Pets and their owners flock to the outdoors when the weather warms up, because they know the Midwestern summer lasts only a few fleeting months. While you are outside with your pet soaking up the sun, you may be exposing them to summer dangers. The Liberty Veterinary Hospital team has your pet’s best interests in mind, so we’re sharing the most common summer hazards and ways to protect your pet.

#1: Heat, humidity, and sun can lead to heatstroke

Heatstroke occurs when a pet’s body temperature rises above normal because of high temperatures, sun, humidity, or lack of ventilation. In many cases, heatstroke causes rapid organ failure, neurologic dysfunction, and death. A dog’s only cooling mechanism is evaporation from panting, which is inefficient and easily overwhelmed. Keep pets out of the hot sun whenever possible, provide water and shade when outdoors, take frequent breaks in the air conditioning, and never leave pets in a hot car or unsupervised in the yard.

#2: Hot asphalt can burn your pet’s paws 

Try to avoid asphalt as much as possible during hot, sunny days, and aim for dirt, limestone, gravel, concrete, or grass paths to prevent your pet’s sensitive paw pads from being burned. Invest in all-terrain dog booties if you enjoy hiking and other outdoor adventures.

#3: Fireworks and thunderstorms can cause your pet anxiety and stress

Many pets fear noises, with fireworks and thunderstorms topping the trigger list. Panic and anxiety in your pet who has noise aversion can decrease their quality of life, but treatments can help. Talk to our team about anti-anxiety medications, training protocols, and calming products and strategies to help your pet get through the loud summer events.

#4: Pets are more likely to go missing during the summer

More pets run away during the summer than other times of the year, so prepare for the worst by ensuring your pet’s identification is current. Check their tags and have a new one made if the inscription is no longer legible, and call your microchip company to update your information if you recently moved or changed phone numbers. Consider microchipping your pet if they have not yet had the procedure, because a microchip greatly increases the chances of your lost pet being safely returned.

#5: Party food and drink can make your pet sick

Barbecues are fun, and your pet will surely want to partake in the tasty food and drink offerings, but some party foods (e.g., chocolate, alcohol, macadamia nuts, garlic, onions) are toxic to pets, while others (e.g., corn cobs, meat bones) may lead to life-threatening intestinal obstructions. Ask guests not to share food with your pet and ensure you keep food-containing trash out of your pet’s reach.

#6: Parasites can threaten your pet’s health

Fleas and ticks can cause your pet to itch miserably, and they can also transmit serious diseases. Heartworm infections are most commonly contracted during the summer months when mosquitoes are most active. Administer a monthly flea, tick, and heartworm preventive to ensure your pet remains protected from parasites throughout the season. Our team will happily provide recommendations and more information.

#7: Pools and natural water bodies pose a drowning hazard

Water is a great way to cool off, but inexperienced swimmers or overzealous pets who swim too far out risk drowning. Always supervise pets around water and ensure new swimmers wear a life jacket while you assist them. Household pools must be securely fenced to prevent pets from accidentally falling in or attempting to walk on a cover.

#8: Pollens and insect stings can cause allergic reactions

Summer is an itchy time for pets with allergies, which can appear at any time in a pet’s life. Pollen, mold, and other environmental allergies usually cause chronic itching, ear infections, and skin redness that require ongoing medical treatments. Insect bites or stings can cause more severe and acute reactions and require a prompt emergency hospital visit.

#9: Plants, chemicals, and other yard products can be toxic to pets

Cocoa bean mulch, toxic plants, fertilizer, and insecticides are common summer pet toxins. Avoid using toxic items in your landscaping by first consulting with the ASPCA list of toxic and non-toxic plants, and keep chemicals out of your pet’s reach.

Soak up the summer sun while you can, and use this summer safety hazard guide to keep your pet safe. Contact Liberty Veterinary Hospital to schedule a parasite control consultation, microchipping, anxiety screening, or wellness visit to prepare your pet for the best summer yet.