Summer is a time for fun and relaxation but can also pose some risks to our furry friends. Learn about the many hazards, from hot grills to toxic foods, which we may expose our pets to during our summer fun. Learn these essential tips for summer celebrations and how to keep your pets safe.
Keep your pets away from hot grills and open flames.
During summer celebrations, one common hazard for pets is hot grills and open flames. Pets can quickly get burned or start a fire by knocking over a grill or getting too close to a flame. Please keep your pets away from these areas. If you use a grill, ensure it is cool before allowing your pet to approach it.
First aid steps if your pet gets burned from a grill. If the unfortunate happens and your pet gets burned from a grill, you must act immediately and follow these instructions from the American Veterinary Association:
- Flush the burn with room-temperature water. This process may be painful, so take appropriate precautions, such as applying a muzzle, to avoid being scratched, bitten, or otherwise injured.
- Cover the burned area with towels dampened with room-temperature water.
- Seek immediate veterinary care.
Keep toxic foods and drinks away from your pets.
During summer celebrations, it’s common to have a variety of foods and drinks around. However, some of these can be toxic to pets. Alcoholic beverages and caffeinated coffee or drinks can also be dangerous. Make sure to keep these items out of reach of your pets and remind guests not to feed them to your furry friends. Instead, provide pet-friendly treats and fresh water for them to enjoy. Here are typical BBQ and picnic foods that are toxic to pets:
- Chocolate is toxic because it contains a chemical called theobromine, as well as caffeine.
- Xylitol. This sugar substitute may be great for reducing sugar, but it is highly toxic and has proven fatal to all pets, even in small quantities. It can cause insulin release in most species, leading to liver failure. The increase in insulin leads to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels).
- There are safer sugar substitutes, but even these should be out of reach of pets as they can cause stomach upset:
- Monk fruit
- Uncooked meats. Raw meat poses a threat to pets just as it does to people. Harmful bacteria such as salmonella and E. Coli can cause a pet to get very sick and, in some cases cause death, especially in a senior pet or a pet with a compromised immune system or poor gut health.
- Chicken wings and meat with bones. Any meat with bones can be a choking hazard for a pet.
- Snack foods like potato chips, pretzels, corn chips, etc., contain high amounts of sodium. Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, and can cause sodium ion poisoning in pets.
Salsa. Salsa contains both onion and garlic, which are toxic to pets.
- Avocados contain persin, which is toxic to pets. If eaten in large quantities, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs and cats. It can be deadly for some pets, such as rabbits, ferrets, birds, and horses.
- BBQ Sauce. Like salsa, BBQ sauce contains onion and garlic.
- Grapes (and raisins) Grapes and raisins contain tartaric acid, which is toxic to dogs and cats.
- Corn on the Cob. Corn itself is not toxic to pets. However, corn on the cob is known for causing choking or obstructions in the intestines.
- Macadamia nuts. Macadamia nuts can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors, and hyperthermia in dogs and cats.
Provide plenty of shade and water to keep your pets cool.
During summer celebrations, you must ensure your pets have access to shade and plenty of water to stay cool. Heat stroke is a severe risk to pets during hot weather and can be fatal if not treated promptly. Make sure your pets have a cool, shaded area to rest in and provide them with fresh water throughout the day. You can also freeze water in a bowl or give them ice cubes to help keep them cool. Read more about overheating prevention tips.
Keep your pet safe around swimming pools or bodies of water.
If you own a pool or take your pet with you on a visit to a friend with a swimming pool, it is critical to supervise your pet around the pool. It is very possible for a dog, or any outdoor pet, to drown in a backyard swimming pool. Even dogs who are seasoned swimmers can drown because they instinctively go to the sides of the pool, but then they aren’t able to figure out how to get out of the pool. Sadly, around 5,000 family pets drown in a backyard swimming pool every year.
Ideally, all pools should be surrounded by a fence to protect children and animals from unsupervised access. Also, pool alarms alert you if someone enters the water or pool area. Dog life jackets or cat buoyancy aides can protect your pet around a pool or near bodies of water.
Keep your pets indoors during fireworks displays.
Fireworks displays are a standard part of summer celebrations but can be stressful and frightening for pets. The loud noises and bright lights can cause anxiety, fear, and even panic in some animals. It’s best to keep your pets indoors during fireworks displays and provide them with a safe and comfortable space to retreat. You can also try using calming products like pheromone sprays or calming collars to help reduce their anxiety.
Make sure your pets are wearing identification tags.
With all the excitement and activity of summer celebrations, it’s essential to ensure your pets wear identification tags. In case they get lost or wander off, having identification tags with your contact information can help ensure they are returned to you safely. You can also consider getting your pets microchipped, which provides a more permanent form of identification. Make sure to update your contact information with the microchip company if you move or change phone numbers.
We want you and your family, pets included, to enjoy your summer. Preparing ahead of time to protect your furry loved ones can make all the difference in their safety and yours. We would also like to remind you that if you plan a summer trip with your pet, contact us now to schedule and bring them in for a wellness check up before you go.
Hillsboro Advanced Veterinary Care