Top Summertime Tips for Pet Safety

Summertime! Finally, your chance to relax and unwind! With your sunblock, sunglasses and a good book, you plan to enjoy the day at the pool! Suddenly, you remember your dog is in the yard – unsupervised …surely he will be okay for a couple hours. Or will he?

Summer temperatures might be great for tan lines and boating trips, but the excessive heat and increased outdoor activities could spell disaster for your pets. As the mercury rises, take just a few moments to ensure that your pets are safe and prevent an urgent trip to Hulen Hills for emergency care!

The most common heat-related problem for pets is heat stroke. This is a real emergency for dogs that can be fatal. Even on moderately warm days, an excited dog might show a body temperature increase. Because dogs don’t sweat like we do, they can’t dissipate the excess heat and heat stroke may soon follow.

In the last month, we’ve treated several dogs for heat exhaustion. One German Shephard collapsed after a long run with his owner, a small Pomerarian got too hot while waiting outside of a restaurant while her owners grabbed a quick dinner, a 4-year old Labrador heated up after a long day of running errands with her owner. Sadly, all of these pets passed away, leaving a wake of devastation behind for their greiving owners.

Any outdoor pet can overheat on a warm summer day, but short-faced breeds like Pugs and Bulldogs are at a higher risk. In addition, every year thousands of pets succumb to heat stroke because they were left in cars while their owners ran “just a few” errands. On a 100 degree day, it takes only 15 minutes for the temperature inside of a car to reach 140 degrees. Even on a 70 degree day, temperatures inside a car can soar to over 110 degrees in less than one hour! 

When the sun goes down and the temperatures start to cool, your pets still face many summer challenges. The patriotic holidays are often celebrated with fireworks. The bright flashes and loud bangs are terrifying to some pets and can cause anxiety, stress and even escape. Each year on July 4, our emergency staff ends up tending to the injuries of these frightened pets.

Likewise, some pets react in a similar way to thunderstorms. Normally calm pets may become distressed, destructive and even bite in an attempt to get away from the noises. If your pet has severe thunderstorm anxiety, talk to your veterinarian about it. Often times, we can help by prescribing sedatives to give your dog when you know a storm is coming. Dr. Running has also experienced great results with her anxiety-ridden patients through acupuncture treatments and music therapy.

The warm summer season also brings out a many pests. Fleas and ticks are two examples, but some species of biting flies are very fond of dogs’ ears. Repeated bites can cause a condition that can be serious and difficult to control known as “fly strike.” Make sure your pet is on flea and tick preventatives. We like Revolution because it also protects our pets from heartworm disease. 

It is possible to enjoy the summer with your pets by taking just a few precautions:

  • First and foremost, always be aware of the weather forecast.
  • Don’t leave your pet unattended outside or plan heavy exercise on hot, humid days. If your pet is left outdoors, he must have access to adequate shade and fresh water. 
  • When it’s time to run errands, leave your pet at home. Even a few minutes in a hot car is enough to increase your pet’s body temperature dramatically.
  • If you find your pet disoriented, panting excessively or collapsed in the yard, move him immediately to a cooler environment. Use cool wet towels over his back, armpits and groin to help bring his temperature down. Fans are often helpful too. DO NOT USE ICE! Then, get him to Hulen Hills immediately so that we can begin life-saving treatments.
  • If you are planning to take your pets to any outdoor celebrations or cook-outs, find out first if pets are welcome or if fireworks are planned. It might be easier to simply leave the dogs at home rather than risk a run-away or injury. 

Summertime should be a time for relaxation and fun…don’t let a pet emergency spoil your good time.