Sunday, June 13, 2010

Explore on all fours!! Summertime Safety and Fun!

Whether you choose to visit the beach, desert or mountains there is a vast selection of pet-friendly places in San Diego. For a nice breakfast with your pooch visit St. Germain’s Cafe in Encinitas ( . They also offer a festive Yappy Hour on Friday and Saturdays through the summer months. Fiesta island and Del Mar offer dog friendly beach areas. Leash laws at Del Mar dog beaches vary throughout the year so be sure to read the signs. If you feel like grabbing some pizza and a micro brew after a long hike or jog along the boardwalk swing by Pizza Port in Carlsbad ( ) to enjoy their dog-friendly patio. Rancho Coastal Humane Society in Encinitas has Cricket’s Corner, a quaint dog park attached to their grounds. Dexter’s Deli ( sells all the supplies you’ll need for your adventure and welcomes dogs of all sizes to shop with you. One of my favorite areas to walk is along the San Elijo Lagoon in Solana Beach ( There are more than 7 miles of trails available. Out east is another great spot: Mission Trails Regional Park. Cuyamaca Rancho State Park allows dogs on their trails as well as camping and fishing.

Once you decide on your destination, be sure to always plan for the unexpected. There are always a few things to keep in mind. The morning may start off foggy and cool but San Diego often warms up quickly. Always be prepared. First remember to bring water for both you and your dog. I prefer the collapsible bowls since they are easy to carry. You can purchase one at any local pet store. Water will help prevent overheating.

Remember! Dogs don’t sweat. We may have plenty of ways to cool our bodies down on a hot day however dogs rely on just two. Their skin and armpits don’t contain sweat glands like ours do. They perspire through their paw pads. Their main way to cool down, however, is by panting. Since they have fewer ways to release heat from their bodies it becomes more important for us to pay attention to the potential of heat stroke.


  • Hot skin
  • Salivation
  • Exaggerated panting
  • Sudden stop of panting
  • Rapid or erratic pulse
  • Anxious or dazed, staring expression
  • Weakness
  • Twitching muscles
  • Lack of coordination
  • Blue or red tongue / lips
  • Vomiting
  • Convulsions or Collapse


  • Move to a cool, shady place
  • Wet dog with cool, not icy water
  • Leave airways unobstructed
  • Do not apply ice
  • Fan vigorously to promote evaporation
  • Allow cool water, ice cream


There are several ways to help your dog avoid over-heating during these hot summer months. Be alert to your dog’s excessive panting when it’s combined with high temperatures and excessive exercise. Recognize how far his tongue hangs out during your workout. Be sure to take several mini breaks if you notice his tongue hanging more than halfway out of his mouth as this can be a beginning sign of over exertion. Don’t forget to stay hydrated.

Temperatures on pavement can rise up to 150 degrees which can be quite painful on the paw pads. Would you walk barefoot on 150 degree blacktop? If you answered no, your dog would probably say the same if he could speak! Recognize whether or not your dog begins to pick up his paws more quickly as it can be a sign that the footing has become too hot. Consider purchasing paw protectors for your dog in case the ground gets too hot or is covered with burrs or foxtails. Help prevent your dog’s paws from possibly getting sore, cut or burned. Lastly, plan your excursions, walks and hikes during the early morning hours or just prior to sunset when the temperatures are lower.

When you choose hiking be sure you read all signs before entering the trail. Some national and state parks don’t permit dogs. Always keep a leash with you and ideally hooked to your dog. Even if you believe your dog is reliable off leash a leash is the tool you will need to prevent your dog from chasing wildlife, other dogs, hikers etc. Remember in San Diego county there is a leash law. If you walk or otherwise bring a dog to public or other private property (where dogs are permitted), you must restrain the dog by a hand held leash (not longer than 6 feet in length) (SDCC Sections 62.669[a], 62.601[d], and 62.601[y]), unless otherwise specified by signs. Retractable leashes are considered to be longer than 6 feet even if they are set to 6 feet or less. You will be subject to ticketing and fines for using one, in addition to being caught breaking the above county code sections. Don’t assume just because your dog is safe off-leash that all other dogs and owners will be too!

Please be a responsible dog owner and pick up after your dogs. Not all dog parks, beaches and trails have doggy bag dispensers. If they do, don’t count on them being stocked. Whatever you decide to do, have fun and make it enjoyable for your dog! Any excursion you take your dog on is a great opportunity to train. Take note when they recognize a new distraction or object and praise them with a scooby-snack or a good dog! They’ll need a chance to take in a snack just as you will and working on some behaviors you like as others pass by you is a great opportunity to train and treat. Have fun and keep it pawsitive!