The Trupanion blog
9 Summer Dangers for Dogs to Avoid
By: Brianna Gunter
Summer is a time to thrive for many dogs and their humans. However, these months are also when pet parents need to be extra vigilant about safety. In addition to offering more opportunities for outdoor activities with your dog, the warmer weather and long hours of sun bring various dangers to watch out for.
To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of nine summer dangers for dogs to avoid. While these should serve as general guidelines, it’s always a good idea to talk with your veterinarian about specific risks your dog may be prone to this season. For example, brachycephalic canines, or dog breeds with shorter snouts,
Heatstroke in dogs is a common concern during summer, and many pet owners don’t realize just how quickly it can happen. Exposure to high temperatures and/or long periods of time spent in the hot sun can cause heatstroke in dogs, especially when they are running around or engaging in other strenuous activity.
Usually characterized by an excessive body temperature, heavy breathing, and an elevated heart rate, heatstroke can lead to a dog become extremely fatigued, fainting, or becoming dazed to the point that they don’t recognize people or objects. Heatstroke in dogs can also lead to death if left untreated.
To prevent this, avoid exposing your dog to high temperatures (especially over 100 degrees F or 37.7 degrees C). You’ll also want to cut walks and exercise times short on hot days, and always make sure your pal has access to fresh, cool water and shade.
2. Leaving dogs in hot cars
Another cause of pet heatstroke is dogs left in hot cars. This situation is so high-risk that it deserves its own category. Depending on the specific conditions, it can take just 15 minutes for a dog to die from heatstroke inside a hot vehicle. Hundreds of pets are affected by this during summer in North America every year.
The real danger is that it doesn’t even have to be that hot outside for conditions inside a parked car to become fatal to dogs. An outdoor temperature of 75 degrees F (23.8 degrees C) can swell to 94 degrees F (34.4 degrees C) inside a parked vehicle within just 10 minutes. Leave it for 30 minutes, and it can reach well over 100 degrees F (37.7 degrees C).
The lesson? Never leave a dog in a parked car during the summer. Even with the windows cracked, there isn’t enough air flow to keep the heat down. In some jurisdictions, leaving your dog in the car is illegal.
In addition to heatstroke, dehydration is another major summer danger for dogs. Our pups can get hot a lot faster than us humans, especially when they exert themselves. If a dog goes too long without water, dehydration can be a life-threatening scenario.
Your furry friend needs easy access to clean, cool water throughout the season, whether they’re indoors or outside in the yard. If you only have one water bowl, now’s a great time to get another for the backyard. Keep it in a shady area, and be sure to clean and refill it every day to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
4. Canine sunburn
Your buddy may be covered in fur, but that doesn’t make her immune to sunburn. Dogs can get sunburn anywhere on their bodies, especially if they have shorter, less-dense coats or fair-colored skin underneath. However, they are especially prone to burns on the nose, ears, and tummy area. It’s also worth noting that hairless dog breeds are at an elevated risk for skin cancer.
Talk to your veterinarian if you notice dry, chapped-looking areas of skin or red spots. The best dog sunburn protection is prevention, of course. Keep outdoor time more limited on bright days, and always make sure access to shade is nearby. Some pet stores also stock dog-friendly sunscreens.
5. Fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and other insects
Bug bites can cause unpleasant itching for your dog, but that’s the least of your concerns when it comes to fleas and insects. These tiny critters can harbor a wide range of harmful diseases that can be transmitted to your pal and cause serious illness.
Protect your dog with a routine flea and tick preventative recommended by your veterinarian. You’ll also want to check Fluffy’s fur for ticks after every time spent outdoors, especially if you live in a region where they are more common. Not sure? The Centers for Disease Control and prevention has a tick map tool that can help.
6. Grass awns
Grass seed structures, also known as foxtails or grass awns, are considered highly hazardous to dogs. Though small and soft-looking from a distance, these are sharp, arrow-like portions of certain grass varieties found across North America. They contain barbs that can easily stick to dogs running through the area, and they can also be easily inhaled.
Once in your dog’s system, grass awns can puncture soft tissues and lead to serious health problems. Always be on the lookout for arrow-like grass blades this summer, and prevent your buddy from inhaling or eating the foliage.
7. Hot pavement
You know the days where people like to say it’s hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk? Or the days where you wouldn’t dare step out onto the patio barefoot? Or when you can actually feel the heat emanating from pavement?
These are all days when it’s too hot for your dog’s paws.
Dog paws are more sensitive than they appear, and hot pavement can cause burns and other injuries. Even once the sun has set, it’s important to remember that streets and sidewalks can retain heat after being baked in it all day.
So, practice caution when taking your pup outdoors. Test the pavement first by touching it with your hand—if it’s too hot for you to comfortably lay your palm flat, it may be dangerous for Fido’s paw pads. If you do need to take your pal out for walks when it’s hot, consider investing in a set of protective dog booties that are particularly rated for heat.
8. Water perils
Do you have a pup who likes to swim? Great! But be sure to keep a close eye on him whenever he’s in or around the water. Test the water first to make sure it isn’t too cold, and make sure your buddy stays in shallow areas. If you’re going out on a boat, bring along a dog life jacket.
Harmful algae can thrive in warm summer waters, as can a host of other nasty things. Take steps to prevent your dog from consuming lake or pond water to prevent ingestion of algae, parasites, and harmful bacteria.
9. Summer holiday risks
Summer holidays bring with them a broad range of dangers for dogs. For example, keep a close eye on your furry friend during barbecues and gatherings. Plastic silverware, chicken bones, and other cookout materials can quickly lead an emergency veterinary visit if ingested.
Traveling this summer with your dog? Make sure she’s well-suited for it. Only use a dog carrier she’s comfortable with, but consider leaving your pal at home with a pet sitter if she’s overly anxious around crowds and loud noises. Calling airlines ahead of time to learn their specific pet policies will help save both of you time and stress.
Put your dog’s health first this summer
Summer is an exciting time for you and Fido, but the fun shouldn’t come as a cost to his health. Always put safety first, and talk to your veterinarian about other summer dangers for dogs that could be in your area.
While you’re taking steps to protect your canine friend from seasonal risks, now’s a great time to get a pet insurance quote. Unexpected illnesses and injuries can still happen at any time to pets with the most cautious owners, and having a safety net in place will help offer peace of mind. That way, you can get back to enjoying the nice weather with your pal.
*Trupanion does not receive compensation for products mentioned in this article. Links to retailers or pet products are for informative purposes only.
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While you’re browsing our pet blog, please note that the views expressed here are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Trupanion. Our articles are reviewed by veterinarians for accuracy, but they are not a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. Always consult with your own pet’s veterinarian for advice.