Summer Safety for Animals

Terry Hurley
Dog enjoying the summer

Being aware of summer safety for animals could mean the difference between having a happy summer with your furry friends or having one where your pets suffer from preventable seasonal accidents, injuries or possible death.

About Summer Safety for Animals

As summer approaches, thoughts turn to outdoor activities and fun in the sun for everyone, including family pets. Knowing how to protect your animal companions from the dangers of summer is the responsibility of every pet owner. Taking simple precautions and safeguards will help ensure your pets have a happy, fun-filled, safe summer.

Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

Overheating, resulting in heat exhaustion and possible heat stroke, can be deadly to your furry companion. Knowing the warning signs of these and what to do if your animal is in distress could save your pet's life.

Signs of Heat Exhaustion

  • Elevated body temperature
  • Heavy or excessive panting
  • Deep breathing (hyperventilation) or difficulty breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased salivation turning into dry gums
  • Confusion
  • Inattention
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea or vomiting which may be contain blood

Signs of Heat Exhaustion Progressing to Heat Stroke

  • Gray or pale gums
  • Shallow breathing (leading to very slow shallow breathing)
  • Diarrhea or vomiting, generally containing blood
  • Seizures
  • Coma

If your pet is showing signs of heat exhaustion:

  • Immediately remove him from the heat and out of the sun.
  • Cool your pet down with cool wet wash cloths or towels placed on its head and the pads of its feet. Never use ice or really cold water as they could cause the temperature to rise further by constricting the blood vessels.
  • Offer your pet a drink of cool water but do not force it to drink.
  • Even if the animal seems better, take it to its veterinarian right away to make sure that no internal damage occurred.

Preventing Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

  • Never leave your unattended pet in a car, even with the windows open.
  • Limit the time that your pets are outside in hot weather.
  • Make sure your pets always have a good supply of cool, fresh, clean drinking water
  • Avoid outdoor activities on very warm or hot days

Animals More Susceptible to Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

Dogs and cats that are elderly, ill, overweight or have flat, pushed in faces and snub noses are more susceptible to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Examples of these breeds include:

  • Pugs
  • Bulldogs
  • Japanese chins
  • Boston terriers
  • Pekinese
  • Persian cats
  • Extreme Himalayan cats

Sun and Water Safety

Pets, especially those with light colored or white fur, short hair or pink skin sunburn easily. Apply a pet safe sunscreen often, paying special attention to its nose and ears. You can also:

  • Limit your walks to the early morning or evening when pavement is cooler. Walking on hot pavement can cause burns or blisters to your pet's paw pads.
  • Walking on hot sand at the beach can also cause paw pad blisters or burns.
  • Never leave your pet unattended in a swimming pool.
  • If you take your dog on a boat make sure it is wearing a well-fitted life preserver or vest.

Toxins, Poisons and Deadly Pants

Summertime means more dangers to animals from toxic substances. Things to remember include:

  • Many people use fertilizer and other chemicals on their lawns and in their gardens. Many of these items are highly toxic to animals if they are ingested.
  • There are many plants and flowers that are poisonous to cats and dogs. The Humane Society of the United States offers a list of more than 700 plants that are potentially poisonous to pets.
  • Many pets are attracted to the sweet taste of antifreeze that can leak from a car if it is overheated. Antifreeze is highly poisonous to children and animals.

Safe Travel

Most dogs and some cats love to ride along with their human companions in the family car or truck. The following tips will help keep them safe as they enjoy their outing:

  • Keep a supply of cool water for your pet with you.
  • Keep your pet safe in the vehicle by securing it in a pet car seat, a harness and seatbelt or in a crate.
  • Never allow a dog to ride in the back of a pickup truck. This poses extreme danger to the dog, which can be thrown into traffic if the truck is involved in an accident or of the driver suddenly swerves or hits the brakes. Place the dog in the cab of the truck, either secured in a crate or wearing a harness and seat belt. If the dog must ride in the truck bed, secure it in a crate.

When it comes to summer safety for animals, every pet caretaker must keep their animal companions as safe as possible.

Summer Safety for Animals