Summer Pet Safety

Summer Pet Safety

Happy Summer!
Dr. Shaw
Home Vet

Humane Society
Summertime brings a unique set of problems for your dog. In Florida we have a lot of thunderstorms, fireworks and extreme heat during the summer months. Your dog is looking to you as their protector.
Your dog knows a storm is coming long before you do by the change of air pressure. It’s at this time that you should take precautions to help your dog. Distract him by turning on the TV or radio, playing with him and comforting him. If your dog uses a thunder shirt put it on him before the storm starts, not during the storm. “I never tried a thunder shirt until I had a dog that was afraid of loud noises. I am a firm believer they work. But the key is putting the thunder shirt on her before thunder or fireworks start,” said Dr. Julie Hollifield, Humane Society Medical Director. If your pet is still having problems, your vet can prescribe medication similar to human medication. But do not give your dog human medication because you can unintentionally poison your dog due to dosage differences.

Everyone is aware of how hot it gets in Florida during the summer. Every summer thousands of dogs die from heat stroke, but some dogs are more prone to heat strokes than others. Breeds that are at a bigger disadvantage in the heat are dogs with smooshed faces (brachycephalic) such as pugs, boxers, English bulldogs and Pekingese. These dogs have to pant heavily to cool themselves, which swells the tissue in their throat making it even harder to breathe. Other things that can lead to heat stroke are: running with your dog, long walks, leaving your dog in your car with the ignition off and leaving your dog in the yard without shade. Another important thing to remember is understanding how you dog’s fur works. Their thick fur acts as an insulator, keeping cool air in during the summer and warm air in during the winter. “People think dogs with thick coats feel the same as people wearing a fur coat during the summer. But that is not an accurate analogy. A dog’s fur coat keeps them cool,” said Dr. Julie Hollifield. Although people shave their dog’s long hair in the summer, it’s actually taking away a cooling mechanism they have and depending on the color of their skin, may be subjecting them to sunburn.

Pet Safety In The Heat

BY ROBERT RILL, DVM at University Park Animal Clinic


Many pet owners think that shaving their pet’s coat will keep them cooler. The facts are just the opposite.

Dogs and cats have very few sweat glands only located around the muzzle and foot pads. They essentially do not sweat and depend on respiratory evaporation for their cooling mechanism. The coat acts like an insulator. When reduced to less than ½ inch in length, the pet is actually prone to overheating and potential heat stroke.

Short nose breeds like pugs and bulldogs are particularly at risk. Remember too, its not only the temperature in degrees, but the relative humidity that is important when your pet is outside. Dogs and cats respire at nearly 100% relative humidity. When the outside is already at 85-90% humidity, their ability to exchange heat through evaporation and receive effective heat loss is compromised.


Exercising your pet before 10 am and after 6 pm lessens the possibility of overheating. It’s a good idea to always carry a bottle of water when walking your pet outdoors to serve as fluid replacement or to cool their head and neck to help prevent the possibility of a heat stroke.


Signs of “Heat Stroke” include severe, forceful panting, bright or dark color to the tongue and gums, diarrhea, staggering, a panic appearance, and possible seizure or coma. If heat stroke is suspected, the pet should be immediately cooled (especially the head and neck) with “COOL” (not cold) water from any available source and rushed to the nearest veterinarian or emergency center.


As we spend more activities at the pool or beach, close observation of our pet’s activities is important. Every year the tragedy of pool drowning of a beloved pet reoccurs. Even leaving that screen door ajar or not securing the child-safe pool barrier can have a devastating result. Attaching a heavy rubber mat to the pool exit can offer an accessible escape for a panicked pet that has fallen into the water. Pet Life Jackets provide additional security around the pool, at the lake, or beach.


At the beach, remember that July through August is stingray mating season with thousands appearing in our shallow waters. Dogs frolicking in the surf can suffer the penetrating barbs and pain, often with subsequent infections. Dogs may explore and consume dead or dying sea life on the sand leading to toxic or gastrointestinal illness.


Pet foot pads have thick, tough surfaces but still can receive thermal burns from hot sand, sidewalks, and street asphalt. Walking your pet in the shade or on grass will keep their pads cooler.


Summer also brings out the bugs! Frequent contacts with bees, hornets, wasps, spiders, and fire ants happen. After contact, if a pet demonstrates severe facial or extremity swelling, shortness of breath, generalized hives, or vomiting—”SEEK A VETERINARIAN OR EMERGENCY CLINIC” for evaluation and/or treatment. Home treatment with Benadryl may not be effective.


Ear infections are more frequent during this time of the year resulting from high humidity, yeast, and water contact. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations for prevention of otitis (ear infection).


When traveling with your pet, a few good suggestions would be to make sure your pet is secure. A buckled up harness or a pet carrier safely secured, makes traveling with your pet a much more enjoyable and safe arrangement.

Keep in mind, that one should “NEVER” leave your pet alone and “NEVER“ leave your pet in a closed vehicle. Even a slightly cracked window can be a fatal situation upon your return to the vehicle.

Always keep a leash available!


A major consideration for you as a pet owner, is to have proper identification (ie: micro-chipping) done by your veterinarian, which makes your pet easily identified if ever lost from the family.

Spotting potential hazards, which there are many, and making the appropriate adjustments can provide a SAFE and HAPPY summertime for your pet.

Dr. Julie Hollifield, Humane Society of Manatee County Medical Director
How to Work with a Dog who is afraid of Thunder
What NOT to do:
????Attempting to reassure your dog when she is afraid may reinforce her fearful behavior. If you pet, soothe or
give treats to her when she is behaving fearfully, she may interpret this as a reward for her fearful behavior.
Instead, try to behave normally, as if you do not notice her fearfulness.
????????Putting your dog in a crate to prevent her from being destructive during a thunderstorm is not
recommended. She will still be afraid when she is in the crate and is likely to injure herself, perhaps even
severely, while attempting to get out of the crate.
????????Do not punish your dog for being afraid. Punishment will only make her more fearful.
????????Do not try to force your dog to experience or be close to the sound that frightens her. For example, making
her stay close to a group of children who are lighting firecrackers will only make her more afraid, and could
cause her to become aggressive in an attempt to escape from the situation.
????????Obedience classes will not make your dog less afraid of thunder or other noises, but could help boost her
general confidence.


Written by Kristen Moran

3 Comment responses

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    September 10, 2014

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    September 26, 2014

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