Summer Pet Safety from Bond Vet

Jun 26 / Community

The dog days of summer have finally arrived. As we approach hot summer days and holiday get-togethers, our friends at Bond Vet, led by Medical Director Dr. Camille Alander, have rounded up a handful of helpful tips to ensure our pups remain healthy & happy throughout the season. Check out their advice to keep your four-legged friend comfortable during a 4th of July firework show and safe in the heat below, and get in touch with their team of professionals to learn more.

4th of July:

The loud noises and flashing lights can frighten them, especially since the sounds are totally unpredictable, harsh on their sensitive ears, and impossible to escape. This may make a pet perceive fireworks as a threat. Some pets are just mildly uncomfortable with the booms and crackles, while other pets experience full-blown panic. If your cat or dog is scared of fireworks, they may try to flee the home (and get lost or injured), or accidentally hurt themselves or damage your home while panicking.

Here are some tips to help keep your cat or dog calm and comfortable:

  • Take your pooch out for a long walk well before fireworks displays start.
  • Keep windows closed and pets indoors when fireworks are expected. You can go a step further by giving your pet a “safe space,” or a closed room where they feel comfortable and there’s no chance of them darting out the door. They may appreciate being surrounded by their favorite toys and a hiding space in the room, too (like under the bed for cats, or a dog bed or kennel for dogs).
  • Play background sounds, like white noise, a television show, or calming classical music.
  • Use pheromone products to help ease your cat’s or dog’s anxiety. These sprays, wipes, diffusers, and plug-ins release “scent signals” that help relax your pet. Adaptil is one popular product among dog owners. You can also ask your vet about pet-safe, natural calming supplements.
  • Try an anxiety wrap or Thundershirt, a snug vest that mimics swaddling and has a calming effect on pets (Pro-tip: If your pet is scared of thunder, use the Thundershirt during thunderstorms, too).
  • Consider medical intervention.
  • For dogs with mild fireworks anxiety, Benadryl may be an option. Since Benadryl doesn’t reduce fear (it just makes your pet sleepy), it’ll only help pets with mild symptoms. Before using Benadryl, though, ask your vet what dose is safe for your pet.
  • More fearful pets, however, may require prescription anxiety medications.
  • Desensitize your dog to loud noises and the sounds of fireworks. If your cat or dog has severe fireworks anxiety, consider working with a behaviorist, who can help your pet develop a healthier response to loud sounds. The process of desensitizing must be started weeks to months before fireworks are expected.
  • If you’re planning a display of your own, keep pets away from accessing the fireworks directly, and clean up any residues after the show. Fireworks contain substances that are toxic to pets if ingested.

Heat Safety: 

  • Avoid very high temperatures and excessive physical activity
    • Keep your pet indoors during the hottest part of the day. Plan walks and outdoor activities during cooler early mornings and evenings. And, on very hot days, keep your pup inside as much as possible — opt for short, 5-minute walks to avoid overheating.
    • Additionally, make sure to avoid strenuous exercise on hot days, especially if humidity is also high. Sometimes, dogs have so much fun that they don’t realize they’re getting overheated until it’s too late. But we, as their guardians, can help prevent this by encouraging them to take rests and cool down.
  • Consider your dog’s individual heat tolerance
    • Dogs with shorter noses (like Pugs and Bulldogs) tend to be much less adaptable to hot temperatures than many other breeds, and therefore their summer activities may need to be limited to indoor ones.
    • Young puppies, older seniors, overweight pets, or dogs with health problems might also have trouble tolerating the heat.
    • If you’re not sure what’s best for your dog, ask your veterinarian.
  • Help your dog keep cool and hydrated
    • Dogs can’t sweat like humans can. Therefore, their body’s “cooling system” isn’t always as efficient as ours. They rely more on external factors to help bring down their body temperature.
    • This includes finding a nice, cool, shady spot to relax when needed and drinking plenty of water. Other fun ways to cool down your pup include turning on the sprinklers, wading in a kiddie pool, or offering them a “pupsicle” (find recipes online). Ideally, they’d also have access to an indoor, air conditioned environment, too.
    • Even these things might not always be enough, though — so be sure to monitor your dog and keep their safety in mind when out in the summer heat.
  • Know the signs of a dog overheating (and developing potentially fatal heatstroke)
    • Some symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke include tiredness or lethargy, excessive panting, heavy drooling, difficulty breathing, a fast heart rate, difficulty walking or incoordination, unresponsiveness, vomiting or diarrhea, seizures, a bright red tongue, or collapse.
    • If you notice that your dog may be overheating, bring them to a cooler area immediately. Place them in front of a fan for air flow, and run cool water over them, or use cool packs or cool, wet towels. It’s important to make sure these things are cool and not very cold, since cold water can restrict blood flow and make cooling take longer.
    • If you’re not sure whether your dog is suffering from heatstroke, call your veterinarian or bring them to the vet to be checked right away. Heatstroke can be fatal, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Think about sunburn and dog-safe sunscreen
    • Sun exposure can result in sunburn, skin irritation, or even certain kinds of skin cancer. Sunburn might show up as redness or crusty lesions on the skin.
    • Fortunately, dog-safe sunscreens (products specifically designed for dogs) are available, which can be applied to parts of the body that are most prone to sun damage. Common sites include the ear flaps, bridge of the nose, and belly — spots where there’s not much fur coverage.
    • The most commonly affected dogs have thin and/or light-colored fur.
  • Remember, the ground is hot, too!
    • Streets, sidewalks, and other surfaces can get incredibly hot on summer days. Sometimes, this can result in painful burns on a dog’s paw pads.
    • To prevent this, try to schedule your pup’s walks or other outdoor activities in the mornings or evenings, when everything outside is cooler. Look for grassy areas or natural trails for walking. Or, consider purchasing “dog booties” or paw balm to protect your pooch’s paws.
  • Say “no” to hot cars
    • The CDC reports that the temperature inside a car can rise by nearly 20 degrees in 10 minutes, even with the window cracked open!
    • As you can imagine, this means a car can get dangerously hot in a very short time. Since this can be fatal, several states have even made it illegal to leave a dog in a car in warm weather.
    • There’s never a good reason to leave a dog alone in the car on a warm day — it’s just not worth the risk.
  • Practice precautions near water
    • If your pup loves to swim — or if they’ll be near water where they could potentially fall in — it’s important to take precautions. This includes swimming pools, as well as natural bodies of water like lakes, rivers, ponds, and the beach.
    • Here are a few swimming safety tips for pets:
    • Never leave a dog unattended in the water (or near the water where they could fall in when no one’s around). Even good swimmers can suddenly get tired, get caught in a current, or need help getting out of a pool — any of which can put them at risk of drowning.
    • Not all dogs are natural swimmers. Don’t force your pup if they’re not interested.
    • Use a doggy life vest. High visibility vests are great for lakes, etc.
    • Practice special precautions at the beach, including checking that dogs are allowed, providing shade, and protecting your dog’s paws from hot sand.
    • Don’t let your dog drink too much salt water or chlorinated water, both of which can make them sick. Keep plenty of fresh water available for them to drink. Also, rinse their fur after a swim.
  • Don’t let pests and parasites spoil the summer
    • Creepy crawlies like fleas, ticks, and other parasites enjoy warm weather, too — or at least, they can thrive and reproduce quickly during hotter times of the year. Although parasite risks exist year-round in most climates, many locales experience a surge as the weather warms up.
    • Parasites can cause scratching, allergic reactions, or even contracting infectious diseases. Some parasites can affect humans, too.
    • Make sure your dog is up to date on their flea, tick, and heartworm prevention medications. Ask your vet for their recommendation, based on your pup’s needs and the parasite risks in your area.