Now that summer is here, we’re sure you have a lot of fun plans to make the most of the season with your furry best friend. From firefly spotting to stargazing there are plenty of ways to embrace the beauty of summer and make new memories with your dog. However, while doing so, there are some dangers you want to protect your pup from–many of which most dog owners aren’t aware of. To help protect your dog’s health and keep the fun in summer, review these hidden summer dangers before you depart for some fun in the sun!
1. Blue-Green Algae
As temperatures heat up, bodies of water become an ideal environment for algae growth. One of these forms of algae, blue-green algae, is highly toxic to dogs. This microscopic culprit can rapidly result in a fatality, so if you see a layer of algae, do not let your dog drink the water or get into it. Even licking the algae off their coat can get a dog very sick.
While blue-green algae toxicity is recognized as extremely dangerous for dogs, brown, red, and yellow algae all produce toxins that can harm your dog, as well.
If you suspect your dog has been exposed to algae, wash your dog completely. Then look your dog over for signs of a rash, and watch for trouble breathing, irritated skin, or vomiting. Contact your vet if your dog shows any signs of illness.
2. Cutting Your Dog’s Coat Too Short
Unless you’re a groomer or have a similar experience, it’s best not to give your dog a summer haircut. While trimming your dog’s fur can be harmless, if you shave your dog or cut their coat too short, it can be detrimental to their health. Shaving a dog with a double or triple cut can be even more dangerous.
It might sound odd, but your dog’s coat both insulates them and protects them from the sun and heat. Your dog’s coat shields their sun from UV rays, preventing sunburn, and shades their skin, keeping it cooler overall.
If you believe your dog would benefit from a new summer hairdo, going to the groomer is the best option.
3. Fleas, Ticks, and Worms. Oh my!
Once the summer has chased away the cold of winter, all kinds of bugs begin to appear. Make sure that your dog gets their regular flea and tick medication, as well as their heartworm medicine. While fleas might just irritate your dog (and become a nuisance in your household), ticks and heartworms can permanently damage their health and threaten their life.
If you go out rambling with your dog, you will want to examine them from nose to tail for ticks when you return. Keep in mind that ticks often aim for dark, warm areas such as the ears and underarms. Ticks can be removed using a pair of tweezers. Be sure to use a firm and steady grip on the tick’s body as close to the skin as possible. Always check for the tick’s head once it’s removed. If the tick’s head breaks off under your dog’s skin, you might need to visit the vet to have it treated.
4. Summer Chemicals
Most dog parents know to keep their cleaners and harmful household chemicals out of paw’s reach–but there are some summertime chemicals hidden in public spaces and even your own yard.
During the summer, many yards, parks, and public spaces get sprayed with a variety of insecticides, pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides. Being exposed to these can damage your dog’s paw and even overall health. So, if you know that an area has been sprayed, avoid walking your dog in that grass or area. If you’re unsure if an area has been treated with chemicals, it’s always best to rinse your dog’s paws before coming indoors.
5. BBQs, Picnics, and Leftovers
There are few activities more enjoyable than a summer BBQ or picnic. However, these activities can present some precarious issues for hungry and curious canine companions, including:
- Mouth burns from consuming hot food
- Burns from bumping into the grill
- Choking on bones
- Splintering bones in the digestive tract
- Poisoning from toxic foods such as chocolate or the fake sweetener, xylitol
Even if you’re not the one that enjoyed an outdoor meal, your dog could still be at risk. Staying mindful and vigilant on walks and adventures can prevent your dog from chowing down on food that could make them quite ill.
Summertime is a snake’s favorite time to sun itself. This means many more of these slithery creatures are out in the open. While most snakes aren’t venomous, all snakes can bite. It’s always best to give all snakes a wide berth. If your dog does happen to corner a poisonous variety and gets bitten, stay calm, try to identify the type of snake, and call your vet immediately.
Some dogs are good swimmers. Others, like some bulldogs, can’t swim at all. If you're planning a doggy dip in the pool, lake, or other body of water, monitor your dog. Waves can result in your dog accidentally inhaling water. Some dogs swim too far out and become too exhausted to swim back.
When you are in a boat, put a puppy life jacket on them and remember to give them a helping hand when getting in and out of the boat.
8. Environmental Allergens that Pop Up in Summer
People aren’t the only ones that experience seasonal allergies. Dogs do too! And these allergies can make your dog feel pretty miserable. Allergies can result in itchy ears, eyes, paws, and other areas of the skin, respiratory discomfort, and even digestive problems.
Some common allergens that tend to bother dogs in summer include:
- Cigarette smoke
- Dust mites
- Grasses and grass seed
Wiping your dog down with a damp towel (don’t forget their paws) after walks can reduce the amount of pollen your dog brings indoors.
9. Getting Too “Hot Under the Collar”
Heat can be a silent killer during the summer. Dogs can’t regulate their body heat as effectively as you. So, while the temperature may feel fine to you, it could be too hot for your dog, resulting in heatstroke. (Lear more about canine heatstroke).
Remember to avoid high-risk situations like midday hikes without shade and leaving your dog outdoors midday. Never leave your dog in a closed car–even with the windows slightly cracked. Vehicles can heat up to dangerous temperatures in a matter of minutes. On a day that is 73℉ car’s interior temperature can rise to 100℉ in just 25 minutes. If you must travel with your dog, leave the windows down or AC on so that air will circulate, and park your car in the shade. Additionally, it’s a good idea to leave a bowl of water on the floor so that they can stay hydrated.
10. Sunburn Can Be Quite Serious
Believe it or not, dogs can get sunburned. Your dog’s nose and ears are particularly vulnerable to sunburn. Dogs with thin coats, especially those with pink skin you can easily see beneath their fur, are highly susceptible to sunburn on their backs and heads.
Even if your dog doesn’t get a severe burn, long-term repeated exposure to the sun without protection can result in a higher disposition for skin cancer. So, if you are going for a long walk on a sunny summer day, apply a little dog-friendly sunblock according to the instructions. Don’t forget to use your sunscreen too!
11. Paw Burns
Protect your pup’s paws from serious burns. Avoid long walks on asphalt, sand, and astroturf and always check the surface before allowing your dog to walk on it. If you cannot hold your hand comfortably on the surface for more than 7 seconds, it’s too hot for your dog.
12. Insect Bites & Stings
Insect bites and stings can bother your dog quite a bit. If your dog has an allergy to bees, wasps, ants, and other stinging insects, a simple sting can result in their body going into shock.
If your dog gets bit or stung, be mindful of their symptoms and check to see if the stinger is still embedded (if so, remove it). Hives, vomiting, and diarrhea require a call or visit to your vet. If the spot is simply itchy, put a little ice in a wet cloth, and apply it to the area.
13. Loose Window Screens
While not an obvious danger, unsecured screens can result in injury or your dog becoming disoriented and lost. How so? There are plenty of exciting things happening right outside your windows: birds, squirrels, and even the mailman delivering packages. A curious or excited dog can easily push the screen out while investigating or barking. The result: a tumble to the ground below and the possibility of your dog wandering off.
General Summer Precautions
As the weather heats up, there are some simple things that you can do to help your dog cope with the sweltering temperatures.
Create Opportunities for Your Dog to Cool Down
Summertime snacks can help cool your dog down from the inside. Cooling snacks are easy to make and can also increase your dog’s hydration. Simply, use an ice tray, and freeze broth with healthy snacks such as peas, carrots, and healthy, protein-rich dog snacks like Vroomies!
You Cannot Provide Your Dog with Too Much Water!
Keep water bowls full and where your dog can easily access them. If your dog is spending time outside, keep their water in a shaded location. Remember to replace and add fresh water daily to outdoor bowls, so they don’t become a breeding ground for mosquitoes and algae.
Life is good in the shade
If you are letting your dog play outside, make sure that they have a place that is shaded. They can overheat quickly, and they will really appreciate a nice, shady spot where they can take a nap.
Keep Your Dog Dressed for the Weather
A wet bandana or cooling neck wrap can do wonders for your dog in the heat. These simple solutions not only keep your dog comfortable in summer, but they’re also adorable.
Plan Your Dog’s Summer Fun with Precautions
Summer is a great time for you to get out and have fun with your four-footed friend. Don’t let dangers keep you stuck indoors every day–just take some precautions to protect your pup and be mindful of things that could harm your dog. With a little care and preparation, you and your dog will have a long and happy summer together.