We are already starting to see patients with the presenting complaints that we see every time the temperatures outside heat up, and want to warn you of the main summer dangers.

THE BEACH.  Who doesn’t love a trip to the beach, playing in the waves, soaking up the rays?  And while some dogs do not enjoy it, many dogs love the beach, and when they love to run and swim, play games of fetch and chase those glorious waves, it can all lead to a thirsty dog who consumes salt water. In most cases, a few mouthfuls of salt water may only cause diarrhea, vomiting and mild dehydration. Consuming large amounts of salt water, however, can lead to seizures, loss of brain cells, injury to kidneys and severe dehydration.  It can be fatal. Sadly, dogs with toxic levels of sodium in their systems have a mortality rate higher than 50 percent, regardless of treatment.

Limit the time your dog spends in the salt water and always provide fresh drinking water.  

HEAT. Never leave animals in vehicles (even vehicles that are running with the AC on) or anywhere that they will not have adequate ventilation, shade and water.  While cats can suffer heat exhaustion and stroke, we most often see it in dogs.  Our often high humidity makes the heat even more dangerous. Heat stroke is a medical emergency. 

Provide cool water when outside, keep walks shorter and either very early or very late in the day, and look out for signs that your dog is getting too hot, like:

  • excessive panting
  • bright red tongue, gums
  • slowing down or stopping
  • drooling/salivating
  • signs of general discomfort
  • rapid heart rate
  • wide, stressed eyes
  • anxiety
  • seeking shade and water sources like puddles

If they appear too hot, do not put very cold water or ice on them.  Give them cold water to drink and keep their core cool with wet towels or water from the hose.

WALKING SURFACE BURNS. Any hard surface in direct sunlight can be scalding as the temperatures rise.  These surfaces are always exceedingly hotter than the air temperature. It only takes one minute on pavement that is 125 degrees F for a dog’s paws to burn. 

DROWNING. Sadly, we see these cases far too often.  Always supervise your dog(s) when they are outside if you have a pool.  If you go to the beach, river or lake, keep them close to you and leashed. 

As always, we are here for you and your pets, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  And we want nothing more than for you and your pets to be safe and happy this summer!

Shana D Richardson, PhD, Vergi 24/7