Summer is officially here, and with it comes delight and danger for your pets. Before you fire up the grill for a barbecue, or set off on an adventure with your furry friend, ensure you review the following summer safety tips.

#1: Keep your pet away from the grill

The mouthwatering aroma of a sizzling hotdog or hamburger may be irresistible for your pet, but grabbing one off the grill is a recipe for a burned mouth or paws. Pets can also be burned if they brush up against the grill, or worse, collide with it, as they frolic. The grease that drips from the grill can cause pancreatitis (i.e., a dangerous, painful inflammation of the pancreas) if ingested, or may lead to gastrointestinal (GI) obstruction if a dog decides grease-coated gravel would make a tasty snack. To avoid these mishaps, keep pets at least three feet from the grill when in use, or better yet, safely inside the house, and ensure your grill has a functional grease trap that you empty frequently in an area inaccessible to pets.

#2: Prevent your pet from eating dangerous foods

A picnic table laden with delicious food, and guests who may slip your pet a snack, can be detrimental to your pet’s health. The following barbecue items are risky for pets:

  • Greasy food — Hamburgers, steak, or other high-fat foods may cause diarrhea, vomiting, or pancreatitis
  • Corn on the cob — The corn itself isn’t dangerous, but pets who ingest corn cobs are at risk for a life-threatening GI obstruction
  • Skewers — Swallowing a barbecue skewer can cause GI perforation or obstruction 
  • Toxic foods — Grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, macadamia nuts, chocolate, or xylitol-containing baked goods are toxic to pets
  • Wrappers — Aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or food wrappers pose a GI obstruction risk, if consumed

#3: Keep your pet safe in the heat

As the temperature rises, so does the heat risk for your pet. A parked car can quickly become a death trap, reaching 102 degrees in 10 minutes, and 120 degrees in 30 minutes, on an 85-degree day. Dogs who are young, old, overweight, short-nosed, medically fragile, or have thick or dark coats are particularly susceptible to heatstroke, but any dog who is confined or exercised in a hot environment and unable to keep cool can be affected. If your dog is panting heavily, vomiting, or seizuring, has diarrhea, or a high body temperature, or collapses on a warm day, immediately rush them to Kennedy Heights Animal and Bird Hospital, or your nearest emergency hospital, as these are signs of life-threatening heatstroke. Take walks in the cooler part of the day, and provide shade and fresh water to help your pets stay cool in their fur coats. Before heading out for a walk, hold the back of your hand against the pavement to test the temperature. If you can’t comfortably keep your hand there for seven seconds, the pavement could cause painful burns to your pet’s paw pads, and the walk should be postponed, or taken in a grassy, cooler area.

#4: Schedule a wellness visit for your pet

A summer wellness visit is a great way to ensure that your pet is healthy and ready to safely participate in some summer fun. Fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes flourish in warm weather, and in addition to being annoying, can transmit Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, babesiosis, tapeworms, and heartworm disease. Regularly administer the parasite preventives our Kennedy Heights Animal and Bird Hospital team recommends, and consult with us regarding Lyme disease vaccination, and parasite screening tests, to ensure your pet is protected. Have your pet microchipped, and verify that the contact information associated with the microchip is correct, to increase the chances that you and your pet can be reunited should they wander off during an outdoor activity. 

#5: Practice pet water safety

Playing in the water can keep your pet cool on a hot summer day, but keep these pet water safety guidelines in mind: 

  • Keep the pool covered and fenced to prevent drowning
  • Never force or throw your pet in the water
  • Consider using a pet life jacket when boating 
  • Don’t allow your pet to drink ocean water, or eat dead fish
  • Teach your pet how to get out of the pool on their own
  • Avoid ponds or lakes containing toxic blue-green algae
  • After swimming, rinse your pet off to remove chemicals, minerals, or organic debris

If you have questions about pet-safe summer fun, or you’re ready to schedule a summer wellness visit for your furry friend, don’t hesitate to contact our Kennedy Heights Animal and Bird Hospital team.