Summer Pet Safety Tips

Ahhhh, Summer is here! It’s time to relax and enjoy the beautiful weather with your pets. Summertime means lots of walks in the park, hiking adventures, beach days, and travel. It’s a wonderful time to get outdoors, but unfortunately all the outdoor activities can pose a threat to your pets’ well being. Pets are at an increased risk for heatstroke, parasites, and poisonings during the summer months. Here are some tips and tricks to keep your pets happy and healthy this summer.

The beach is a great place to cool down and hangout with your pet, but be aware of the strong currents that can take them out to sea. It’s not a bad idea to invest in a life jacket for your dog if you plan on swimming or boating this summer. Investing in a bright colored life jacket will keep your pet visible and help stay afloat incase of an accident. Salt water is extremely dangerous for dogs and can be fatal in large amounts. Drinking excess salt water usually results in vomiting but in severe cases your dog will become confused and unresponsive due to extremely high sodium levels. The best way to avoid salt water poisoning is to always have fresh water available, take breaks after 15 minutes of water play, and if you notice your dog consuming salt water immediately restrict their access to the ocean. 

You may not be close to a beach but there are lots of lakes and ponds that offer fun activities during the summer. Luckily you don’t have to worry about strong currents in lakes or ponds, but you definitely need to keep a watchful eye around all bodies of water to prevent accidental drowning. The main concern with lakes and ponds is blue-green algae poisoning. This “algae” is actually a bacteria that gives off the appearance of algae once it clumps together in the water. Blue-green algae is often found in non-flowing freshwater during the summer months with little rainfall. Typically, this algae has a horrible smell that smells rotten, so guess what… Animals are attracted to it. This algae is extremely dangerous for animals to drink or swim in and can cause liver damage, neurological issues, and eventually death. Prevention is key so don’t let your pets drink or swim in stagnant bodies of water and always have fresh water available.

Two dogs lay together in a red hammock

If you are hitting the trails or strolling around the park this summer make sure your pets are prepared for the elements. The first thing you should check on is the temperature and time of your hike or walk. You want to plan your outdoor activities early in the morning or later in the day to avoid the heat of the day. Heatstroke is a very real risk for pets in the summer. Symptoms to look out for include high body temperature, excessive panting, distress, and dry or bright red gums. If your pet is showing signs of a heat stroke immediately move them to shade, wrap them in a cool towel, keep air circulating on them, and call your vet.

The sun beating down on surfaces like asphalt, concrete, and rocks pose a threat of burning your pets paw pads. You can test out surfaces before exposing your pet to them by simply pressing your hand against the surface for 5 seconds. If your hand is uncomfortable and burning it is too hot for your pet! If you must be out please use protective booties or paw wax to protect your pets paws and take other measures to make sure your pet stays cool in the heat.

If worrying about the temperature isn’t enough, summer brings out all the fun things like bugs and parasites. Fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes are basically everywhere during the summer, and carry tapeworms, heart worms, and Lyme disease. You should consult with your veterinarian about the  appropriate prevention medication and use pet friendly bug spray for an extra level of protection. Finally, remember to always check your pet for any grass seeds, burrs, or bugs after every outing. 

Two dogs--one aussie and one small mixed breed--stand together at a mountain lookout point

No matter where your summer adventures take you, remembering some simple travel tips can help prevent accidents and create lasting memories with your pet. When you are traveling, never ever leave your pet in a car–even if the windows are cracked and you are in the shade. Temperatures in a car can skyrocket to deadly levels in less than a half hour. Pets can’t sweat like humans so it’s harder to lower their body temperatures once overheating starts. Overheating causes dehydration, heatstroke, organ damage, and death. Long story short, if your pet isn’t coming with you when you exit the car, leave them at home. 

Traveling to new areas is super exciting but needing to find something in an emergency isn’t so exciting. When you are traveling with your pets make sure to have a travel first aid kit and a list of emergency vets near your destination. It’s easier to be prepared than to be scrambling for a phone number in an emergency. Summer is one of the best times of the year and taking a few extra precautions can ensure that you and your pet have the best summer ever! Stay safe and have fun this summer!