Safety: Tips to Keep Pets Healthy During Summer

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Animals—For those of you who don't know this already, I'm a huge dog lover...well, scratch that...a huge animal lover. Growing up, I always wanted to be a veterinarian. I went to all sorts of veterinary training programs when I was younger and even worked at a veterinary hospital in high school. As soon as I went to Michigan State, one of the top veterinary medicine schools in the country, it all of a sudden hit me. I was not a huge fan of math and science so how could I ever have a future in veterinary medicine?

Even though I didn't become a veterinarian and studied journalism instead, I have always found a way to surround myself with animals, especially dogs. Tugboat and Caster are my 70 pound fur babies that bring so much love and joy into my life. Keeping them happy, healthy, and safe is a top priority in our household.

For those of you who have animals, the most frustrating part can be the fact that they can't tell you why they hurt. As pet parents, it's up to us to provide them with the comfort, security, and knowledge that we're doing all that we can do to make sure they're healthy. When it comes to pets, it's extremely important to take them in for checkups, make sure they are up-to-date on shots, and provide them with the necessary medication (flea, tick, heartworm, etc.) to maintain their health and happiness.

VCA Animal Hospitals also keep your pet's health their top priority. One of VCA's veterinarians, Dr. Donna Spector, DVM, DACVIM, has provided her tips, tricks, and advice on how to keep your pets safe during the summer months.

Summer Safety Tips to Keep Pets Healthy

Warning Signs of Overheating and Dehydration

Overheating and dehydration can happen easily in the summer time. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Common early signs of an overheated dog are: noisy or labored breathing, excessive panting, and bright red mucus membranes.
  • Heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency. If you are concerned your pet is overheated, check their temperature. The normal canine body temperature is 100 to 102.5. If the temperature registers over 105 degrees, contact your veterinarian immediately.
  • Always keep a water bowl with you whenever you are out with your pet. There are some easy to use collapsible bowls available and some of these bowls can even clip on the leash.
  • You can place a cool, wet towel over your dog or place him in a bath of lukewarm to cool water. Never use ice or very cold water to try to cool a hot pet. If you have a garden hose handy, you can run cool water over them.

In addition to heat stroke, warm sunny days can pose a risk of sunburn for light-haired pets or for those with very thin hair. Remember that pavement becomes very hot on sunny days—easily able to burn and blister your pets paw pads.

Tips for Pool and Backyard Activities

  • Keep your pets leashed. Summer is a popular time for grilling and outdoor parties. Remember to keep your pets leashed or inside to prevent them from eating potentially toxic party foods (chocolate, grapes, onions, etc.)
  • Watch pets carefully around water. Like children, water poses a number of dangers to pets also.  Make sure outdoor pools are properly secured to prevent accidental drowning. If your property has ponds or lakes make sure you have fences to keep your pet and neighborhood pets out. Keep your pet out of stagnant water to lower the risk for certain infectious water-borne diseases.
  • Avoid summer toxin hazards. Nicely manicured lawns can pose certain hazards to pets such as cocoa mulch toxicity or snail bait toxicity. Avoid these things or ask your lawn service to avoid these products if you have pets.  Always be on the look-out for antifreeze—many people drain their antifreeze during the summer and its sweet smell can attract many an inquisitive pet.

VCA operates in more than 520 animal hospitals in 41 states across the nation in the VCA network. They also offer free initial health exams to all new pet patients! So, if you haven’t been before, be sure to check them out and get an update on your pet’s health. The Free Initial Health Exam form can be found here, along with other coupons and deals!

In an effort to help keep your pet safe and healthy during the warmer months, the VCA is sponsoring a giveaway on Mom It Forward! After entering the giveaway, be sure to check out VCA on Facebook and Twitter (@VCApethealth). You can also visit for more info, including an expansive pet health resource library.

The Prizes

This giveaway is all about keeping your pets safe and healthy during the summer. One lucky winner will receive a digital photo frame, $50 gift card, a VCA dog leash, portable water bowl, and food scooper (ARV: $100 value).

Entry Requirements

For a chance to enter and win, please complete the following requirements and leave a separate comment for each on this post, including links to your original tweets.

  1. Follow @VCApethealth on Twitter.
  2. Like VCA Animal Hospitals on Facebook.
  3. Tweet the following:

Optional Entries

The following are extra entries that are completely optional and will earn you one extra entry for each completed item. Leave a separate comment on this post for each completed optional entry.

Terms and Conditions

Winners will be selected randomly through No purchase necessary to enter. Giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m. ET Friday, August 19. See all terms and conditions here. This giveaway is available to U.S. residents only.

Disclaimer: This post and giveaway were sponsored by the VCA.

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