatstroke are heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness.

Animals are at particular risk for heat stroke if they are very old, very young, overweight, not conditioned to prolonged exercise, or have heart or respiratory disease. Some breeds of dogs—like boxers, pugs, shih tzus, and other dogs and cats with short muzzles—will have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat.

How to treat a pet suffering from heatstroke
Move your pet into the shade or an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to her head, neck, and chest or run cool (not cold) water over her. Let her drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes. Take her directly to a veterinarian.

All You Need to Know about Exercising Your Dog

Dogs make the best pets! They are adorable, fun, loving, and above all, reciprocate our feelings like no other animal. They keep you company day and night, miss you while you’re away and welcome you with so much love when you are back.

Who wouldn’t want to adopt a dog? These are probably the exact reasons why you brought home a dog too. But have you ever thought if the dog you purchased is suited to your lifestyle?

Many people just buy a dog because they like a particular breed or fell in love with a puppy at first sight. However, one should always adopt a dog considering one’s lifestyle. That’s because dogs have needs too. And if you won’t be able to fulfill them, your beloved pet could fall sick.

Of course, dogs don’t demand much. Apart from vet visits, good food, clean water and a cozy shelter, a dog only needs petting and exercise. While you may be petting your dog enough, it might not be getting adequate exercise.

Why Do Dogs Need Exercise?

Just as exercising is beneficial to humans, it is important to animals too. As animals generally don’t have much to do, they can easily gain weight. Exercising helps in maintaining body weight, and increasing bone strength and muscle tone. Dogs also love socializing. Playing active games with your dog or taking him on walks will create a better bond between the two of you.

Moreover, dogs are very active by nature. If you don’t play with your dog or engage him in activity, the pent up energy may lead to behavioral problems. Your dog may end up digging huge holes in your backyard or it may even chew through your favorite furniture.

Most dogs have a lifespan of 10- 15 years. As a dog grows old, one needs to take greater care of its health and needs. Exercising regularly will give your pet the strength it needs to endure the later years of its life easily.

How Much Exercise Does My Dog Need?

Every dog is an individual. Exercise needs vary depending on the age, weight and the breed of the dog. Younger dogs require more exercise than older ones and sporting breeds require more exercise than lapdogs.

The amount of exercise your dog needs also depends on its temperament. As mentioned, if you find your dog behaving oddly, it could well be because it isn’t being exercised enough. For most dogs, a daily 20 minute walk is usually recommended.

Simply letting your dog out in the garden or backyard won’t be of much help. As dogs prefer human companionship, they are unlikely to exercise and run about on their own. Swimming is a great exercise for dogs that aren’t afraid of water and can swim.

How Do I Get My Dog to Exercise at Home?

If you are unable to go out much or dislike doing so, you can try many something at home. Dogs need their minds to be exercised as well. If possible, you can build a maze in a little space inside the house or backyard.

Other mind games would be hiding his favorite toy and making him look for it. You can also hide treats for him to find out by himself. You can hide a treat under his food bowl. Seeing him trying to upturn the click bowl to get to the treat will amuse you.

If you have a backyard or a garden, you can play retrieving games with your dog. As he runs and jumps about to catch an object and bring it back to you, he will get enough exercise. You may wish to set up an inflatable pool for your pet if it likes to swim.

Things to Keep in Mind

Pets need to be taken care of so that they don’t harm themselves while exercising. Warm up and cool down exercises are as necessary for your dog as they are for you. One also needs to make sure that the pet isn’t being over-exercised.

Dogs dissipate heat by panting their tongue as they do not have sweat glands. Over-exercising not only tires out dogs but also makes it difficult for them to control their body temperature. If your dog swims, never allow it to swim unsupervised. Using a dog life jacket is recommended for even the most skilled swimmers.

Do make sure that the terrain you’re exercising your dog on isn’t too harsh. Dog paws are made of bone, ligaments, tendons, connective tissue and skin. The skin on a dog’s paws hardens over time but that doesn’t make the paws hard as steel.

Exercising your dog in the afternoon during the summer months may lead to formation of blisters, rashes and other paw-related problems. Take your dog out only in the mornings or early evenings in the hot months. Exercising on hard terrain during winters may lead to frostbite. Don’t walk your dog on roads and pavements for too long in the cold months.

If you have a concrete or pebbled terrain in your garden or backyard, consider getting a synthetic turf. This will create a soft base for your dog to play on. With an artificial turf, you won’t have to sweat it out to mow the grass or maintain the look of your garden. Your dog won’t get much dirty either.


Care for your dog just as you would care for yourself. Adopting a dog means making a long-term commitment to it for at least 15 years. Keeping a dog also means having to shell out a lot more money than you‘d suspect for its food, vaccination, and more. As such, one must think carefully before adopting a dog. If you don’t think you can commit to a dog for that long, you can always adopt a grown-up dog instead of a pup.

21 Ways To Keep Pets Safe All Summer

Your Pet’s Summer Fun Safety Guide

Warm weather presents a host of perils for your pets. Here’s how to prevent injuries and illness.

Higher temperatures may translate into more time spent outdoors, but for pet owners, they can also mean more visits to the veterinarian. “In the summer, we see more skin and ear infections and an increase in injuries overall,” says Sandra Sawchuk, DVM, at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Here’s how to protect your pet during the warmer months:

Use Sunscreen, Please!

  • Shield delicate skin. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in dogs and second most common in cats. Even though fur provides some protection from the sun, you should apply a pet sunblock every 3 to 4 hours to the least hair-covered spots: bellies on dogs (especially ones who like to lie on their backs) and ears and around eyes on cats, which are also areas where malignant tumors are likely to show up. (No need to apply sunscreen directly on fur.) Use products made specifically for pets, such as Epi-Pet Sun Protector Sunscreen ($18;, which is safe for dogs—ingredients such as zinc oxide can be toxic to pets.
  • Keep coats long. While it may seem logical to cut your pet’s coat short, resist the urge. “If hair—even long hair—is brushed and not matted, it provides better circulation and helps her regulate her body temperature,” says Rene Carlson, DVM, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association. (Check out these three tips for grooming pets at home.)
  • Soothe burns safely. If your pet does get burned, apply a thin layer of pure aloe vera twice daily to soothe the irritated area. (Check the brand with your vet first, for pet safety.)

Play It Cool

  • Walk with caution. Don’t walk your dog during the day’s highest heat and humidity, which is usually between 1 and 4 PM. This is especially important for dogs with short snouts, such as bulldogs, who can’t pant as efficiently in humid weather due to their narrowed nostrils and windpipes.
  • Never leave her in the car. Even if windows are cracked, the interior temp can rise by 19°F in as little as 7 minutes. On a hot day, this can be deadly. (Check out this simple guide to driving with dogs.)
  • Look out for heat exhaustion. If your dog shows signs of heat stress—heavy panting, dry or bright red gums, thick drool, vomiting, diarrhea, or wobbly legs—don’t place her in ice cold water, which can put her into shock. Instead, move her to a cool place, drape a damp towel over her body, rewetting the cloth frequently, and get her to the vet as soon as you possibly can. A dog’s normal temperature is between 100° and 103°F, so once she hits 104°F, she’s in dangerous territory (106°F or higher can be fatal).
  • Keep it cool indoors. Turn on the AC in your home, especially if you’ll be out of the house for several hours. If it’s too warm for you, it’s too warm for your pet.


Happy dog in front of a swimming pool

Hot weather can make us all uncomfortable, and it poses special risks for your dog. Keep the following safety concerns in mind as the temperature rises, and follow our tips to keep your dog cool.

Heat Hazards

If your dog is outside on a hot day, make sure he has a shady spot to rest in. Doghouses are not good shelter during the summer as they can trap heat. You may want to fill a child’s wading pool with fresh water for your dog to cool off in.

Never leave your dog in a closed vehicle on a hot day. The temperature inside a car can rise to over 100 degrees in a matter of minutes.

Always provide plenty of cool, fresh water.

Avoid strenuous exercise on extremely hot days. Take walks in the early mornings or evenings, when the sun’s heat is less intense.

Try to avoid prolonged exposure to hot asphalt or sand, which can burn your dog’s paws.

Dogs that are brachycephalic (short-faced), such as Bulldogs, Boxers, Japanese Chins, and Pekingese, have an especially hard time in the heat because they do not pant as efficiently as longer-faced dogs. Keep your brachycephalic dog inside with air-conditioning.

General Health

Make sure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date, especially since dogs tend to stay outdoors longer and come into contact with other animals more during the summer months.

Keep dogs off of lawns that have been chemically treated or fertilized for 24 hours (or according to package instructions), and away from potentially toxic plants and flowers.

Keep your dog well-brushed and clean.

Fleas and ticks, and the mosquitos which carry heartworm disease, are more prevalent in warmer months. Ask your veterinarian for an effective preventive to keep these parasites off your dog. The AKC Pet Healthcare Plan can help with the cost of providing quality healthcare, including preventive medicine, throughout your dog’s life.

Beach Tips

Make sure your dog has a shady spot to rest in and plenty of fresh water.

Dogs, especially those with short hair, white fur, and pink skin, can sunburn. Limit your dog’s exposure during the day and apply sunblock to his ears and nose 30 minutes before going outside.

Check with a lifeguard for daily water conditions. Dogs are easy targets for sea lice and jellyfish.

Running on the sand is strenuous exercise. A dog that is out of shape can easily pull a tendon or ligament, so keep a check on your dog’s activity.

Do not let your dog drink seawater; the salt will make him sick.

Salt and other minerals in ocean water can damage your dog’s coat, so rinse him off at the end of the day.

Not all beaches permit dogs; check local ordinances before heading out.

Water Safety

Most dogs enjoy swimming, but some cannot swim, and others may hate the water. Be conscious of your dog’s preferences and skills before trying to make him swim.

If you’re swimming for the first time with your dog, start in shallow water and coax him in by calling his name. Encourage him with toys or treats. Or, let him follow another experienced dog he is friendly with.

Never throw your dog into the water.

If your dog begins to paddle with his front legs, lift his hind legs and help him float. He should quickly catch on and keep his back end up.

Don’t let your dog overdo it; swimming is very hard work and he may tire quickly.

If swimming at the ocean, be careful of strong tides.

If you have your own pool, make sure your dog knows where the stairs or ladder are located. Be sure that pool covers are firmly in place; dogs have been known to slip in under openings in the covers and drown.

Never leave your dog unattended in water.


By Air – Many airlines will not ship animals during summer months due to dangers caused by hot weather. Some will only allow dogs to fly in the early morning or in the evening. Check with your airlines for specific rules.

If you do ship a dog, put icepacks or an ice blanket in the dog’s crate. (Two-liter soft drink bottles filled with water and frozen work well.) Provide a container of fresh water, as well as a container of frozen water that will thaw over the course of the trip.

By Car – Keep your dog cool in the car by putting icepacks in his crate. Make sure the crate is well ventilated.

Put a sunshade on your car windows.

Bring along fresh water and a bowl, and a tarp or tent so you can set up a shady spot when you stop. Keep a spray bottle filled with water to spritz on your dog to cool him down.

By RV – A dog’s safety should not depend on the air conditioning and generator systems in an RV or motor home. These devices can malfunction, with tragic results.

If you leave your dog in an RV with the generator running, check it often or have a neighbor monitor it. Some manufacturers have devices that will notify you if the generator should malfunction.

Never leave an RV or motor home completely shut up, even if the generator and AC are running. Crack a window or door or run the exhaust fan.

Never, ever leave a dog unattended in a vehicle in the summer months. Heatstroke and death can occur within minutes in warm temperatures.


Heatstroke can be the serious and often fatal result of a dog’s prolonged exposure to excessive heat. Below are the signs of heatstroke and the actions you should take if your dog is overcome.

Early Stages:

  • Heavy panting.
  • Rapid breathing.
  • Excessive drooling.
  • Bright red gums and tongue.
  • Standing 4-square, posting or spreading out in an attempt to maintain balance.

Advanced Stages:

  • White or blue gums.
  • Lethargy, unwillingness to move.
  • Uncontrollable urination or defecation.
  • Labored, noisy breathing.
  • Shock.

If your dog begins to exhibit signs of heatstroke, you should immediately try to cool the dog down:

  • Apply rubbing alcohol to the dog’s paw pads.
  • Apply ice packs to the groin area.
  • Hose down with water.
  • Allow the dog to lick ice chips or drink a small amount of water.
  • Offer Pedialyte to restore electrolytes.

Check your dog’s temperature regularly during this process. Once the dog’s temperature has stabilized at between 100 to 102 degrees, you can stop the cool-down process.

If you cannot get the dog cooled down and you begin to see signs of advanced heatstroke, take the dog to the veterinarian immediately.