July 1, 2019


Summer Safety Tips for Pets

by Aili V. Heintz, DVM

It is finally summer time here in Wisconsin! I know a lot of us were wondering if it would ever come this year with all the rain and cooler days we’ve had lately. Summertime is a favorite for many people. It means longer days to enjoy time outside, it means bonfires and camping, it means fireworks for the 4th of July, and it means some time to finally enjoy the sun and warmth.Summer safety tips for pets

Summer is also a time that many pets love, too, because they get to spend more time outside. Pets enjoy walks with their families or perhaps even a swim in a lake or pool. However, some of our favorite summer activities could be stressful, and perhaps even risky, for your pet. Below are some things to keep in mind this summer so you can keep your pet safe, protected, and happy.

1) Fun in the Sun

The warm sun is a welcome sign of summer. Please remember though, your pet can become overheated and can get heat exhaustion. Make sure that you give your pet plenty of breaks if you are outside playing or swimming. Provide your pet with fresh water to drink and a shady spot to prevent her from overheating.

Some pets, particularly those with thinner coats or white-coated pets, may be more prone to sunburn. Sunburn usually occurs on the tips of ears and on the top of the nose, but it can also occur on the belly where there isn’t a lot of fur covering your pet’s skin. Pet-safe sunscreens are available, but be sure to give your pet plenty of time in the shade to reduce her risk of sunburn.

The warm summer sun also can cause the roads and trails to heat up. We don’t tend to notice it much because we are wearing shoes or sandals. But for our pets, those warm pavements can not only be painful but they can also cause significant burns to the feet. Before going on a walk with your pet, touch the pavement first to ensure that the walkway isn’t too hot. If it’s too hot for you to touch it, then it’s too hot for your pet’s feet.

2) Fireworks and celebrations

Summer is typically full of celebrations, family gatherings, and a good ole fireworks show and sparklers. I don’t know about you, but these are some of the things I look forward to the most! Fireworks, although beautiful to watch, can be quite loud and scary to both people and pets. Please make sure that your pet is securely in the house during fireworks. This simple step can prevent your pet from becoming spooked and running away, but it can also keep him safe from the sparks of the fireworks.

Daytime celebrations bring added visitors and delicious summer cookouts. Extra people may be a source of anxiety for your pet. Make sure that he gets time away from the crowd and has a safe and comfortable spot to rest without all the hustle and stress.

If your dog is anything like mine, he sees people at a cookout and has one thing on his mind…food! Table scraps can cause your pet to have an upset belly. Unfortunately, that upset belly may lead to diarrhea and vomiting (and no one wants to have a sick dog in a house filled with guests). In some cases, fatty foods can lead to a more serious problem of pancreatitis. If your pet develops pancreatitis, he may have to spend several days (and many dollars) at a vet clinic in order to feel better.

3) Increased exposure to fleas and tickssummer safety tips for pets

After a long, cold winter, many of us who live in Wisconsin get “cabin fever” and can’t wait to go outside to enjoy the fresh air. Summer definitely delivers on the beautiful weather! We are thrilled to take more walks with our pets and spend more time in our yards. But we aren’t the only ones who enjoy the beautiful weather. Mosquitos and ticks come out in full force as soon as the weather gets nice.

These insects are not only a nuisance to us and our pets, but they can also carry diseases. Our pets can contract heartworm disease (carried by mosquitos) and tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and ehrlichiosis. These diseases can be expensive to treat, and they can cause some major health problems for our pets. Heartworm prevention (monthly) along with flea and tick protection is critical to help protect your pet. If you are unsure about which products work best for your pet and your lifestyle, please consult with your veterinarian.

4) Time to cool off in the pool

On a hot summer day, there is no better way to cool off and get refreshed than jumping into the pool or lake. Many of our pets feel the same way too! Just remember to dry your pets well after swimming. For some pets, if too much water that gets trapped in her undercoat, she can actually get a skin infection called a “hot spot.” It is also important that you clean your pet’s ears after she swims, using a special ear-cleaning product for pets. Pet ear cleaners have a drying agent in them that actually help get all the water out from inside the ear. Drying the ears completely reduces your pet’s chances of developing an ear infection.

Summer never seems to last long enough. Take some time to slow down and enjoy it; enjoy the longer days and extra family time. But, don’t forget to protect your pets!


Dr. Heintz is a small and exotic animal veterinarian at Countrycare Animal Complex in Green Bay, WI. She earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign. Her passion is helping all animals, whether furry, scaly, or feathered, lead long and healthy lives.