Barbecues and picnics, walks outside, and warm sunshine…these are just some of the fun summer activities that can be enjoyed with your pet. You can help keep a trip to the ER off your list with these summertime pet safety tips.
At the Barbecue
- Steer clear of sharing food. Eating hot dogs, brats, burgers, and other picnic favorites can do more than cause an upset stomach. It can lead to pancreatitis, a serious illness for pets. Another potential danger is corn on the cob. Pets can swallow chunks that are not digestible, causing a blockage in their gastrointestinal tract that could cause the need for emergency surgery.
- Keep alcoholic beverages away. Alcohol is poisonous for pets so make sure drinks are out of reach and clean up any spills.
- Beware of the grill. Make sure you don’t leave a pet unattended around a hot grill and grill tools. They won’t understand the danger of the grill and may be tempted to steal a bite directly from the burner. Also watch pets around the areas where the grease drips off the grill or grill tools are hung. Some pets have been known to lick the dripping grease or even the steel-bristled grate cleaning tool which can lead to injury or illness. If you’re using charcoal, keep in mind that briquettes can also seem like a fun treat for a curious pet but are dangerous if ingested.
- Clean up and secure trash. It can be easy to leave the leftovers sitting on the picnic table for later or toss items in an open trash bag or container. A curious pet may decide to help you clean the table or rummage through the trash. Ensure sandwich, potato chip, and other snack bags are out of reach as a pet can suffocate if their nose becomes trapped. It’s also a good idea to make sure trash bags are off limits and put lids on trash cans to help keep pets from digging through to find those leftovers.
When Watching Fireworks
Every year, pets are lost, hurt, or even killed after being frightened by fireworks. The loud bangs can spark fearful behaviors in pets ranging from mild and non-harmful to destructive. The mild and non-harmful behaviors include whining, keeping close to their owners for support, and trying to seek a hiding place.
Other pets that are extremely fearful of fireworks can get worked up enough to injure themselves or damage their surroundings. If your pet is afraid of fireworks, give them a safe spot to hide and help drown out the noise by turning on music. For very fearful pets, ask your family veterinarian if prescription medications may help. You can find more tips on helping your pet during fireworks.
While Enjoying the Great Outdoors
- Watch open windows and balconies. Every year our ERs treat pets that have fallen or jumped from open windows, balconies, and decks. Injuries can be extensive, and sometimes the pet cannot be saved. Pets should be kept away from open windows and safely secured with a harness leash held by a responsible adult when on a balcony or raised deck.
- Protection from the sun. Did you know that your pet can get a sunburn? Their fur coats can help protect their skin but may not provide complete protection. This can especially be an issue for hairless breeds. Be sure to use a sunscreen formula specifically made for your pet.
- Plant safely. Be thoughtful about the plants you’re putting in your yard or garden. Certain plants can be dangerous to your pet. You’ll also want to be aware of any herbicides and pesticides you’re using in your yard as they can also be poisonous to pets. Be sure to read labels and carefully follow instructions.
- Keep your pet safe around water. Water safety is extremely important, whether at the pool, beach, lake, or along a river. The most important thing you can do is keep a watchful eye on your pet. If you will regularly be around water, you should teach your pet to swim and invest in an appropriate life vest. You can view additional considerations for keeping your pet safe around the water here.
When Encountering Critters
- Protecting against insects. It’s not just about itchy bug bites. Fleas, ticks, and mosquitos are dangerous parasites that carry harmful diseases. Make sure your pet is up to date on vaccines and use flea and tick preventatives. It’s also a good idea not to use bug sprays made for humans on your pet. Instead, use products made specifically to protect them from these insects and carefully follow instructions for use and application.
- Watch out for snakes. Curious pets can end up getting too close to a snake that doesn’t want to say hello. Make sure you have your pet on a leash during walks and stay on marked trails. If you come across a snake, stay calm and move your pet slowly away from it. If your pet is bitten, try to identify whether the snake is venomous or not, and contact your veterinarian right away. Here are more tips for dealing with snakes.
- Protect from predators. Based on where you live in the country, there can be native wildlife that could be dangerous to your pet such as coyotes or bears. Don’t leave small pets outside unsupervised, especially at dawn, dusk, or nighttime, and avoid walking near the edge of the woods at night. Keep lids on trashcans and store pet food indoors so as not to draw unwanted attention from local wildlife.
- Stay away from skunks. If your curious pet tries to make friends with a skunk, they may end up in a stinky, and potentially dangerous, situation. Skunks can spray up to 16 feet away, and the spray often causes issues like drooling, conjunctivitis, squinting, temporary blindness, and vomiting. Check out our at-home recipe to remove skunk oils and odor.
When Temperatures Rise
- Beware of hot pavement. Hot pavement can harm your pet’s paws. If the air temperature is 87 degrees, the asphalt could be as high as 143 degrees. Place the back of your hand on the pavement for seven seconds. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your pet’s paws. Instead, walk them on grass or in the cooler parts of the day.
- Find shade. Ensure that your pet has access to cool shade when outdoors. Whether it’s shade from trees or from a temporary structure you put up (even a large umbrella can help), the temperature in the shade can be up to 10 degrees cooler than in the direct sunlight. Other ways you can help keep your pet cool are to turn on a hose or sprinkler, fill a kiddie pool with fresh water, or add ice cubes to their water bowl.
- Limit heat exposure. Limit time spent outside and walks and other exercise to the cooler parts of the day, especially for more intense activities such as jogging or running. Make sure you also work up to exercise. If a pet is accompanying you on longer walks, jogs, or runs, they need proper conditioning, or they can suffer from injuries just like humans.
- Never leave your pet alone in the car. The inside of a car can heat up to 100 degrees in less than 10 minutes on an 80-degree day.
- Stay hydrated. Your pet should always have access to fresh, clean water. Your pet should be drinking 1 ounce of water for 1 pound of body weight. Be careful that they don’t drink too much though. An over-indulgent pet can get water intoxication which can result in loss of coordination, lethargy, bloating, vomiting, glazed eyes, excessive salivation, difficulty breathing, seizures, or coma.
Here’s to a Safe Summer
Even the most vigilant pet owners can end up with a pet emergency. Talk to your family veterinarian about dangers specific to your local area and ensure your pet is up to date on vaccines and medications that can help keep them healthy and safe. If your pet does experience an emergency, bring them to your nearest MedVet for emergency care.