Here are some things to remember to ensure your pet’s safety this summer!

We all enjoy the outdoors and the nice weather, pets included.  Here are a few things I have seen happen during the summer months that may pose dangers for our fur kids.

With many families doing more outdoors- be it play or work projects-  keep in mind your pets will want to tag along.  Vets see a sharp increase in traumas of all kinds in the summer.

With pets running loose, they are at higher risk of being hit by vehicles, and not just cars.  We see many cases of pets, being hit by 4 wheelers, tractors, bicycles, motorcycles-Even rototiller and lawnmower accidents…. I once treated a springer spaniel who impaled her shoulder on a stationary rototiller blade while chasing a toy.

 One of the most common places dogs and cats can get hit is in their own driveway! Especially older pets who may be hard of hearing or slow to get out of the way.  Keep this in mind as I have seen this happen dozens of times.

 Other sources of trauma include dog and cat fights,  interactions with wildlife and livestock,  and  injuries from toys, sticks, rocks, fishhooks, ropes  and chain collars and leashes , swing sets, and leaping off of high decks  to mention a few.

Another  pet peeve of mine and many vets– are  dogs riding in pickup truck beds…. I have treated many serious injuries over the years, and seen many deaths result from this. I know the dog love it, but is it worth it?   It is so easy for them to slip or fly out of the bed on a sudden turn or bump.  A dog may see something they can’t resist chasing, and leap out even though they have never done that before. 

Another vehicle danger is one everyone knows about:  leaving pets in a hot car.  Yet vets see this happen year after year. Cars can heat up with in a minute or two on a very hot day, and leaving the window cracked or even the AC on inside cannot keep up and the car becomes a death trap. 

Vets also commonly see heat stroke.  Some dogs play too hard, do not have adequate shelter or bake themselves in the sun without knowing enough to take a break. As their owners, we need to monitor this especially when the temperature and humidity is very high.  If it is uncomfortably hot for us, it is dangerously hot for the pets too.  The only way a dog or cat can decrease their body temp is through mainly panting for dogs and foot pad sweating for cats.  If the animal has been out in the heat or playing hard and seems “ out of it”, weak or wobbly, glassy eyed and hot to the touch get it inside or into the shade and sponge, hose or immerse in tepid water , place near a fan if possible  and call a vet if the animal does not start responding right away.  Pets with heavy coats , elderly pets or animals suffering from heart or respiratory diseases are at a much higher risk of heat stroke.

 Keep water safety in mind for your pets as well. If you or a neighbor has a pool that your pet has access too, please provide a way out should a small pet fall in.  Drownings do occur especially with puppies or small dogs who fall in and are too small to reach a ladder to pull themselves out.

There are products designed for this purpose that clip on the side of the pool, and can also help wildlife clamber out if they fall in.  If you go boating, there are life jackets for dogs, especially if you are travelling at speed or far from shore. 

Other dangers on the deck or patio involve the barbeque grill and outdoor dining.  Dogs can obviously get burned on the grill when investigating the wonderful scent.  I’ve even treated a couple of burn victims due to tipping the whole grill over and spilling the hot coals in an attempt to grab a hot dog.  I have seen choking dangers or Gastro intestinal problem; some from bones, or those dogs who injure themselves on skewers and knives while licking them off, ingesting corn cobs which very often cause bowel obstructions as some dogs tend to swallow them nearly whole.  I have also seen serious illness and death caused from dogs ingesting shellfish and lobster shell remains, which splinter inside.

  Also on the deck I have seen animals be injured by various candles and torches in use to ward off the bugs.  Mainly by knocking them over and spilling the hot oil or wax on their coat.  I have also seen cats light their whiskers and tails on fire or burn their pads while investigating the party table.

In the garden and yard, be careful with your herbicide and pesticide products. Keep all pets inside until  all spraying or application is done and dry. Read the whole label to be sure you use the correct rate and manner of application. Better yet, go organic!!  I have seen so many pets become ill, usually with vague symptoms that seemed to have occurred after the lawn was treated.  The smaller the pet the bigger the danger. Cats and elderly pets are even more at risk.

Around the garage, antifreeze is still a danger in summer.  I have had several cases of dogs getting into the antifreeze used in RV’s while the owners were readying their rig for summer use.  The dog got the antifreeze from the toilet or bucket the person had used to drain the system. It has a sweet taste and most dogs will readily sample it, as well as a few cats. This poisoning is treatable if caught early, but damages the kidneys quickly so immediate vet attention is needed.

I am sure many of you could relate or have many more stories of the summer time shenanigans pets can get in to!  Stay safe and keep one step ahead of your party animals.

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