Vet Point of View: The Dangers of Summer for Pets

Dr. Joanna Bronson

Summer is fun, summer is frolicking, and summer can be dangerous for pets.

With the heavy rains in early spring and the record heat and humidity index in early June, many pets feel uncomfortable and may face dangerous situations.

Number one on the safety list is not letting animals in a car, even with the air conditioner on and the car running. Cars can literally cook their contents in minutes. If pets do not die, they may suffer irreversible organ damage. Please leave pets at home and never unattended in a car.

Limit exercise on hot days and exercise early in the morning or evening. Asphalt can burn the animal’s paws even after dark because the heat has been stored all day, so it is best to walk on grass. Always carry water so he can drink.

Dogs can easily overheat during the summer. All dogs are susceptible, but some breeds are particularly at risk of developing respiratory problems from overexertion: Pugs, French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Boxers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, Pekingese, Affenpinchers, Japanese Chins , Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Lhasa Apsos and Brussels Griffons are first on the endangered species list.

Dogs pant to cool off, but continuous panting can be a sign that your dog is overheated and in distress. Don’t try to cool him down all at once, instead use room temperature water to try and soak his feat and run water through his mouth before you go to your vet.

Light-colored dogs are very susceptible to sunburn and the development of skin cancer, especially on their ears. Limit their exposure to the sun during the hottest part of the day.

Outdoor pets need plenty of shade and water. Dog houses can trap heat inside and quickly overheat a pet.

Shaving a dog with a thick coat is generally not a good idea unless there are other circumstances such as matted fur. A thick coat is designed as a form of air conditioning unit in some breeds, as the multiple layers help maintain his body temperature closest to normal for him. Shaving it can actually increase the possibility of developing heatstroke and sunburn.

The pests thrive during the summer. Keeping your pet on flea and tick prevention and checking him for ticks when he comes indoors will help keep these annoying and dangerous pests under control.

Heartworm prevention is an ongoing concern because once a pet catches heartworms, treatment is harsh, time-consuming and expensive, and permanent damage may have been done to their health.

Dog parks, boarding houses, and travel promote disease transmission. Vaccines should always be up to date.

Stray and lost pets seem to be more important during the warmer months. Microchips and name tags with phone numbers and addresses can reunite animals faster. Intact pets are more likely to wander off when looking for mating opportunities.

Neutered and neutered animals do not have this need.

Not all dogs can swim. Some dogs are structurally not fit for swimming. Short-snouted (brachycephalic) dogs such as pugs, bulldogs, Boston terriers have trouble keeping their noses and mouths above the waterline, which weighs down their backs and causes them to sink.

Short-legged dogs like dachshunds, basset hounds, and bulldogs can swim but aren’t very good swimmers. Basset Hounds and Bulldogs also have very dense bodies, which makes it difficult for them to stay afloat.

Maltese dogs are prone to chills, arthritis and rheumatism and should not go swimming. Never leave a dog unattended near a body of water or a swimming pool.

There are 3 main causes of skin allergies. These are flea allergy dermatitis, food allergies and environmental allergens. Your veterinarian can determine the cause and treatment for each.

Suspected allergies should be inspected as excessive scratching can lead to large scale infections.

Dogs can also suffer from red, watery, itchy eyes. There are many topical ointments to relieve it.

Acute allergic reactions can occur when a dog is stung by a bee or eats something harmful. These are RED ALERT situations and should be addressed as soon as possible.

Picnics are fun but the food can be dangerous for our pets. Close supervision of food and drink should be maintained to ensure the safety of pets.

Access to any medication or recreational drug is always a serious concern. A complete list of hazardous items can be viewed online at the ASPCA Poison Control Center or call 1-888-426-4435 if you have any concerns.

Dr Joanna Bronson of Bronson Veterinary Services, located at 452 W. Central Road, Coldwater. Contact her at (517) 369-2161 or visit

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