Summer pet safety: A guide for California pet owners

By: Dr. Amelia Barkley, DVM, PhD, Diplomate ACVIM
dog in a car

When the California sun starts to sizzle, we all feel it – and our pets are no exception. The summer season, with its long, sunny days and outdoor adventures, can be a blast for our pets, but it also brings a set of challenges that we, as responsible pet parents, need to address.

Imagine walking barefoot on hot pavement. Ouch, right? That’s exactly what our dogs might feel when we take them for a walk on a scorching summer day. Their paws can get burnt, and they can even suffer from heat stroke if their body temperature shoots up. So, let’s make a pact to avoid the peak heat hours for walks and to never, ever leave our pets in a parked car. And remember, if the pavement is too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for their paws.

Now, let’s talk about those pesky ticks. They love the warm weather as much as we do, and they can transmit diseases to our pets. So, after a day of playing fetch in the park or hiking the trails, let’s give our pets a good once-over to make sure they haven’t picked up any unwanted hitchhikers.

And bees? They’re out and about in the summer, too. A sting can cause our pets discomfort and, in rare cases, a severe allergic reaction. If a bee does get the better of your pet, remove the stinger, keep an eye on them, and call your vet if you’re worried.

Water is a great way to cool down in the summer, but not all pets are born swimmers. If you’re lucky enough to have a pool, make sure it’s pet-proofed. And if you’re hitting the beach, keep a watchful eye on your pet around the waves. Also, be aware of blue-green algae in bodies of water. It’s often identified by a pea-green paint-like or soupy appearance on the water’s surface and can be highly toxic to dogs if ingested.

We also need to be mindful of snakes. They’re more active in the summer, and a snakebite can be serious. If you’re out and about in snake territory, keep your pet close and on a leash.

Just like us, our pets can suffer from seasonal allergies. If you notice your pet scratching more than usual, it might be time for a trip to the vet.

And while we’re on the topic of nature, let’s be aware of potentially harmful plants. Poison ivy and poison oak might not affect our pets like they do us, but it’s better to steer clear just in case. Plus, the oil from these plants can rub off on our pet’s fur and then onto us, causing an itchy rash.

Summer barbecues are a joy, but they can be a minefield for our pets. Let’s keep them away from the grill and be vigilant about food scraps.

So, yes, summer in California can be a bit challenging for our pets. But with a little awareness and some simple precautions, we can make sure it’s a season of fun and joy for them. After all, they’re not just pets, they’re family.


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