top of page

The Ultimate Summer Survival Guide: Keeping Your Dog Cool, Safe, and Happy!

Updated: May 30

Summer is the perfect time for outdoor fun and bonding with our furry friends. However, while we enjoy the sun and warm weather, it’s crucial to remember that our dogs need special care to stay safe and healthy. This comprehensive guide covers essential tips on preventing heat stroke, water intoxication, dealing with high temperatures, the dangers of leaving dogs in cars, and protecting them from various toxins. We’ll also discuss safety during picnics and barbecues, how to recognize and avoid green algae in water bodies, and the importance of packing a canine first aid kit. This is one to bookmark for easy access when you need it 😎

Preventing Heat Stroke

infographic listing what is heat stroke, how can we prevent it, which breeds are more at risk
Tips on how to prevent Heat Stroke created by Texas SPCA

Understanding Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is a severe condition caused by a significant rise in body temperature. Dogs can overheat quickly because they primarily cool themselves through panting, which is less effective in hot, humid weather. Symptoms of heat stroke include excessive panting, drooling, reddened gums, lethargy, vomiting, and collapse.

Prevention Tips

  1. Hydration: Always provide fresh water and ensure your dog stays hydrated.

  2. Shade: Keep your dog in shaded areas during outdoor activities.

  3. Cooling Mats and Fans: Use cooling mats and fans to help your dog stay cool.

  4. Limit Exercise: Avoid strenuous activities during peak heat hours. Opt for early morning or late evening walks.

Oh, wait there’s more: Hugo and Izzy love their pupsicles and it is a summer stable in our home and during social hour and training sessions. What are pupsicles you ask… check this out:

Knowing When It’s Too Hot to Walk and Play

Showing which outside temperatures lead to which asphalt temperatures and the effect on dog paws
Too Hot To Trot!

Assessing Temperature Safety

Walking or playing with your dog on hot days can be dangerous. Surfaces like asphalt can burn their paws, and high temperatures can lead to overheating.

Pavement Safety

Hot pavement can reach extreme temperatures that are harmful to your dog's paws. On a sunny day, asphalt temperatures can exceed 60°C (140°F), which is hot enough to cause burns within a minute. This is especially true during the peak hours of sunlight, typically between 10 AM and 4 PM.

Prevention Tips

  • Pavement Check: Place your hand on the pavement for five seconds. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your dog.

  • Time Your Walks: Walk your dog early in the morning or late in the evening when it’s cooler.

  • Protective Gear: Use dog booties to protect their paws from hot surfaces. If booties are not an option, consider applying paw wax which can provide a protective barrier.

Recognizing Burned Paws

  • Limping or refusing to walk

  • Licking or chewing at the feet

  • Redness or darkening of the pads

  • Blisters or missing parts of the pads

If you notice any of these signs, bring your dog inside immediately and flush their paws with cool water. Avoid letting them lick the injured area and consult your veterinarian for further treatment.

Never Leave Dogs in Cars: The Dangers of Hot Cars

showing a outside and in the car temperature scale next to each other
How long it takes for a car to get HOT!

Leaving a dog in a parked car, even for a short time, can be extremely dangerous. The temperature inside a vehicle can rise rapidly, far exceeding the outside temperature. For instance, on a mild 25°C (77°F) day, the temperature inside a car can soar above 50°C (122°F) within minutes. This can cause fatal heat stroke.

Prevention Tips

Never Leave Your Dog: Do not leave your dog in the car, even for a few minutes, as the risk is too great.

Plan Ahead: If you need to run errands, leave your dog at home where it’s safe and cool. Alternatively, bring a friend or family member who can stay with your dog in a running, air-conditioned car if necessary.


Understanding and Preventing Water Intoxication

What is Water Intoxication?

Water intoxication, also known as water poisoning or hyperhydration, occurs when dogs ingest excessive amounts of water. This condition can lead to a dangerous imbalance of electrolytes in the body, particularly sodium, causing hyponatremia. This imbalance forces water into cells, leading to swelling. While organs like the liver can manage this swelling, the brain, encased in bone, cannot, leading to severe complications.

Causes of Water Intoxication

Safety tips dog and water created by Trupanion

Water intoxication in dogs typically occurs during activities involving water, such as swimming, diving, or retrieving in water. Even playful biting at a garden hose or sprinkler can cause excessive water intake. Smaller dogs and toy breeds are at higher risk due to their lower body volume, making it harder for their systems to handle the overload of water.

Symptoms of Water Intoxication

  • Lethargy

  • Bloating

  • Vomiting

  • Loss of coordination (stumbling, falling, staggering)

  • Restlessness

  • Drooling

  • Pale gums

  • Dilated pupils

  • Glazed eyes

  • As the condition worsens, increased pressure in the brain can lead to difficulty breathing, seizures, or coma.

Treatment of Water Intoxication

If you suspect water intoxication, seek veterinary care immediately. Treatment typically involves the administration of electrolytes to restore sodium levels. Diuretics may be used to help the body expel excess water, and medications like Mannitol can reduce brain swelling. Early intervention is crucial, as severe cases can lead to irreversible brain damage or death.

Prevention Tips

  • Monitor Water Intake: Supervise your dog’s water activities and limit their time in water.

  • Frequent Breaks: Ensure your dog takes regular breaks during water play to prevent excessive water ingestion.

  • Dry Areas: Provide dry areas for your dog to rest between swims.

  • Choose Appropriate Toys: Use flatter toys like flying discs instead of round balls to minimise the risk of water intake.

  • Avoid High-Pressure Streams: Prevent your dog from biting at high-pressure streams from hoses or sprinklers.

Protecting Against Toxins

Pesticides and Chemicals

Pesticides and insecticides used on lawns and gardens can be toxic to dogs. Symptoms of poisoning include drooling, vomiting, tremors, and seizures.

Prevention Tips

Avoid Treated Areas: Keep your dog away from areas recently treated with chemicals.

Read Labels: Use pet-safe products and follow the instructions carefully.


Salt Water

Drinking salt water from the ocean can lead to salt poisoning. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures.

Prevention Tips

Fresh Water Supply: Always provide fresh water for your dog at the beach.

Supervise: Prevent your dog from drinking salt water.



Understanding Green Algae in Water Bodies

Green algae, specifically blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), can be found in stagnant water bodies like lakes and ponds. These algae produce toxins that are harmful to dogs if ingested. The toxins can cause severe liver damage, neurological problems, and even death.

Symptoms of Algae Poisoning

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Seizures

  • Disorientation

  • Weakness

  • Difficulty breathing

Prevention Tips

Avoid Stagnant Water: Keep your dog away from stagnant water bodies that may contain algae.

Check Water Quality: Look for signs of algae blooms, such as green scum, on the surface of the water, and avoid these areas.

Rinse After Swimming: Rinse your dog with fresh water to remove algae residue from their fur and skin.

Safety During Picnics and Barbecues

Food Hazards

Certain human foods are toxic to dogs, including chocolate, grapes, onions, and alcohol. Additionally, fatty foods can cause pancreatitis.

Prevention Tips

Supervise: Keep an eye on your dog during picnics and barbecues.

Safe Treats: Provide safe, dog-friendly treats to prevent them from scavenging.

Fireworks and Festivities

Fireworks and loud noises can scare dogs, leading to panic and potentially dangerous situations.

Prevention Tips

Secure Environment: Keep your dog indoors in a secure, quiet area during fireworks.

Identification: Ensure your dog’s ID tags and microchip information are up to date in case they escape.


Packing a Canine First Aid Kit

A first aid kit for your dog is essential, especially during summer when outdoor activities increase the risk of injuries and health issues.

Here’s what your Car Canine First Aid Kit should include:

3% Hydrogen Peroxide: In case induced vomiting is needed.

Antihistamine: For allergic reactions (consult your vet for the correct dosage).

Antiseptic Wipes/Solution: Prevent infections.

Burn Gel: Soothe minor burns or scalds.

Cold Pack: Reduce swelling and cool overheated dogs.

Disposable Gloves: Protect yourself and practice hygiene.

Emergency Contact Numbers: Include your vet’s contact information and the nearest emergency clinic.

Eye Wash Saline: Rinse your dog's eyes if there's irritation.

Gauze and Bandages: For dressing wounds and controlling bleeding.

Hydrogen Peroxide: For cleaning wounds.

Instant Hot Pack: Provide warmth for joint or muscle injuries.

Manuka Honey: Aid healing for minor cuts.

Muzzle: To prevent your dog from biting if they are in pain.

Nylon Leash and Collar/Harness: A backup leash for emergencies or runaway dogs.

Saline Solution: For rinsing eyes or wounds.

Scissors: Trim fur and bandages.

Self-Adhering Bandage Wrap: Support sprains or splints.

Sterile Gauze Pads & Adhesive Tape: Dress wounds.

Sterile Saline Solution: For wounds and eyes.

Styptic Powder: Stop minor bleeding.

Thermometer: To check for fever or monitor body temperature.

Tweezers and Tick Tweezers: Remove ticks, splinters, and foreign objects.

White Vinegar or Lemon Juice: To neutralize stings and soothe skin irritations.


Hiking/Walking Dog First Aid Kit:

All car kit items

Splints: Fracture or sprain support.

Paw protection booties: Shield paws from harm.

Water purification tablets: Drink safely when in need.

Pet-friendly insect repellent: Keep bugs away.

Portable water bowl: Stay hydrated on hikes.

Reflective vest/LED collar: Be visible in low light.


Don't forget to regularly check your kits, replace expired items, and keep them easily accessible. Safety first! Check your local pet store or the BC SPCA store for pre-packed Dog First Aid kits. Thinking about your furry friend's safety and feeling overwhelmed with the extensive list of things to pack? Why not consider taking a dog first aid course? It's a wonderful opportunity to learn life-saving techniques and gain the knowledge to handle emergencies with confidence.

Summary: 10 Key Takeaways

1. Hydration: Always provide fresh water to keep your dog hydrated.

2. Shade and Cooling: Ensure your dog has access to shaded areas and cooling aids like mats and fans.

3. Limit Exercise: Avoid strenuous activities during the hottest parts of the day.

4. Monitor Water Play: Prevent water intoxication by supervising and limiting water play.

5. Paw Protection: Check pavement temperatures and use booties to protect your dog’s paws.

6. No Hot Cars: Never leave your dog in a parked car.

7. Chemical Safety: Keep your dog away from areas treated with pesticides and use pet-safe products.

8. Fresh Water at Beaches: Prevent salt water ingestion by providing fresh water.

9. Avoid Algae: Steer clear of water bodies with potential blue-green algae.

10. Safe Celebrations: Supervise your dog during picnics and barbecues, and keep them secure during fireworks.

By adhering to these guidelines, you can guarantee a fun, safe, and enjoyable summer for both you and your cherished canine companion. A bit of preparation and vigilance can significantly protect your furry friend from the potential hazards of summer. Enjoy the Dog Days of Summer, and don’t forget to bookmark this blog and save the numbers and addresses of Emergency Veterinary Hospitals and the Pet Poison Helpline in your phone!



bottom of page