The American Dog Trainers Network


Swimming Golden Retriever Mix
a rainbow-colored separation bar

While summertime is often a time to relax, play sports, enjoy picnics, trips to the beach, and backyard parties, the summer months can also offer some potential hazards to our companion animals.

1) Anti-Freeze

If ingested, anti-freeze (ethylene glycol), the day-glo green colored fluid frequently seen near curbs, is often lethal -- even in very small quantities. Because many dogs and cats like its sweet taste, there are an enormous number of animal fatalities each year from animals drinking anti-freeze. Poisoning from anti-freeze is considered a serious medical emergency which must be treated by a qualified veterinarian IMMEDIATELY. Fortunately, the Sierra company now offers a far less toxic form of anti-freeze. They can be reached at (888)88-SIERRA.

Please see:

Medical Emergencies -- Poison

Emergency Helplines

2) Heatstroke and Heat Exhaustion

Parked cars:
Leaving your dog in a parked car in the summer (even with the window left a few inches open), can cause heatstroke within minutes. Note: Leaving your dog in a car parked in the shade does not assure that your dog will not become seriously overheated. Shaded cars may still get very hot due to the the greenhouse effect, and the sun may also move enough to change shaded areas into sunny ones. Dogs left in parked cars also risk being harrassed or stolen.

Airplane Travel: To help prevent your dog or cat from overheating when traveling by airplane, avoid transporting your companion animal in the cargo section of the plane during hot weather. (Always take into consideration both the departure and arrival temperatures.) If your must transport you dog or cat in the cargo section, take a direct, early morning or late evening flight whenever possible, as layovers, delayed take-offs, and mid-day travel (when the temperature is hottest) can all pose an increased risk.

General Info: Heat exhaustion is often caused by over-exercising or running with a dog during hot weather. Both heatstroke and heat exhaustion can result in brain damage, heart failure or even death in a short period of time.  Short muzzed and thick-coated breeds and mixes are particularly vulnerable, although any breed may be at risk. Always bring cool water along when walking, running or hiking with your dog during hot weather. To cool off an overheated dog, offer him plenty of water, then wet the dog's body and paws with cool water, then fan. A dog's normal internal body temperature is between 100.5 degrees F and 02 degrees F. If the dog experiences heatstroke or heat exhaustion, he should receive veterinary attention as soon as possible.

3) Car Windows

Prevent your dog from hanging his head out of a moving car or truck window when taking him for a ride. Bugs, small pebbles and other debri can injure his eyes, and he is also at risk of jumping out of the vehicle. Also, closing automatic car windows while your dog is hanging his head out of the car window can cause him or her serious harm.

4) July 4th Fireworks

Avoid exposing your puppy or dog to fireworks noise, as fireworks can result in serious (and often longterm) phobias. Unfortunately, in many communities, firecracker noise often begins weeks before the July 4th holiday. Keep evening walks with your dog very brief, and never leave your dog outdoors in your yard or property if there is any risk of exposure to firecracker noise. When indoors, try to disguise outdoor noises with music, television, air conditioners and "white noise" machines. Otherwise, if at all possible, consider taking a short vacation with your dog to a quieter community where firework noise is minimal.

5) Identification Tags, Tattoos, and Microchips

Be sure to attach your dog's identification tags (along with his Rabies tag) to his flat buckle collar. ID tags won't do any good being left in a desk drawer at home. Special tattoo ID and microchip ID are also recommended.

Please see:

"Prevent Your Dog From Being Lost or Stolen"

"Lost and Found Pet Resources"

6) Open Windows, Fire Escapes and Rooftops

During hot weather, many people leave a few windows open in their home to help create a nice cool cross-breeze. If you have a dog or cat at home, be certain to install secure window screens (or safety bars) in any of the windows which will be left open, as many companion animals fall out of windows, and fire-escapes every year and are often seriously injured or killed. Also, if you allow your dog access to your building's rooftop, make sure the sidewalls which enclose the rooftop are high enough to prevent your dog from being able to fall or jump off, and make sure that you accompany him.

7) Pickup Trucks

Never allow your dog to ride in the back of an open pickup truck, unless he is safely secured by a padded harness to the center of the pickup "bed" with specially designed tethers. (Also, make sure to provide a thick comfortable padded surface or dog bed to prevent any injury or discomfort to your dog's joints.)

8) Protect Your Dog From Being Stolen

Companion animal theft is unfortunately a serious problem in this country. The number of companion animals that are stolen from backyards and from outside stores and supermarkets increases dramatically throughout Spring, Summer and Fall. Even the "safest" neighborhoods are not immune to this growing problem. The bottom line is: never leave your dog unsupervised if there is any risk that your dog could be harrassed, poisoned or stolen.

Please see:

"Protect Your Pet From Being Lost Or Stolen"

"Lost and Found Pet Resources"

[For more info, read "Stolen For Profit", by Judith Reitman; Pharos Books]

9) Swimming Pools

Each year, puppies, dogs and small children accidentally drown in backyard swimming pools when left unattended. To help prevent such a tragedy, always keep fenced-in pools locked securely when not being used, and keep companion animals and small children away from unenclosed and unoccupied pools.

10) Benefits of Spaying and Neutering

Regardless of the time of year, neutering your dog (or cat) will help reduce the likelihood of: your dog roaming and getting injured or lost, unwanted litters, intra-species fighting, sexual frustration and mounting, urinary marking, dominance aggression, and a variety of physical conditions including certain types of cancer.

Copyright 1995 - 1999,  Robin Kovary

Photo Credits











Robin Kovary is the American Dog Trainers Network helpline director
 and canine behavioral consultant.