Summer Safety for Dogs

Summer is full of fun things to do with our dogs, but there are dangers that come with warmer weather. You can prevent emergencies if you are prepared!

The 2012 summer officially begins at 7:09 p.m. this evening, and she’s coming in with sizzling temperatures in the 90s today and tomorrow! With warmer weather, there are many activities to do outdoors with our dogs, but it is our responsibility to keep them safe in the ‘dog days’ of summer. 

Probably the most dangerous thing to do with your dog in warm weather is to leave him in the car while you run into a store.  I’ve noticed many folks running errands with their dogs on warm days already, and it bears repeating over and over again that it is not safe to leave your dogs (or kids) in the car, even with the windows open and even in the shade.  The inside of a car can reach a lethal temperature in just minutes, even in moderate weather.  It is never to safe to leave your dog in a parked car, not even for a few minutes. 

Another common dangerous situation is dogs left outside during the heat of the day.  Besides the summer heat, the sun can also burn a dog’s skin, wild animals can cause harm, and people can steal your dog.  Leaving your dog unattended outside is a high-risk endeavor.  I never recommend leaving dogs outside unsupervised anyway, but in the hot summer heat this can be especially deadly.  If you do have a dog who is outside for any extended period of time during the day, please make sure that he has adequate shelter and can escape the sun, as well as access to unlimited water in a secure dispenser which will not get bumped or tipped over.

Heatstroke is a very real and common danger for dogs in the summertime.  Dogs will pant to cool off when they get overheated.  When the air becomes overheated or very humid, panting does not cool a dog efficiently.  Heatstroke is a medical emergency, symptoms include rapid panting, anxious behavior, rapid heartbeat, fever over 102, refusal to respond to cues, warm dry skin (particularly on nose), vomiting, and collapse.  If you suspect your dog is overheated or is suffering from heatstroke, you need to call your vet or an emergency veterinary facility immediately.  You will also want to attempt to bring your dog’s temperature down by placing him in a tub or pool with cool water, covering him with cool, wet towels, or in severe cases with a cool-water enema.

Ticks are already causing problems this year.  We had almost no winter weather and ticks never went away.  Ticks of ALL varieties can carry and transmit deadly diseases (not only deer ticks).  Lyme disease is most prevalent in CT, but there are also other tick-borne diseases, which can be just as lethal.  Ehrlichiosis is not uncommon and can cause similar symptoms as Lyme disease (muscle pain or weakness, fever, fatigue, etc), but can also lead to more serious problems like pancreatitis.  There are many products on the market which can protect against fleas and ticks, and some even protect against mosquitoes, which can carry another serious threat to dogdom: heartworm.  Ultimately, each dog has his or her own set of traits which will determine the best products, if any, you should use. This is something to discuss with your veterinarian.  Be sure and ask about the risk associated with the treatments as well, because they all carry some pretty hefty potential side effects too.  You need to weigh the risk of potentially deadly tick-borne or mosquito-borne illness against the risk of potentially deadly preventative treatments.  After all, these products are all forms of poison.

When traveling with your pet in the car, you want to make sure he is restrained in some way.  Crates are the safest way for pets to travel, but seat belts designed with a sturdy harness are also a good way to keep your dog relatively safe in case of an accident.  If he is not restrained, and you have to stop short, or if you are in a crash, he WILL be thrown from the car and will likely be severely injured or killed.  It is also not a good idea to let him hang his head out in the wind.  I know, I know, it’s one of the top joys of being a dog…but just run your fingers across the front of your headlights and be aware that all those little nicks and scratches happen to your dog’s eyes!  I have lived with a blind dog.  If I could’ve prevented her from losing her eyesight, I would have.  It’s one simple thing you can do. One more thing about traveling that should go without saying: It is NEVER safe to travel with your dog in the bed of a pickup truck.

Finally, certain summer plants can be toxic to dogs.  A partial list can be found here: http://www.entirelypets.com/toxicplants.html, along with the particular dangers associated with each plant.  In addition to the list of flowers, some fruit and vegetable plants can also be deadly.  The green leaves of tomato plants, garlic or onions, grapes, and mushrooms can all cause medical emergencies, as well as many garden fertilizers.  Please know what is growing or being used in your yard and prevent your dog from having access to anything that can harm him.  If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, call the ASPCA animal poison control hotline at 888-426-4435 (there is a $65 fee) or your vet or local emergency vet hospital.

Know your local 24-hour veterinary facilities phone numbers and locations:

Michelle Douglas, CPDT-KA, CDBC is the owner of The Refined Canine, LLC, providing dog training and behavior consulting services in Southern CT since 1997.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Michelle Douglas June 25, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Yooper, There is nothing rhetorical about it! This is serious business. MANY dogs die every year from heatstroke and this is entirely preventable. The American Veterinary Medical Association agrees: http://www.avma.org/animal_health/petsincars/ OTHER LINKS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ku1CLJv-HzM&feature=player_embedded http://www.stevedalepetworld.com/home/44-weekly-features/156-dogs-die-in-hot-cars http://www.dogstodaymagazine.co.uk/dontcookyourdog/ http://www.examiner.com/article/thousands-of-dogs-die-hot-cars-each-year-don-t-let-it-happen-to-yours http://voices.washingtonpost.com/crime-scene/the-district/a-tourist-from-michigan-was.html If you choose to leave your dog in a parked car in warm weather, you run the risk of having your windows smashed, being charged with animal cruelty, and killing your dog. Don't shoot the messenger!
Michelle Douglas June 25, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Thanks Dr. O'Neil! Gosh, I remember the first time I saw (and smelled) maggots on a dog when I worked for you in the nineties!
Yooper June 25, 2012 at 05:57 PM
You are so emotional about this you are apparently unable to comprehend what I wrote. ...windows open...in the shade...lethal temperatures in minutes...??? How can you expect people to heed your suggestions when you find it necessary to use such extreme exaggeration?
Yooper June 25, 2012 at 06:02 PM
By the way, if there was a dog in a car with windows open, why would you advocate smashing windows? Is that your calm, reasoned advice or hyperbolic rhetoric? Are you advocating vandalism and destruction of private property? Has the heat affected your thought process?
Michelle Douglas June 25, 2012 at 09:33 PM
I invite you to put a thermometer in your car, park it in the shade and crack the windows. Watch how long it takes to hit 100. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_l0gvmVY-AU ^^10 minutes, 2 counts animal cruelty. In regards to smashing windows, I have, on one occasion called the police upon seeing a distressed dog in a hot car, and it was the police who told me that if I did not see the owner to smash the window to get the dog out because they wouldn't be there in time. Luckily, the manager of the restaurant found the owner and got them outside before any windows were broken. I also personally know animal control officers, vet-techs and at least one veterinarian who have broken car windows to attempt to save dogs in cars (in the shade with cracked windows). In the case of the vet, he was not in time. All I'm saying is that it is best to be safe and NOT bring your dog with you if you need to leave them in the car anywhere. It's that simple. You are the one getting emotional about it and I'm failing to understand exactly why it matters to you one way or the other.
Yooper June 25, 2012 at 09:57 PM
"I invite you to put a thermometer in your car, park it in the shade and crack the windows. Watch how long it takes to hit 100." There is a huge difference between "cracking" windows and having "open" windows. 100 degrees in the shade? Please let me know the last time that happened in Connecticut. As I said in my original comment "I'm not advocating dogs in hot cars..."
Michelle Douglas June 25, 2012 at 10:48 PM
Yes, there IS absolutely a huge difference between cracked windows and open windows. It is unsafe to leave a dog in the car with OPEN windows because they can run off or be stolen.
Yooper June 25, 2012 at 11:07 PM
Michelle. I appreciate your best intentions in protecting dogs. As we go back and forth you are merely confirming my original observation that your original words were over the top. Let's leave it at that.
Jamie H. CPDT-KA June 25, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Nice Article Michelle. I don't know about CT, but here in No. Ca. A car park in shade in 85 degree weather will heat up after the 30 min you stated, even with windows cracked, complete open windows are not a good ideal even tethered dogs, can get stressed (aggressive "get away from my car" dogs get over aroused to fever pitch and cause their BP to rise and of course get heated, barking at possible intruders), friendly dogs can get stolen (and the car too, it only takes a thief seconds to get your car unlocked and started, imagine their delight to an open window invite). Banfield Vet hospital, (which is where I got my tag) inside most PetSmart store's, have tags you can hang in your car, as the tag heats up, it warns "extreme Heat" to get the dog out of car. I got mine last year and hand them out to all my Pet Parents in my classes, while supplies last, (they're nice enough to let me take several bundles :) ). Dogs have a body temp of 100 to 101 to start, trying to pant and cool off is the worse way to do so, but it's all they have, if you are not able to take your dog into the store when you run errands just leave your dog at home, indoor access if outside temp is hitting over 90( if not then with lots of access to water, get a child pool if you can and have lots of shade) it's the best thing for them.
Dawn Lowery June 26, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Dawn Lowery June 26, 2012 at 03:09 AM
Please note in the article above from last weeks heat wave that the owner left the windows OPEN and left water. Temps reaced ell over 90 degrees and both dogs were rushed to emergency clinic and did not make it.
Shirley B. Backus June 27, 2012 at 03:59 AM
Yooper take note: When somebody leaves their dog in a car, they run the risk of losing that dog, not only to the heat or cold, but also to thieves, accidents, and who knows what else could happen in your absence. If you care so little about your dog that you're willing to take those risks, then you shouldn't have a dog. Indeed, some dogs should be, and I believe have been seized by Animal Control when owners show so little regard for their safety.
Yooper June 27, 2012 at 04:46 AM
I suggest that everyone follow Michelle's suggestion - "...it is best to be safe and NOT bring your dog with you if you need to leave them in the car anywhere. It's that simple."
racergurl June 28, 2012 at 06:36 AM
Owners SHOULDN'T bring their dogs with them. You wouldn't leave a child in a car in the heat, why should a dog be any different?
Priscilla Lynn June 28, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Very informative and interesting commentaries. Thanks for sharing this blog.
Lise Cavallaro June 28, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Really? They also offer companionship, watchdogs, therapy dogs for elderly and troubled children. I feel sorry for people like you.
Linda June 28, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Animals are also God's children. I read the bible daily and attend church. I love all animals, even human animals
Shirley B. Backus June 29, 2012 at 03:47 AM
Thomas, what's your comment about dogs eating poop got to do with leaving a dog in a car? Your nonsense is not appropriate for this commentary. If you don't have anything constructive to say, don't waste our time.
Shirley B. Backus June 29, 2012 at 03:53 AM
Yooper, we're not talking about "air conditioned quarters" such as at home. We're talking about leaving a dog unnattended in a car. It's dangerous for the dog for many reasons already noted. Do you have to lose your pet before you pay attention?
Yooper June 29, 2012 at 04:44 AM
Shirley, you and the others commenting here have forced me to conclude that dog people have very limited reading comprehension. My comments have been based on Michelle's exact words and the implications of those words. If you read the entire thread you should be able to deduce that.
Charles Cornwallace June 29, 2012 at 10:02 AM
I was once left in a car outside of the Roadhouse Bar and Grill-- by people who claimed to be my friends. Granted, it was at night, but all the windows were up. I had no choice but to kick one of the windows out so that I could get back in there before closing.
OxfordCitizen June 29, 2012 at 12:27 PM
....and bible thumpers like you believe in fairy tales and post off topic comments. I believe the majority of readers here would rather spend an afternoon in a hot car than listen to you blather about your big daddy in the sky....go away please...
Christi June 29, 2012 at 01:02 PM
To those who would joke about this scenario, get a life and please, dear god, never have a pet or a child. Please. I think they call it being an internet 'troll', and that gentlemen above, 'Dom DeCicco' (who knows if that is a real name) has a whole history on his page of inappropriate postings just to illicit a reaction. Dom, and I mean this seriously, I hope things get better for you and you find more fulfilling beneficial ways to spend your time. I would never leave my dog in a hot car and anyone that does it, even for a few minutes, in very hot heat, can be killing their pet. Anyone that truly cares about their pet would not do this if they understood the danger. The importance of these types of articles is to educate and inform, and I appreciate the writer posting this. Thank you! You may save a life.
Ashleigh June 29, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Yooper, apparently you also have limited reading comprehension skills. The structure of the sentence "even... and even..." implies 2 separate occurences. To split it up to make it a bit easier for you: "It bears repeating over and over again that it is not safe to leave your dogs (or kids) in the car, even with the windows open. It is not even safe in the shade." We'll start with the "with the windows open" portion. When a person leaves a dog in their car, they slightly crack the window, maybe an inch or so. Do you mean to tell me that an inch of air is enough to properly cool off the car? When it is hot outside and you decide to cool your house down, do you only open the windows an inch? No, because it does absolutely nothing to provide any sort of coolness. Now we move to the "in the shade" piece. You have a car, which on a hot day is basically a greenhouse, in the shade, which lowers the temperature about 5 degrees. Is it really safer to keep a dog in a 105* car than a 110* car? No. If you think this "rhetoric" is nonsense, try parking your car in the blazing sun one day, putting on a fur coat, lowering your window 1/2 an inch and baking in there. Pretty positive you're not going to feel too dandy either.
Yooper June 29, 2012 at 06:17 PM
Hi Ashleigh. Welcome to the discussion. Unfortunately your cute little diatribe ignores the "and" connecting "windows open" and "shade". The "and" connects the two situations; it does not separate them. Your editing that into two separate sentences merely proves my point. As for "windows open" or "slightly cracked", you are accusing me of things I never stated. Rather than trying to comprehend what I said about the original language used in the article, you have decided that I advocate leaving dogs in hot cars and post irrelevant comparisons about opening my house windows one inch on a hot day. I do understand your frustration. Since you are unable to refute what I wrote, you have to invent things that you imagine I intended so you can criticize them
Shirley B. Backus June 30, 2012 at 04:30 AM
Yooper, your comments are confusing. You refer to those of us who state valid reasons for not leaving a dog, or any animal, in a car unattended as spouting "rhetoric", but then say that's not what you meant. You started off like you believe it's okay, then turn around and say we need to improve our comprehension skills because that's not what you said. You seem to change your mind when you find out how unpopular your opinion is. If that's not the case, then I think you should take a look at your writing skills.
Michelle Douglas July 02, 2012 at 08:18 PM
http://www.kob.com/article/stories/S2671489.shtml Woman smashes pet owner's car windows...
Priscilla Lynn July 02, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Well, well, it's clear to me by the volumes of comments that we pet owners are a passionate lot about our furry kids. I've learned a lot reading all the comments.
Ted B July 02, 2012 at 08:59 PM
This Yooper person (as well as thomas in the previous post) is looking for attention. He does it on every article he posts on.
Kathleen Ramunni (Editor) July 02, 2012 at 09:04 PM
The other day I was in a parking lot of a restaurant and there was a tiny little yorkie in a car with the windows up and the temperature was about 95. I waited about five minutes -- by that time the dog was panting like crazy -- and then took the dog out of the car and brought him into the restaurant to his/her owners. They had no idea how much their little dog was suffering out there. Afterwards I wished I had called the police because it might have scared them more, but hopefully they learned a lesson.


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