Most of us take time to stay hydrated, apply sunscreen, and stay out of the sun during the hot summer months, but we may not be taking enough precaution to protect our furry friends. Pets, like people, enjoy getting outdoors when the weather gets nicer, but heat, water, insects, and traveling can create potentially dangerous scenarios for our pets.

Make sure to have fresh water available for your pet at locations like the park, beach, and anytime your animals will be outdoors. If you allow your pet to swim in a pool, make sure they know how to safely exit and are not ever left alone. When visiting a river or ocean, watch for currents and tides – these can be dangerous if you aren’t careful.

Summer heat and sunshine can be a large danger for pets. Animals can get sunburn and heat stroke just like humans. Try to avoid outdoor walks and activities when heat and humidity is highest, between 1 and 4 pm. Be on the lookout for signs of heat stroke such as profuse and rapid panting, a bright red tongue, thick drooling saliva, glassy eyes and/or lack of coordination. If you notice these signs, seek medical attention from a vet right away. Skin cancer is a concern for pets as well. Though fur provides some protection from the sun, you should apply a pet sunblock every 3 to 4 hours to any exposed spots, such as bellies on dogs and ears and around eyes on cats. These are also areas where malignant tumors are likely to show up. Look for products on the market made specifically for pets because some common ingredients in human sunscreen, such as zinc oxide, can be toxic to pets.

During summer, pets are outdoors more often, so beware of insects including fleas, ticks, mosquitos, or bees. Make sure vaccinations are up to date and that you use monthly medication and/or pet friendly insect repellant.

If you are traveling with pets this summer, vehicle safety may be an overlooked component. Keeping the pets inside a sturdy crate can prevent potential serious injury in the event of an accident. Never leave a pet in the car alone, even if the windows are cracked. Interior car temperatures rise quickly, this could be deadly if pets are left alone.

Tips for Pet Summer Safety:

  • When visiting a dog park, be sure to follow the posted rules and make sure play time doesn’t get too rough, which could result in biting, muscle strain or injury.
  • Lock up any plant food or insecticide you use for gardening; ingredients can be toxic to pets.
  • Skip the BBQ food scraps. These can lead to upset stomach, pancreatitis, or get lodged in a pet’s throat.
  • Keep your home cool. Leave on the air conditioning for pets if you will be gone for several hours.