Summertime Safety: Avoiding Summer Pet Health Emergencies

The summer can be a fun season for families. But for dogs and cats, it can also be a perilous time. Rising temperatures, cookouts, and fireworks can pose health threats to dogs and cats if pet parents aren’t careful.


Here are some of the most common pet health emergencies the team at Guardian Veterinary Emergency handles in the summer, as well as ways to keep your furry family members safe:


Trauma: In the summer, more than any other time, pets escape their homes and yards and can get hurt. Dogs and cats can slip through doors and gates during parties or barbecues, become frantic with fear of fireworks, and even jump from open windows. Especially cats. Once out of the house, they can be hit by vehicles, get into fights with other animals, or sustain other injuries like lacerations. They can also become lost – according to, shelters across the country take in 30% to 60% more animals than usual between July 4-6 alone! So keep your pet safely indoors during all celebrations, and secure windows so pets can’t fall or jump out.


Burns: Our pets’ skin and paws are just as sensitive as ours is, so take precautions to avoid burns. Avoid walking your dog on pavement and sand during the middle of the day so their paw pads don’t get scalded. (Quick test: If you can’t hold your hand on the pavement for more than 5 seconds, then it’s also too hot for their pads!) Lighter-colored pets can also experience a sunburn, particularly on their faces, so apply pet-friendly sunblock if you plan to be outside for more than a few minutes.


Heat Stroke: Pets can overheat more quickly than you might imagine, and it doesn’t take 100-degree heat for them to be in danger. Remember, they’re already wearing a fur coat! Exercise only during the coolest hours in the morning or evening, and otherwise, keep pets indoors or under shade. Offer plenty of clean drinking water. Pets with heavier or longer coats, overweight, and older pets, and those with short snouts (Pekingese, French Bulldogs, Pugs, Persian cats, etc.) can overheat faster than other breeds, so be especially cautious with them. Signs of heatstroke include excessive panting, bright red gums and tongue, lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea.


Foreign body ingestion: Pets eat the darndest things, much of which cannot easily pass through their stomach and intestines. We’ve seen dogs eat skewers, chicken bones, corn cobs, and tennis balls, while cats can end up swallowing things like ribbon and string. All of these can cause gastrointestinal upset or injury to internal organs, so X-ray and surgical removal are often necessary. Common signs that your pet’s eaten something they shouldn’t include vomiting, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and lethargy.


Poisoning: Pets who counter-surf – or are allowed to lick plates clean – can eat something toxic. Raw onions are especially toxic to dogs, so keep burger fixings away from nosy pets, as well as other common pet poisons like alcohol, raisins, and grapes. Fireworks are also poisonous to pets, so if you or your neighbors are having fun with sparklers or smaller backyard displays, make sure to store them out of reach and clean up completely so pets don’t come into contact with harmful chemicals. If you notice vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, lethargy, or collapse, call your primary care veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center 24-hour poison hotline at 888-426-4435. 


If you think your pet may be having a medical emergency, give us a call at (845) 692-0260. 

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