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My Dog Can’t Eat What? 9 Important Summer Safety Tips

Dog drinking from water bottle

Barbecues, boating, and hot weather are some of our favorite things about summer, but for our pets, they can be life-threatening.

This year, whether you’re hitting the beach or just the backyard, make sure you’re keeping your pet’s safety in mind. Here are 9 important summer safety reminders for every pet owner.

Don’t share your snacks.

Barbecuing is one of the biggest perks of warm weather, but remember that the food you eat may be poisonous to pets. Raisins, grapes, onions, avocados, and chocolate are common barbecue fare that are toxic to animals. Remind well-meaning guests not to sneak pets any table scraps.

Dog with raw food.

Keep alcohol out of reach.

It may seem obvious, but alcohol is extremely dangerous to dogs. Even small amounts can cause them to become dangerously intoxicated, go into a coma, or even die from respiratory failure. This includes beer.

Stay in the shade.

Pets are quick to dehydrate. If you’re spending time outside, be sure to carry plenty of fresh water and stay near a shady retreat. Keep in mind that animals with flat faces (like pugs and Persian cats) are more susceptible to heat stroke since they can’t pant as effectively.

Dogs lying down in the shade.

Secure the I.D.s.

Time spent outdoors comes with increased stimulation and stress for your pet. Increased stress means increased risk of bolting or escaping. If you haven’t already, make sure your pet is fitted with a microchip or ID tag with identifying information including your phone number.

Prevent unsupervised swimming.

Not all dogs are swimmers! Never leave your pet unsupervised around a pool or lake. Introduce them to water gradually and, if they haven’t swum before, fit them with a flotation device while on a boat.

Dog struggles to swim in pool.

Watching fireworks? Leave pets at home.

The combination of large crowds, loud noises, and bright lights can really scare your pet. While lit fireworks are an obvious burn hazard, the potentially toxic substances in unused fireworks can be hazardous as well. It’s best to keep your pet safe at home while you enjoy the show.

Keep them calm.

The Thundershirt™ is recommended by thousands of dog trainers as a drug-free way to soothe and calm anxious pets. It applies gentle, constant pressure to make them feel safe and secure, similar to swaddling an infant. It’s particularly effective during loud events such as parties or fireworks displays. Learn more.

Dog wearing Thundershirt.

Skip the bug spray.

Unless specifically designed for animals, insect repellent and sunscreen can be toxic to pets. Be aware of the signs of toxic ingestion (provided by the ASPCA): drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, and lethargy. DEET, a common insecticide, may also cause neurological problems in dogs. If you’re spraying, do it far from your dog.

Don’t use citronella.

According to the ASPCA, oils, candles, torches, and other citronella-based repellents are irritating to dogs. Inhalation can lead to respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia, and ingestion can harm your pet’s nervous system. If you run into them, be sure to keep them far from your pet.

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G. H. was raised in Minnesota, but currently calls Seattle her home. She's a blogger, editor, and journalist, and she's written everything from news reports to restaurant reviews. If she's not putting pen to paper, G. H. is probably experimenting in the kitchen, chilling out on her yoga mat, or running through a city park.