The top 5 summer pet hazards - BC SPCA
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The top 5 summer pet hazards

July 31, 2018

With the summer season comes a new round of things for you and your pet to enjoy together. While it’s easy to become distracted with the fun activities, it’s important to plan ahead and make your pet’s safety a priority by watching out for some of these potential hazards that come with the warmer weather.


Warmer days mean warmer pets. To keep them cool, ensure the following.

Cat drinking out of bowl on wood floor

Outdoor excursions

Taking your pet out for a hike, overnight camping, or even some paddle boarding, is a great way to enjoy the outdoors together. To keep them safe, remember the following.

  • Make sure your animal’s vaccinations are up-to-date before they explore the great outdoors. You never know what kinds of viruses other animals – like raccoons, for instance – may be carrying.
  • Sign them up for the B.C. Pet Registry. That way if they dart off, you’ll have a much better chance at finding them if they have the proper identification and are in the registry database. If your pet is already registered, make sure your information is up-to-date.
  • If you’re heading out on the water, prep for your pet’s safety, too. Does your dog have a life vest to wear while on the boat? Ensure they are properly secured to the vessel. And while you may think it’s cute to watch your pup attempt to doggy paddle, not all animals are comfortable in water – be it a lake or a pool. Never force your pet to swim.
  • If you’re planning to go on a long hike with your dog, bring essentials for them, too. Just as you would pack your own food to eat and water to drink, it’s a good idea to do the same for them. Don’t forget a pet travel bowl or a pet first aid kit.

Merch shot of packable water bowl with dog drinking out of bowl

Family picnics

Party food is great for humans – not so much for pets. Before you set that picnic blanket down, make sure your dog can’t get into the following dangerous or poisonous picnic foods.

  • Cooked meat bones can become a choking hazard. Cooked bones can easily splinter when chewed by your dog; the splinters can cause damage when chewed and/or swallowed.
  • Onions, garlic and grapes can all cause gastrointestinal problems. Not to mention they contain toxins, which can also be extremely harmful to your pooch.
  • Chocolate is another food that your pet should avoid. Chocolate usually contains caffeine as well as theobromine and theophylline, which can be toxic and cause panting, vomiting and diarrhea, and/or damage your dog’s heart and nervous systems.
  • Corn on the cob. The cob can get lodged in the small intestine, and if it’s not removed surgically, can prove fatal to your dog

Instead, make sure your dog has their own food to eat. You can even freeze doggie-safe options inside a Kong to not only keep them fed – but also keep them cool.

It’s also a good idea to make sure areas where cooking and food preparation are being done are safe for your dog. Have a covered container available to collect bones from grilled chicken, ribs and other meats. You can also use the lid on the grill to prevent curious dogs from putting their paws up on a hot grill.

Bug bites and stings

We aren’t the only ones who need to worry about bug bites in the summer. Pets can suffer from them too. In fact, you shouldn’t take bug bites and stings lightly when it comes to pets since life-threatening bacteria, viruses and parasites can be transmitted to your pets through them.

  • Ticks can wreak havoc on an animal, especially as your dog will spend most of their time outside. The tiny parasites feed off the blood of hosts, including dogs and cats. Tick bites and tick-borne diseases, like Lyme disease, can be hard to detect. It can take anywhere between seven and 21 days (or longer) for the symptoms to present themselves.

There are a number of safe medications out there to take advantage of. Be diligent with tick checks, and if you find one, remove it or have your veterinarian remove it right away.

  • Bee, hornet and wasp stings are something else to watch out for. Since animals tend to investigate the world using their noses and paws, those spots are often where cats and dogs get stung. In most cases, you will see mild swelling and tenderness in the affected area. You can reduce the swelling by applying a cold compress.

It’s important to remove the stinger as soon as possible. Never try to squeeze the stinger out, as it could rupture the venom sac, exposing your pet to more venom. Benadryl should not be given to an animal unless your veterinarian has said it’s okay.

Sometimes animals may be severely allergic to stings. If your pet starts to vomit within five to 10 minutes and their gums become pale, they could be going into anaphylactic shock. You should seek help from a vet immediately.

Summer Toxins

There are a number of items that we often use during the summer, which can be toxic for our furry friend. The most common ones include:

  • Sunscreen.  If you are considering applying sunscreen to your pet, talk to your veterinarian first. Depending on your dog’s situation, the benefits may outweigh the risk. If you do decide to put sunscreen on your dog, a pet or baby formula should be used. Regardless of what you choose, make sure your dog doesn’t ingest the sunscreen.
  • Gardening products. Our gardens may also serve as a spot for our dogs and cats to ingest plant bulbs, fertilizers and lawn products, some of which can be quite bad for their health. Take advantage of non-toxic options when tending to your plants so that your pet can frolic without worry.

Happy dog with tongue out smiling while lying down outdoors in a garden on top of dirt and plants

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Toxic for dogs: What to avoid feeding Fido

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