8 Common Summer Dangers for Dogs

8 Common Summer Dangers for Dogs

Dogs may not count down the days and minutes until summer begins like we do. But you can bet they would if they could! Summertime is packed with fun adventures dogs love. However, as temperatures rise, so do the potential risks dogs face during the summer months.

From heatstroke to poisonous plants, there are plenty of dangers that could derail your dog’s fun in the sun this summer. But not if you’re aware of the risks and how to prevent them.

Here’s what you need to know about the most common summer dangers for dogs. Plus, you’ll get helpful tips to keep your pet safe, happy, and healthy so you can enjoy summer fun together.

1. Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion

Dogs can easily overheat in hot and humid weather because they can’t sweat like humans. They cool off by panting, but that doesn’t work as well in hot, humid conditions. If they get too hot, they can suffer from heat exhaustion from losing fluids and salts after prolonged exposure to heat.

If heat exhaustion isn’t treated, it can lead to heat stroke, which can be deadly for dogs. Heat stroke occurs when the body temperature of a dog exceeds 105 degrees F. Certain breeds, such as Bulldogs and Pugs, are more prone to heat stroke, particularly in hot climates or during intense physical activity.

Preventing heat stroke in dogs

  • Avoid walking your dog during the hottest part of the day (between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.)
  • Not sure how hot is too hot for dogs? Use the touch test: If the pavement is too hot to keep your bare hand there for a few seconds, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws.
  • Always provide your dog plenty of fresh water and shade on hot days.
  • Never leave your dog in a parked car, even with the windows down. In temperatures as low as 75 degrees, a dog’s internal temperature can hit dangerous levels within minutes.

Recognizing the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke in dogs is crucial. Early detection can mean the difference between life and death. Excessive panting and drooling are often the first signs. Your dog may also seem lethargic or confused. As the condition worsens, dogs may vomit, have diarrhea, or even collapse.

If you notice any of these signs, contact your vet right away. Heatstroke is a medical emergency that requires immediate veterinary attention.

2. Dehydration

Though dogs can suffer dehydration any time of the year, the risk increases as temperatures rise. Dogs get dehydrated when they lose more fluids than they take in. And because panting relies on moisture evaporation to cool down dogs, the more they pant, the more likely they are to dehydrate.

Dogs can become dehydrated quickly in hot weather, especially if they don’t have access to fresh water. And dehydration can lead to serious health problems, including kidney failure and death. If you notice signs of dehydration in your dog, like dry nose and gums, sunken eyes, and lethargy, contact your veterinarian right away to decide the best treatment.

Pet safety tips to prevent dog dehydration

  • Always ensure your dog has easy access to fresh, cool water.
  • Even on cooler days, prolonged exposure to the sun can be harmful. Make sure your dog has a shady place to rest, so they don’t have to pant so much to cool down.
  • Try offering ice cubes or frozen treats made from dog-safe unseasoned broth to help keep your dog hydrated and cool.

3. Parasites: Fleas, Ticks, and Heartworms

Pesky parasites thrive during the warm summer weather. If you and your dog spend time in nature, you’re more likely to encounter disease-carrying fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes that could harm your pet.

Despite the risks, there’s no need to avoid the great outdoors this summer. With a proactive plan to prevent parasites, you and your dog can enjoy nature all summer long.

Parasite prevention guidelines

  • Regularly check your dog for signs of fleas and ticks after you spend time outside, and carefully remove any parasites you find.
  • To eliminate fleas and ticks in your home, wash your pet’s bedding and vacuum regularly.
  • Reduce the risk of parasites in your yard by clearing out places fleas and ticks like to hide, like tall grasses and patches of weeds. Get rid of standing water, too, which can attract breeding mosquitoes.
  • Most importantly, use year-round parasite prevention to guard your dog against the threats in your region. Ask your veterinarian whether a broad-spectrum preventative would be a good choice. These convenient combo medications protect against fleas, ticks, and heartworms in one monthly dose.
SImparica Trio for dogs
NexGard Plus
Trifexis for dogs

4. Sunburn and Burned Paws

Most of us wouldn’t think about spending a day in the hot sun without sun protection. The same should apply to our dogs.

Dogs can get sunburned, just like us. This is especially true for dogs with short or light-colored coats. And the health effects of burns from UV rays on dogs are just as dire. Sunburn in dogs can lead to skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer.

Summer burn hazards don’t just come from above. In warmer weather, hot asphalt and sand can burn sensitive dog paws, especially during the peak heat hours of the day.

Preventing sunburns and paw burns

  • Apply pet-safe sunscreen to your dog’s exposed skin, especially areas like the nose, ears, and belly, which are particularly vulnerable to burning.
  • Don’t use sunscreen made for humans on your dog, even in a pinch. It can contain ingredients that could harm your dog if they lick it off.
  • Test heat-absorbing surfaces before you walk your dog on them.
  • If your dog’s paws are particularly sensitive, consider investing in protective dog booties for summer to reduce the risk of paw burns.

Always consult your veterinarian about the best way to treat burns in dogs. They may recommend simple remedies for mild burns. But if the skin is cracked or compromised, it’s best not to put anything like cream or ointment on more severe burns at home.

5. Water Hazards and Drowning Risks

Summer is the ideal time for fun water activities with your dog. Whether it’s a trip to the beach, a day at the lake, or simply lounging by the pool, water gives pets and people a chance to chill out and escape the summer heat.

However, before you float, sail, paddle, or dive, keep in mind that not all dogs are born with an innate ability to swim. While some breeds are natural swimmers, others may struggle in the water. This means that drowning is a real risk for dogs, particularly those who are not familiar or comfortable with water.

Even dogs who are skilled swimmers can get into trouble in pools, lakes, or the ocean, so it’s crucial to always supervise your furry friend when they are near bodies of water.

Summer water safety tips

  • Invest in a dog life jacket, even if your dog is a confident swimmer. It adds an extra layer of safety, especially in deep or moving water. Look for options with a handle built into the back, so it’s easier to lift your dog out of the water.
  • Teach your dog how to get in and out of the pool safely, without your assistance. This is crucial in case they fall in accidentally.
  • Always rinse or shampoo your dog after swimming. Chlorine, salt, and lake organisms can irritate their skin, harm their coat, and contribute to ear infections, which tend to spike in the summer for dogs.
  • Never leave your dog unattended in the water.
Cerasoothe Antiseptic Shampoo
MalAcetic Wet Wipes
Cerasoothe Antiseptic Flush for dog ear cleaning

6. Toxic Foods, Plants, and Chemicals

Some dogs will happily eat anything. But if you’ve got an enthusiastic (and opportunistic) eater, summertime can be especially challenging. Between picnics, barbecues, gardens, and nature, summer is packed with potential toxins.

These include:

  • Foods – Many summer celebration staples, like brownies, fruit salad, and burger fixings, contain ingredients that can be toxic to dogs. Grapes, onions, and chocolate are just a few examples of foods that could be fatal to your dog. Be mindful of where your dog is during gatherings. Keep harmful foods out of their reach.
  • Chemicals – If you use lawn and garden chemicals like fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides to beautify your yard, there’s a good chance they could be toxic to dogs. Always store these products securely and keep your dog off treated lawns until it’s safe.
  • Plants and Nature – Common landscaping plants toxic to dogs include lilies, azaleas, and sago palms. And out in the wild, you can find toxins like blue-green algae in bodies of water or poisonous mushrooms on a trail that may be deadly if ingested. Always check your surroundings for potential hazards. And keep your dog on a short leash when hiking in unfamiliar territory, especially if they’re known to nibble.

If, despite your best efforts, you suspect your dog has eaten something poisonous, timing is crucial. Contact your veterinarian as soon as possible to ensure quick, effective treatment. You can also call ASPCA Poison Control (888-426-4435) or the Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661) for guidance. Both services charge a consultation fee. 

7. Exercise-induced Injuries

Summer often means more playtime and fun adventures for your dog. But that could also increase the risk of accidents, injuries, and other health issues.

It’s important to monitor your dog’s activity level during play and exercise to ensure they’re not pushing too hard. Overexertion could lead to heat exhaustion or weakness that could lead to injury. Other signs to watch out for include excessive panting, drooling, lethargy, disorientation, and confusion.

  • If you notice these signs, stop the activity immediately. Move your dog to a cool, shaded area and provide fresh water.
  • Plan your summer adventures with your dog’s stamina and natural abilities in mind. If your pup is more of a couch potato, start out with a short hike instead of an all-day trek.
  • Keep your dog’s weight in check to prevent added stress on their body. Ask your veterinarian if your dog would benefit from a specialized diet formulated to promote healthy weight or medication to ease aches and pains.
Can of Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets OM Overweight Management wet dog food
Hill's Metabolic dog food bag
Galliprant for Dogs packaging

8. Summer Stress: Fireworks and Anxiety

Summer is a time for celebrations, many of which include fireworks that can terrify your dog. But fireworks aren’t the only hazard. Parties, parades, and even summer thunderstorms can all cause anxiety in dogs.

Summer tips for managing noise anxiety in dogs

  • If your dog shows signs of anxiety in response to loud noises or fireworks, such as trembling or hiding, it’s important to comfort them. If possible, provide a safe, quiet space where they can retreat.
  • If your dog is sensitive to noise, talk to your veterinarian about using calming solutions, like supplements, anxiety wraps, or prescription medications.
  • Remember, every dog is different. What works for one may not work for another. It’s all about finding what helps your dog feel safe and secure.
Packaging for ThunderShirt for dogs
Bottle of Gabapentin Flavored Mini-Tabs (compounded)

Quick Summer Dog Safety Checklist

Summer is a time for outdoor activities, vacations, and relaxation, but it’s important to keep in mind that it can also pose risks for our four-legged friends. Stay vigilant and take precautions to ensure your favorite canine stays safe and healthy.

Here’s a quick checklist to help you remember the key points:

  • Keep your dog hydrated and provide plenty of shade.
  • Protect their paws from hot surfaces.
  • Be mindful of water safety.
  • Watch out for toxic substances and plants.
  • Guard against dangerous parasites.
  • Protect your dog from the sun.
  • Avoid overexertion and manage noise anxiety.
  • Never leave your dog in a hot car.

With these tips in mind, you and your dog can enjoy a safe and fun-filled summer.

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