Dog Days of Summer: The Family Pooch Brings Us Joy – Plus So Much More

They might be known as man’s best friend, but there are many reasons dogs make great pets for all members of the family. 

The Ultimate Playmate 

Every child at some point probably begs for a dog. While parents may be worried about the added responsibility and expense, a dog can provide your child with endless hours of entertainment and companionship. Want to keep the kids away from screens? Taking their favourite playmate to the park for a game of fetch may just be the way.

Teach Responsibility

Taking care of a pet is a simple way to teach children the concept of responsibility – and it’s a lot more fun than washing dishes. Basic tasks, such as feeding the dog or giving the dog a bath, can help instill a sense of caring for another living being and reinforces the importance of being reliable.  

Lower Stress

A dog can actually put your family in a better mood. Studies have shown dogs can have a calming effect on humans by reducing levels of cortisol (the hormone that makes us feel stressed) and by increasing oxytocin (the feel-good hormone). Dogs provide companionship to kids which can help lower anxiety. This is especially valuable to those who struggle socially with human peers.

Keep Your Family Active 

Having a family pup helps improve your family’s health. All those walks around the block mean it’s not just your dog getting exercise, but you too! Just 30 minutes of walking every day can improve your cardiovascular fitness and reduce your risk of developing heart disease. 

The best perk of all is the unconditional love and loyalty our dogs give us. Is it any wonder we consider them a part of the family? 

Cool pups

“Dogs need to have access to shade and cool, fresh water when they are spending time outside in the summer,” says Dr. Dianna Stewart, DVM at Orchard Animal Hospital in Burlington. If your dog is panting excessively with a very wide, flat tongue hanging out that could be a sign of overheating. If overheating worsens, your dog could become weak or unsteady on their feet. Their gums may turn bright red or even bluish purple. 

If your pet is exhibiting these symptoms, remove them from the heat and offer cool water immediately. “You do not want to cool too quickly, so avoid very cold water or ice,” says Stewart. For more serious symptoms of possible heat stroke such as collapse or loss of consciousness, see a veterinarian. 


Heartworm season is June to November, and preventing this potentially fatal disease is essential – especially if you spend a lot of time on trails and in fields. Flea and tick prevention is recommended year-round, but especially from spring to fall. 

Hot Paws 

Walking on hot pavement can cause paws to burn. If the sidewalk is hot to the touch, Stewart recommends walking on grass or trails. “If a dog’s paws are getting too hot, they often start ‘dancing’ and trying to pick their feet up as they walk,” she says. Check your pup’s feet for burns which usually look raw and may bleed. 


Certain breeds may require more grooming in the summer. “Shedding dogs may benefit from a thorough de-shedding groom at the beginning of the summer to fully remove that dense winter undercoat,” says Stewart. Dogs that are clipped regularly may enjoy being clipped short, but Stewart says not too short – skin exposure may increase the risk of sunburns.  

By Lisa Evans

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