Summer Pet Safety

Summer Pet Safety

In recent years, we have become much more aware of the dangers of leaving pets in the car during hot weather. Because the heat inside a parked vehicle can become extremely hot in a matter of minutes, leaving a dog or other animal inside can be lethal. Just don’t do it! If you know that you’ll be going somewhere where your animal is not welcome, either leave your pet at home, or make arrangements for someone to walk the pet while you’re inside the location. But there are other safety issues for our pets during the warmer months, too. Here are a few safety tips to make sure that your pet has a happy and safe summer:


  • Heat Stroke. The Ontario Veterinary Medical Association defines heat stroke as “when your pet’s body isn't able to cope with the external heat, leading to illness, organ failure and even death.” Be sure to monitor your pets any time that they’re outside or in a hot space. They can quickly become overwhelmed by heat and/or physical activity. Some signs that your pet may be in trouble include:
    • Excessive panting
  • Ticks. Both animals and humans are at greater risk of tick bites and Lyme disease due to global warming. When you can, avoid letting your pet roam through long grasses or through bushes or leaf cover. If you find a tick, remove it right away; you can find tick removal tools at better pet stores. Not all ticks carry Lyme Disease, but black-legged ticks do, and they’re currently on the rise in Ontario. If your pet is bitten by a black-legged tick, there are medications available to counteract Lyme Disease, but you should see a vet as soon as possible.
  • Other Insects. While ticks are getting a lot of publicity, dogs and cats can also be impacted by other types of insect bites. Keep an eye out for scratching and irritated skin that may need vet attention. If you suspect fleas, don’t use an over-the-counter flea powder, as some of these can damage your pet’s health. And never use insect repellent designed for humans on your pet. Dogs have a keen sense of smell and react very strongly to even herbal types of insect repellent such as citronella. Pets also tend to try to lick off substances, and these products can be toxic.
  • Poisonous Plants. If you plan to go camping or visiting, keep an eye on the types of plants that your pet may encounter. Many seemingly-innocuous houseplants are poisonous to cats and/or dogs if eaten, including these common ones:
    • Lilies
    • Marijuana
    • 3ago Palm
    • Tulip/Narcissus bulbs
    • Azalea/Rhododendron
    • Oleander
    • Castor Bean
    • Cyclamen
    • Kalanchoe
    • Yew
    • Amaryllis
    • Autumn Crocus
    • Chrysanthemum
    • English Ivy
    • Peace Lily (AKA Mauna Loa Peace Lily)
    • Pothos
    • Schefflera
  • Water Safety. Many dogs like to swim, but it’s important to keep an eye on your pet. Make sure that they’re allowed to swim before letting them hit the water, and it’s smart to put a colourful vest on your pet so that they can be seen by boaters and other swimmers.
  • Aggressive Dogs. In the summer, more dogs are out and about, and out for longer periods of time. This increases the odds that your dog may encounter a reactive or aggressive dog. When at the off-leash dog park, be cautious, and gauge the personalities of the dogs present before allowing your dog to join in. Even while walking on a leash, dogs can lunge or bite, so be mindful of this. Although the vast majority of dogs in the city are well-trained, you may not be able to identify an aggressive dog at first glance. Of course, if your dog is aggressive or reactive, keep it muzzled and work with a dog trainer to change its behaviour.
  • Muscle twitching
  • Anxious or dazed look
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Increased drooling
  • Diarrhea

    Certain dogs are at greater risk, especially those who are overweight, or who have short faces, such as pugs and bulldogs. Cats and other small animals may also be at risk.

    While leaving a pet inside a vehicle is a leading cause of heat stroke, or heat exhaustion, it’s not the only time it can happen. On hot days, keep your dog inside, or try to walk your dog early in the morning or late in the evening, when it’s cool outside. Shorten walks. Avoid pavement whenever possible, and let them walk on grass. Pavement and sidewalks can actually burn the pads of their feet.

    Keep plenty of cool water on hand for them to drink. Allow your pets access to air conditioning, fans, or even inflatable swimming pools.

    If you suspect your pet may have heat stroke, use cool wet towels to make them more comfortable, and take them to the vet immediately.

Take steps to ensure that your pets are safe. You’ll have a happier summer knowing that Fido and Fluffy are enjoying it as much as you are!