summer activities we all enjoy can be dangerous for our
furry friends, largely due to the intense heat.
are some things to watch out for, to keep our pets safe.
Heat stroke or heat stress. Leaving your pet outside or
in the car for too long can lead to heat stroke or
stress. Tara Lynn, communications manager at the SPCA of
Wake County, said the temperature inside a car can get
to the point of extreme danger in less than 15 minutes.
Wages, a veterinarian at Care First Animal Hospital,
said she’s seen two dogs die of heat stroke, both
Labrador Retrievers. She said dogs will pant and not be
able to stop, which usually they would after 8 or so
minutes. "Cats will breathe with their mouth open,
which is not good. They just basically can’t cool off.
They’ll be unsettled or they’ll pace a lot. Bulldogs
and dogs with smushed heads, smaller dogs or the ones
that are really, really, really active, like a young
Lab, are more prone to having it," she said.
"Their faces around their eyes will get red, their
tongues will get red as well. Their gums will be bright
red. Sometimes they’ll vomit or have diarrhea. So when
those are happening, we are in dire straits."
also recommends making sure your pets always have access
to plenty of cool, fresh water.
Hot pavement or hot sand. Hot pavement or hot sand can
burn the pads of your pets’ feet, which is very
painful. "A good general rule is if you put the
back of your hand down on the sidewalk or the street and
leave it there for about five seconds, if it’s too hot
for you, it’s definitely going to be too hot for
them," Lynn said.
Sunburn. "Some pets, particularly dogs that have
particularly thin hair or some dogs who don’t have
much hair at all on their bellies, they can potentially
get sunburned. So talking to your vet about some safe
options for sunscreen is important," Lynn said.
Wages said Neutrogena pediatric sunscreen is safe to use
Snake bites. Snakes come out at dusk and dawn, and have
an increased presence at the beginning and end of the
summer or after a big rain, Wages said.
away from high grass areas around where there’s water.
Those are usually where those guys will lurk and
wait," she said. "Just generally, the snakes
put up a bit of a smell, so dogs and cats will be
interested and might go investigate and get bit. So if
the dog or cat seems to be interested in something in
the grass or bush area, try and get them away as quick
as you can. If they do get bit, they need to be seen by
a veterinarian as soon as they can."
Bee stings. Some dogs and cats, just like people, are
allergic to bee stings. Their faces will swell up. Wages
recommends Benadryl for bee stings, but some pets may
need something stronger, like steroids.
Fire ant bites. Wages said pets will get a rash or a
very swollen area around the bites, which are often
concentrated around legs and feet.
Hot spots. Found on dogs, these are irritated, red
lesions, similar to eczema in people. "They usually
start with a bug bite they chewed on or an area they got
wet from playing with another dog that just stayed
moist. Bacteria will grow on any moist skin, and they’ll
get infections," Wages said.
Burns from grills. "I think one of the main things
is a hot grill, and dogs smelling whatever’s cooking
on the grill and getting really close to the grill, and
depending on what kind of grill, if they get under it,
they run the risk of being burned or hot grease dropping
on them and burning them," Lynn said. "We
actually just took in three puppies from Johnston County
who had burn marks on their back. We’ll probably never
know exactly how that happened, but the way it looks, it
very well could have been a situation where they either
walked under a grill or walked under some sort of piece
of equipment and some hot liquid dropped on them."
Certain foods and plants. Raisins, grapes, garlic,
onions and chocolate are toxic to dogs, and lilies are
toxic to cats. Lynn pointed out that raw meat can upset
the stomachs of pets that aren’t accustomed to such a
diet. So keep a close eye on what they eat.
Alcoholic beverages. Dogs and cats can get drunk just
like people, but they shouldn’t. Do not give beer or
liquor (or marijuana, in any form) to your pets.
Ear infections. Ear infections are more common in the
summer months, when dogs are swimming more.
"Cleaning their ears routinely (with an appropriate
ear cleaner) will help prevent them from getting an
infection," Wages said.
Limber tail. This is when a dog has a sprained tail. It
happens when dogs are playing in the surf at the beach
and get turned over the wrong way, or if they’ve had a
very active day.
a dog’s tail is sprained, they’re injured but they
don’t know how to act. So they’ll sit there and
shake sometimes, they don’t want to stand up because
when they stand up, something hurts but they don’t
know what, so they sit down," Wages said. "It’s
really sad. Or they’ll walk along and it’s just kind
of limp behind them instead of wagging." With
treatment such as pain medication, a muscle relaxer and
sometimes laser therapy, dogs are usually better in 3 or
Drowning. While most dogs know how to swim, it’s a
good idea to put a life jacket on your dog, Wages said.
and breeds that are always in the water are fine, unless
they’re going to be swimming for awhile, in which case
I’d put a life jacket on them. If you’re out on a
boat in the ocean, I would put a life jacket on them,
because if something happens to the boat and the boat
goes over, the dog’s going to get tired of
swimming," she said. "Any older dog or dog
that has an injury of some sort – had an amputation or
one of their legs doesn’t work as well — I’d put
them in a life jacket regardless. So I’d highly
recommend life jackets."