Pets and Summer sun: 5 things to watch out for

Your pet should have a fun summer, too, we say!  Here are five things to watch for:

Heat:  Heat is probably the biggest danger, since it can result in heat stroke and breathing problems. 

“In general, the bigger the dog and the flatter the face, the more susceptible he or she is to over-heating, as are dark-colored (absorb more heat from the sun) and thickly-coated dogs,” said Lynn Gensamer, executive director of Humane Society for Greater Savannah. She continued:  “Dogs do sweat, but through their paw pads and nose. A big black dog walking on asphalt on a hot summer day can have a truly difficult time of it.”

Provide plenty of fresh water and keep your pet in the shade when necessary. Don’t lock him or her in a car, not even for a few moments.  Cars heat up very fast and, according to the ASPCA, an 85-degree car can turn into 102-degrees in 10 minutes and 120-degrees in 30.

Sunburn:  Chronic sun exposure can lead to skin cancer, and don’t assume your pet is safe if it stays indoors; those dangerous UV Rays can just as easily come through a window or glass doors.

There are sunscreens specially formulated for pets. Never use human ones because they can irritate the skin and even be toxic if ingested. If in doubt, consult your vet.

If your dog does get sunburned, a cool bath or cold compress can help, as can a very small amount of Vitamin E to speed up the healing process and alleviate pain.  “We often recommend applying any salves or ointments right before feeding or walking so that at least it has some time to work before the pet pays too much attention to it and inevitably licks it off,” said Drs. Bridget Halligan, D.V.M. and Caroline Magasweran, D.V.M. of New York City’s West Chelsea Your pet should have a fun summer, too, we say! 

Toxic flowers and plants: Tulips, Lily of the Valley, Honeysuckle, Crocuses and are all gorgeous additions to the garden, but they can be highly toxic to animals. Dogs love to munch on plants anyway, but Honeysuckle is particularly appealing because of its sweet scent and sticky texture. Lilies are especially dangerous to cats; there’s even a website called: to help educate everyone on these dangers.

Get a complete list of toxic flowers and plants from your veterinarian, local ASPCA or Humane Society. If you suspect your pet has come in contact with anything, call your vet or local pet poison control center.

Lawn chemicals and pesticides. Generally, fertilizers are pretty safe, but some do contain bone meal (tasty!) and might include items that can cause intestinal blockages. Read labels thoroughly, ask questions and call your vet if you suspect a problem.

Pests: Fleas, mosquitoes and ticks can all lead to tapeworms, Lyme disease and heartworm. Some animals are also highly allergic to fleas and can have strong reactions.