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Summer Safety

School is out, the sun is shining, and hiking season is well underway! Summer is a great time of year for us humans, and for our pets, to get outside and enjoy what nature has to offer. However, it’s still important to exercise safety precautions for your dogs and cats to protect their overall health and happiness. Take preventative measures against fleas and ticks, avoid hot pavement and cars, keep your pets hydrated, and prepare for storms and summer celebrations. Contact your local veterinarian for questions specific to your pet, or visit our blog and educational articles for more information.

Fleas and Ticks

Fleas and ticks are small parasites that can cause discomfort and even severe reactions for you and your pets, especially if they infest the home. They are found worldwide and in a variety of climates, but prefer warm, humid, and shady areas. This makes these pests a more serious problem the more rain an area receives. Many fleas and ticks spread contagious diseases, and treatment is needed as soon as possible for a good prognosis. Luckily, you can prevent flea and tick infestations on your pet with a variety of products and preventative measures.

Fleas are small insects that are parasitic. In addition to cats and dogs, they can infest other animals like foxes, skunks, raccoons, birds, rodents and humans. They have great jumping abilities and can easily jump onto you or your pet as you walk by. The most common flea of North America can transmit murine typhus, flea-borne spotted fever, cat-scratch disease (bartonellosis), and flea tapeworms. Other flea species can transmit many more diseases that infect both pets and people.

Ticks are a type of arachnid and are also parasitic. Ticks can be carried by a variety of wild animal hosts such as deer, horses, and rodents. Ticks cannot jump like fleas, but will grab you or your pet as you walk by via a behavior called questing. Each tick species is known to transmit specific infectious diseases, including but not limited to Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and hepatozoonosis.

It can be difficult to spot fleas or ticks on your furry friend. They are quite small and can be anywhere on the body. Keep in mind that fleas prefer the head and neck area on cats, and the tail and hind area on dogs. Ticks prefer dark and hidden areas like the ears, armpits, groin, tail, and between the toes. If your pet has fleas or ticks, talk to your veterinarian about the best products to help treat the infestation.

Hot Cars and Hot Pavement

Don’t ever leave your pet in your car. It is unsafe for anyone when the outside temperature is more than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. In 8 minutes, the temperature inside a car can reach 120 degrees in the middle of summer. Football player Tryann Mathieu of the Kansas City Chiefs tried sitting in a hot car to show what it feels like for dogs, and he became extremely dizzy and had to escape the car after just six minutes. And that’s while he was sweating profusely to try and cool off, something our furry friends just can’t do.

If you see a dog alone in a car during summer, write down details of the car they are in and ask for help finding their owner in nearby buildings. Call humane authorities, and don’t hesitate to call the police if the pup looks to be in distress. Do not leave the scene until the dog is safe.

Like our hands and feet, dogs and cats are also very sensitive to temperature on their paws. But because they don’t wear shoes out of the house, pet owners need to pay extra attention to the temperature of any surface your pet walks on. Pavements are much hotter than the air temperature around them: a breezy 77 degrees Fahrenheit means the asphalt is 125 degrees, which can cause major skin damage in just 60 seconds. To avoid overly hot pavements, walk your dog only in the early morning and evening, and try to stick to cooler areas like grass. If you are ever unsure whether a surface is too hot for your dog, place the back of your hand there for seven seconds. If this is uncomfortable for you, it is not safe for your pet to walk on.


Dogs and cats overheat much more easily than people. Pets can sweat a little through their paw pads and exposed skin on their nose, but fur can make them very hot. As a result, it is extra important that your furry friend is hydrated during the summer. Bring a water bottle and bowl with you when your pet leaves the house for convenient hydration. You can also try making “pupsicles” with cantaloupe, blueberries, apples, chicken stock or sodium free broth, watermelon, or peanut butter! But you should avoid letting your pet drink from rivers, streams, lakes, or other bodies of water, as they often carry infectious diseases. In dry states like Colorado, it is very common for any living creature to be dehydrated. Dehydration affects the entire body, and in severe cases, can lead to kidney disease. It is much more difficult to be too hydrated than not hydrated enough. Ask your veterinarian how their hydration habits compare with what they need in relation to their overall health. When in doubt, hydrate.

Storm Preparation

Summer in Colorado often brings a wide variety of storms and natural events. From thunderstorms and floods to fires and droughts, take the opportunity to prepare for the unexpected by staying informed and creating a plan in case disaster strikes. Such events often happen out of nowhere and have an impact on not only our lives, and those of our pets. 

Make sure to include your pets in your emergency plans, make an emergency kit for your pet, update microchip and emergency information, and stay informed for whatever may occur. In general, move to a safe area and try to stay calm in order to minimize your pet’s stress. Bring food, treats, water, and blankets to keep them comfortable, and stay ready to evacuate with your pets if needed. Learn more about animal preparedness and coping with noise phobias in our educational articles.

Summer Celebrations

The Fourth of July offers enjoyable patriotic celebrations. But avoid bringing your dog to the fireworks celebration. Dogs have much more sensitive hearing than us humans, and can hear double the range of noise we can. Hearing loud noises can cause severe anxiety in any dog. Instead of bringing them to the celebration, put your furry friend in a confined area, like their crate or a small room with their bed. Give them healthy treats and try turning on calming music or a light vest, jacket, or shirt that provides calming pressure to their body.

It’s also important to avoid giving your pet any table scraps at holiday celebrations. Hot dogs and hamburgers are high in fat and will cause indigestion, diarrhea, and even pancreatitis in your furry friend. Pets can easily swallow an entire corn cob rather than just the digestible kernels. The corn cob can cause digestion issues and obstruct the gastrointestinal tract, causing vomiting, straining to defecate, and abdominal pain. If you notice these symptoms, take your pet to an emergency veterinarian as soon as possible. Other foods to avoid include chocolate, grapes and raisins, garlic, onions, avocado snd peach pits, hot grease, bones, and more. Do research on any food before offering it to your pet, or better yet, have them stick to the food that is just for them.

Keep glow sticks away from pets as well. Some glow sticks contain DBP, a bitter substance that is toxic to pets. If a furry friend chews a glow stick and swallows the glass fragments or DBP, they may experience GI injuries that result in bloody stool, vomiting, or worse.

If you are unsure whether they swallowed a harmful substance, consider bringing your furry friend to an emergency veterinarian to keep them safe and healthy. To learn more about keeping your pet safe during summer celebrations, click here.

Summertime is full of activities and chances to be outdoors, active. The more we plan for the safety and wellbeing of our fur babies, the more carefree and fun all of these can be.