Summertime Health Hazards

Pet Tales
by Barry B. Burtis D.V.M.

It's summertime and the living is easy. Soak up the sun. Spend some time at the cottage. Take a break and enjoy the holiday season. Eat and enjoy the tastes of summer. Let's party! No question, it's an exciting time of year. Nothing against having fun, but don't forget to be responsible, either. That's the reason to remember these seven summer safety tips for pets.

Make sure the basics are covered. Odds are your pet will be out and about more often. Make sure the pet is properly identified. If not micro-chipped, have a tag with up-to-date information on their collar and remember walks on a leash are safest. Vaccinations and flea, tick and heartworm protection need to be current.

2) Pets, like people, need to follow water safety rules. Not all dogs are strong, natural     
     swimmers. Whether it's a pool, beach or lake swim, they need a buddy nearby just 
     as we do. Be conscious of strong currents or dangerous undertows. Also, if it's 
     ocean action your pet indulges in, salt water being swallowed can cause upset

Despite the heat, try to keep cool. A better time for a walk or outside exercise may be
     early in the morning or the evening. Allow pets free access to fresh water, especially 
     after exercise. Always be aware of the threat of heat stroke. Whether inside cars or
     outside in hot, humid conditions heat stroke can develop quickly and become life
     threatening. Be on the lookout for early signs of the problem - excessive panting, 
     drooling, bright red gums, weakness and balance problems. Laboured breathing
     lethargy and seizures can follow. Cool down an overheated pet with cold water or 
     cold towels, offering ice chips or small bowls of water and consult a veterinarian.

4) Taking your pet with you for a car ride with you is fine, but there are some things to
    keep in mind. Never leave them inside on hot days with the windows up or down. A
    pet's head should stay inside the car while driving. Eye infections, head injury and
    other dangers can result from riding with their head window. It's best to buckle up a
    pet with a seat belt and never let a dog ride in the back of a pickup truck. There are
    good medications to prevent motion sickness for pets traveling to the cottage.

Party with care. Be very careful with party foods that can be dangerous for your pets.
    Chocolate, raisins, onions, mushrooms, avocados and grapes can cause big
    problems. Corn cobs, bones, peach pits - in fact, pits from any fruit - and other
    picnic fare can be a real hazard if eaten by a pet. Alcohol is a no-no for pets.

Fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and black flies can be real warm weather nuisances. Check
    with your veterinarian on the best way to protect a pet against the bites from these
    insects. Sunscreen can be used safely on susceptible pets who may be need extra
    protection from the sun's harmful rays.

Garden supplies, insecticides, rodenticides and fertilizers need to be stored safely out 
    of the reach of our pets. Pets should avoid areas in the yard that have been treated
    with any chemicals or gardens where slug bait is used. Access to compost heaps and 
    household garbage needs to be strictly prevented for pets.

Attention to these summer safety rules helps to assure a super season for all pets. Barry Burtis is a local companion animal veterinarian. Past Pet tales can be found at