5 summertime hazards for dogs
Summer serves as a fun time to share with pets, but also poses potential dangers clients should be educated about
Summertime is filled with poolside fun, barbecues, catching up with friends and family, and more festivities. Though it is an exciting time for dogs and humans alike to enjoy the balmy weather and celebrations, it poses some risks for these furry friends. Here are 5 hazards to inform clients about so they can be mindful when reveling in the sunshine with their pet this season.
Among the most common conditions dogs suffer from in the summer is heatstroke. If a dog’s internal body temperature surpasses a normal temperature of 101.5°F, this is a fever and is called hyperthermia. When it surpasses 105°F, the pet may be experiencing heatstroke.1
Dogs that are left in cars with insufficient ventilation are typically victims of heatstroke as their body’s temperature increases extremely quickly, even within minutes, according to VCA Animal Hospitals.2 “Our cars heat up so fast even with the windows open that just this time of year is no good for them to be in there period,” shared Amber Karwacki, DVM, partner doctor at Heart + Paw, in a dvm360® interview.
Some other causes of heatstroke include being left outside without access to shade or water and intense exercise in hot weather. “If it's too hot for us to be outside for long periods of time, same for the dogs. Limit outside time to small amounts in the middle of the day, and then use your longer walks for the beginning of the day or the end of the day when it's a little bit cooler for [pets],” added Karwacki.
Those that are at a greater risk for suffering from heatstroke include: brachycephalic breeds, muzzled dogs, and those with any infection causing pyrexia.2
Also, because dehydration and heatstroke typically go hand in hand, check out these tips for keeping dogs hydrated.
Just like humans, pets can get sunburn on their skin which can cause potentially harmful conditions and complications. They can burn their sensitive paw pads as well.
Karwacki explained, “Sunburn for dogs looks similar to ours where they'll get reddish skin, it’ll get irritated, and it'll be painful for them when you pet them. Usually, it's dogs with the thinner hair coats, like your pugs or beagles, or dogs that have illnesses that make their coats thinner like Cushing's disease.”
The American Kennel Club advises to use sunscreen specifically formulated for dogs to keep them safe from the sun.3 The ingredients should not contain zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA). These ingredients are toxic to dogs when ingested and dogs typically lick their skin, so this can pose a risk. A waterproof, unscented dog sunscreen with a SPF of 30 is an ideal option.3
When it comes to preventing paw pad burns, Karwacki said, “Especially for those that are in the cities that are walking their dogs, put your hand to the concrete. If it's too hot for your hand, it's too hot for their paws. Either way, wait to do their walks [until it’s cooler], or use booties to help prevent the burns to their paws.”
Along with booties, there are also paw balms and waxes available to help protect a pet’s paw pads from the heat.
July 4th offers a nice, relaxing weekend for humans, but for pets that’s not always the case. The loud noises and flashing lights can give many dogs anxiety, which triggers their fight or flight. Because they can’t “fight” the noise, they tend to flee, as a result, animal control officials nationwide report a 30% increase in pets lost annually between July 4th to July 6th.4
Karwacki suggested ensuring your pet has a safe space to retreat to if fireworks are being launched near your home.
“For fourth of July, set up a smaller space in like a bathroom or a back bedroom that doesn't have many windows for your dog to stay in. If they love their crate, bring their crate into that area so it’s their safe space," she recommended.
“Also, you can have some white noise or radio playing in the background to hopefully block out the sound of the fireworks. And then as always, if deemed necessary by your veterinarian, having anti-anxiety drugs on board so that way, they're calmer and they're not having their panic attacks."
If you have more time to prepare your dog for the holiday, you can try to desensitize your dog by playing a firework soundtrack on a lower level while they are happy and playing with you so they can have a positive association with these noises.
Barbecues mean plenty of enticing food for canines on the table and grill. Karwacki warned of food being dropped on the ground that is toxic or unsafe to pets or guest feeding them off their own plate.
“Some of the [foods at a barbecue] are really fatty and can give [dogs] gastrointestinal upset like vomiting, diarrhea, or even pancreatitis. Other things they just can't digest. [For example], if they grab a corn on the cob, those cobs are not digestible. Or if they grab a wooden skewer and try to eat it, that can impale through their stomach into other things,” she said.
“If you have dogs that like jumping, watch them around the grills. All they know is there's food up there, and they'll jump on top with their paws on there, and then they have burns from the hot grill,” Karwacki continued.
Last, if you are having guests over during the summer, it’s important to know your dog and inform your guests of their personality, according to Karwacki.
“If your dog is not a fan of groups of people, little children, or adults, have a safe space away for them. [Also make] sure your guests know that your dog is maybe not the best dog to go running up to for a big hug, that will probably terrify him more than anything.”
“Just be mindful [this summer] if you wouldn't like to do [something], your dog probably won't like to either,” Karwacki concluded.
- Meyers H. American Kennel Club. May 6, 2021. Accessed July 1, 2022. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/heatstroke-in-dogs
- Williams K, Ward E. Heat stroke in dogs. VCA Animal Hospitals. Accessed July 1, 2022. https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/heat-stroke-in-dogs
- Meyers H. Do dogs need sunscreen? American Kennel Club. May 25, 2021. Accessed July 1, 2022. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/do-dogs-need-sunscreen
- New infographic: more pets are lost on July 4th than any other day of the year. News release. PetAmberAlert.com. June 2, 2015. Accessed July 1, 2022. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-infographic-more-pets-are-lost-on-july-4th-than-any-other-day-of-the-year-300108062.html