Tips & Tricks

Keep Your Pets Safe This Summer: Avoid These 10 Dangers

black dog having fun beach

Summer means fun in the sun for kids and adults alike. But for our four-legged family members, the warmer months can pose some serious risks. From scorching temps to pests and poisonous plants, there’s a whole list of potential summer dangers for pets.

As a pet parent myself (I have two rambunctious golden retrievers), keeping my pups safe is a top priority. That’s why I’ve put together this comprehensive guide on the 10 biggest summertime threats for dogs and cats – and how you can protect your furry friends. Let’s dive in!

1. Heat Exhaustion and Heatstroke

There’s no bigger summer threat for pets than soaring temperatures and humidity. Dogs, in particular, struggle to cool themselves efficiently through panting when it’s hot and sticky out. This puts them at high risk for potentially fatal heat exhaustion and heatstroke if overexerted.

Heatstroke is a true medical emergency requiring immediate veterinary attention. Symptoms include rapid panting, a bright red tongue, vomiting, diarrhea, wobbliness, and collapse. Don’t wait for severe signs – get your pet out of the heat and into the air conditioning right away if you suspect overheating.

medium shot smiley woman dog couch

To prevent heat-related emergencies:

  • Never, ever leave pets in a parked car, even with windows cracked. Temperatures can soar within minutes.
  • Provide unlimited access to fresh, cold water when outdoors. Add ice if needed.
  • Offer cool, shaded areas for rest breaks like a dog house, tree shade or tarp.
  • Limit exercise, walks, and outdoor time during peak heat hours.
  • Consider cooling gear like dog cooling vests and mats.
  • Leave high-risk pets like short-nosed breeds and seniors inside on extremely hot days.
old german shepherd laying tree garden sunny day

In hot summer weather, when outdoor activities need to be limited during the day, dog puzzle toys and lick mats are excellent ways to provide mental stimulation while keeping your pup cool indoors.

Interactive puzzle toys allow dogs to work for treats using their paws and problem-solving skills. From basic kibble dispensers to more advanced puzzles, these interactive feeders provide enrichment and help relieve boredom as an alternative to vigorous exercise.

Lick mats are another fantastic option – simply spread peanut butter, yogurt, or other dog-safe purees in the grooves and let your pup happily lick away for extended mental engagement and hydration.

✅ Need a high-quality lick mat? Shop Loobani Soothing Feeding Mat Here

These two awesome enrichment toys are perfect for keeping your pup mentally stimulated on those hot days when they need to stay cool inside.

2. Summer Insects

Mosquitoes may just be an annoying nuisance for humans, but for dogs and cats, a single mosquito bite can transmit deadly heartworm disease if the insect is infected. Heartworm is exactly what it sounds like – worms that travel through the body and clog the heart, potentially causing death if left untreated.

To protect against heartworm as well as fleas and ticks (which also thrive in warm weather), use a high-quality vet-recommended prevention medication year-round. Ask your veterinarian for the right dosage based on your pet’s weight.

close up cute dog vet check up

It’s also crucial to check your pet’s fur regularly, especially after outdoor time, and brush them vigorously to remove any pests you find. Keep your yard well-trimmed since tall grasses and overgrown landscaping create prime mosquito and tick habitats.

Swarming stinging insects like bees, wasps, and hornets are another dangerous warm-weather pest that must be avoided, especially if your pet is allergic.

view cute dog enjoying time nature park

3. Poisonous Lawn and Garden Products

Keeping our yards lush and green often means using fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. But these very same products that beautify our gardens and landscapes can actually prove extremely poisonous if ingested by our curious pets.

If you suspect your dog or cat has consumed or inhaled any garden chemicals, seek veterinary care immediately. Every year, thousands of pets become seriously ill from ingesting amounts of insecticides, weed killers and fertilizers.

As a precaution, always keep pets away from any treated outdoor areas until products have fully dried and granular applications are soaked in water. Remove your pet from the area during treatments as well.

shih tzu dogs pets animals

4. The Dangers of Toxic Plants

You’ve likely heard that lilies are incredibly toxic to cats, causing kidney failure if ingested. But did you know there are actually hundreds of common landscaping and garden plants that can be toxic to dogs and cats? Some of the biggest offenders include azaleas, rhododendrons, tulips, daffodils, sago palms, foxglove, and even tomato plants.

Eating these plants can cause symptoms like vomiting, diarrhoea, abnormal heart rates, seizures, and, in severe cases, liver failure. Before adding new plants to your garden, make sure to check their safety for pets using trusted sources.

young walking dog outside walk

The ASPCA1 maintains a comprehensive database of over 1000 plants that are non-toxic, toxic, or major toxins that you can reference. There are also apps like Picture This that will identify plants and let you know if they’re unsafe for furry friends. If your pet starts vomiting, having diarrhea, or Acting lethargic after spending outdoor time, toxic plant ingestion could be the cause.

I had to rush Charlie to the vet last summer when I caught him munching on some pretty rhododendron leaves. Thankfully we caught it very early, but it was still an expensive visit and he was pretty miserable for a couple days. Better to be safe than sorry when it comes to plants!

dog enrichment matters

5. Seasonal Allergies in Pets

When spring and summer roll around, humans aren’t the only ones suffering from pollen, mold, and environmental allergies. Our pets can experience allergy symptoms, too, though their issues tend to manifest through the skin versus nasal and respiratory symptoms.

If your dog or cat is allergic to common allergens like plant pollens, dust, or mold spores, you may notice them frequently licking, scratching, or biting at their paws, legs, face and ears. Their skin may become red, inflamed, scabby, or greasy, and their eyes may water or swell.

Talk to your vet about properly managing your pet’s seasonal allergies. Options include oral antihistamines, steroids, immunotherapy allergy shots, medicated shampoos, or more frequent bathing. Keeping indoor spaces clean and well-ventilated with HEPA air purifiers can help, too.

dog vet consultation

6. Backyard BBQ and Picnic Hazards

There’s nothing better than firing up the grill, cracking open a cold drink, and enjoying an outdoor meal on a gorgeous summer evening. Unfortunately, many of these warm-weather gatherings filled with human food faves are also filled with dangers for our pets.

We all know dogs are masters at begging, and their puppy dog eyes make saying no incredibly difficult. But fatty foods like hot dogs, hamburgers, ribs, and chicken can wreak havoc on our pups’ digestive systems and potentially cause pancreatitis if overfed. Corn cobs, skewers, and cooked bones are also major choking and obstruction hazards.

gray haired man grilling hot dogs

And it’s not just savoury items putting pets at risk – seemingly harmless foods like grapes, raisins, onions, and too much salt or sugar can actually be toxic for dogs and cats. Moldy or spoiled items are another no-no, along with alcohol (seems obvious, but you’d be surprised) and chocolate, which can be fatal.

To keep your pets out of harm’s way at summer cookouts and picnics:

  • Don’t feed them scraps, grease, or other leftovers
  • Cover and secure all coolers, plates, utensils, etc. out of reach
  • Pour bowled snacks into containers with lids rather than leaving bags open
  • Pick up any stray bones, skewers, or toothpicks immediately
  • Ask guests firmly not to slip dogs or cats any forbidden human foods
  • Consider restricting pets to their own separate area during events
black and white long coated small sized dog

For an in-depth look at specific human foods dogs can and cannot eat safely, be sure to check out our extensive collection of articles on the topic. From fruits and veggies to meats and snacks, we cover all the need-to-know information on which people foods are off-limits and which make good dog treats.

Can Dogs Eat Cabbage? 

Can Dogs Eat Zucchini?

Can Dogs Eat Lima Beans?

7. Beach Day Safety Concerns

Spending a summer day on the beach is the ultimate warm-weather treat for pet owners and their water-loving dogs. However, the beach also introduces its own set of potential hazards that must be carefully monitored.

Ingesting large amounts of salt water can cause electrolyte imbalances and vomiting if your pup gets carried away bobbing for tennis balls in the waves. Provide fresh drinking water at all times so they don’t resort to drinking ocean water.

belgian malinois ball toy

The beach is also full of smaller choking and intestinal hazards, such as shells, rocks, sticks, litter, and discarded food. Keep a very close eye out for your dog trying to mouth these items. Brush off any sand from your dog’s toys and rinse in fresh water before each game of fetch, too—too much sand ingestion can lead to impaction.

If your dog will be swimming, consider outfitting them in a doggy life vest, especially if they’re not an extremely strong, confident swimmer. Many dogs can become quickly overwhelmed by currents, waves, and exhaustion, leaving them in danger of drowning. I always leash up Buddy near the water since he gets overly excited and swims way out past his limits.

smiley dog sitting by water

8. Pool Dangers and Drowning Risks

Having a backyard pool is the ultimate summer luxury for humans, but it can quickly turn tragic for pets if precautions aren’t taken. Thousands of dogs and cats drown in pools each year, often after stumbling in accidentally with no way to exit.

The golden rules for preventing this horrible fate:

  • Never leave dogs or cats unattended near a pool or spa
  • Install secure fencing or locks to block off pets’ access
  • Cover or securely close any water features when not in use
  • Consider installing a pool safety ramp or steps to allow exits
  • Train your dog to swim and purchase a fitted life vest
  • Never force a dog who is afraid into the water10
brown pitbull dog running water

9. Snake

Snakes generally emerge from brumation during the warmer months, and some species can be highly venomous if provoked or startled. To avoid accidental run-ins, keep your dog leashed and under control on hiking trails.

Use a long walking stick to clear your path of any debris or foliage that could be concealing a snake. If you do encounter one, keep your cool and back away slowly while firmly holding the leash. Do not attempt to move the snake yourself.

Rattlesnakes, copperheads, and cottonmouths are some of the more common pit vipers that could be encountered regionally. Their bites can be fatal to pets, so get your dog or cat immediately to a veterinarian if a snake bite occurs.

cute dog sitting grass outside

10. The Blazing Summer Sun

You’re diligent about applying sunscreen before extended outdoor time – but are you protecting your pet from harmful UV exposure, too? Furry friends can absolutely get sunburned, with hairless and light-coated breeds being most at risk.

Painful sunburns raise pets’ risk of developing skin cancers later in life. Protect your pet by applying pet-safe sunscreen liberally to their ears, noses, bellies, and any other exposed areas before outdoor activities. Choose a waterproof variety if swimming will be involved.

happy dog with sunglasses floating ring

And don’t forget, the sun’s heat alone can prove dangerous. Always provide access to cool, shaded areas where your pet can catch a break from direct sunlight. A doghouse, tree shade, or temporary tarp setup works perfectly. You’ll also want to make sure they have a never-empty supply of fresh cold water to stay hydrated.

Final Words

While summer poses its unique set of challenges and dangers for our pets, a little preparation and diligence goes a long way in keeping our furry friends safe through the warmest months.


About Zelda D.Nelson

As a lifelong dog lover and proud mom to two energetic rescue pups, I know firsthand how important puzzle toys are for providing dogs with much-needed mental and physical stimulation. After over a decade of experience raising well-adjusted, happy dogs, I joined the Loobani Pet team to help other pet parents discover the joy and benefits of dog puzzles. Through my work at Loobani Pet, I've become an expert on the ins and outs of various interactive dog toys. My goal is to simplify the selection process so you can easily pinpoint the perfect puzzles to match your pup's needs and lifestyle. Whether you need a toy to challenge your brainy breed, keep your power chewer occupied, or simply provide some rainy day fun, I've got you covered.