Summer has several dangers for pets that people may not think about. Like humans, dogs and cats get dehydrated and overheated. Providing adequate water and shade are a given, but what about the hidden dangers that summer poses for pets?
1 – Heat stroke. It’s not unprecedented for animals to suffer heat stroke, and there are several types of dogs that have an increased risk for this. Breeds with shorter noses like bulldogs, Boston terriers, and boxers aren’t able to cool themselves as efficiently as other breeds. Active breeds, such as the Labrador retriever, get so focused on their rigorous activities that they don’t stop long enough to cool off.
Dogs have an normal body temperature that is already slightly higher than that of humans–100 to 102.5 F. Their internal temperature can rapidly reach 109 F in the summer months. When this happens, dogs may develop multiple organ dysfunctions and it can be fatal. Signs of heat stroke include panting, excessive drooling, lack of urine, and rapid heart rate.
If your pet shows signs of a heat stroke, cool them down by putting them in a shaded water and offer cool water. Don’t force them to drink, but offer it. Place a fan directly on your pet and put water or wet towels over their neck, back, underarm area, and groin area. Whatever you do, don’t put ice or ice water on your pet because it can cause blood vessels to shrink and not effectively cool the inner body.
2 – Other animals or insects. This is another hidden danger of summer for pets. Bee stings, spider bites, and venomous snakebites aren’t unusual this time of year. A bad reaction can leave a dog with a swollen muzzle and an untreated wound can lead to necrosis of the skin.
If your dog gets a bee or insect sting, attempt removing a visible stinger by scraping it out of the skin with a credit card. A cool compress to the area with a mixture of baking soda and water will aid in neutralizing the venom.
Keep an eye out for your pet swiping its paw across its face, which could mean it has a bite or other irritation that you can’t see. If your animal’s face swells or your pet has difficulty breathing, seek a veterinarian’s help immediately. In the event of a snakebite, a veterinarian can administer an anti-venom shot.
The number of fleas and ticks greatly increase during the summer months. Be sure that your pet is receiving effective flea and tick prevention treatment.
3 – Sunburn. Even though pets are covered with fur, pets aren’t immune to sunburn, especially when the sun is exposed to areas of the animal that has minimal hair, such as the belly and tip of the nose.
For dogs, there are specific types of sunscreen made for them. Human sunscreen can be dangerous since it contains zinc, which is toxic if it’s swallowed.
4 – Burned paw pads. Cats and dogs have a hard time handling extreme temperatures. We walk around wearing shoes, so we don’t often notice the temperature of the surfaces we walk on. Dogs and cats, of course, are walking right on the heated surfaces with no protection. With the sun baking hard surfaces like asphalt and cement, it can be painful for pets to walk on. Add to that, the potential of chemicals or hazardous objects like glass shards presenting a problem during summer parties.
If you notice your pet is limping or stumbling, take it to a veterinarian for examination. Try keeping your dog or cat on the cooler grass instead of hot surfaces like asphalt and cement.
5 – Bacteria or algae in still water and puddles. A danger to pets during summer in stagnant water or puddles is a condition known as Giardiasis. It results from a parasite known as giardia lamblia found in still water areas. Giardiasis is an intestinal illness with symptoms of diarrhea, dehydration, and upset stomach. Some lakes and small bodies of water can develop a toxic algae in the summer months that is toxic to both humans and animals if consumed. Be aware of any health reports that may affect water near you.
6 – Leptospirosis is another danger to pets as well as humans. It’s a bacterial infection that can affect many animals, including dogs. It may cause liver and kidney damage — and possibly organ failure. The Centers for Disease Control reveals that the occurrence of Leptospirosis is more commons in pets than it has been in the past. The bacteria that cause Leptospirosis are spread through the urine of infected animals, gets into water or soil and can survive there for weeks to months.
7 – Allergies. Animals are more likely to suffer from summertime seasonal allergies, which commonly cause ear infections and itchy skin. Dogs and cats can get hay fever like humans, but their symptoms are usually itchy skin and bad ear infections rather than sinus issues.
One way to treat ear infections is by cleaning the ears with a veterinary prescribed ear-cleaning solution once a month, or as recommended. The solution is meant to prevent wax buildup, which makes the infection worse. Refrain from using cotton swabs in your pet’s ears.
While you’re out having a good time this summer, keep an eye out for these hidden dangers, and keep your pet safe!