Summer Safety Checklist for Every Dog Type

May 17, 2016

The sun is shining, farmer’s markets are open and school is coming to a close. Summer is here and while everyone has their own favorite summertime activities, we all share one thing in common – we want to share the summer fun with our pooches! Unfortunately the warmer weather and increased activity also leads to an increase number of emergencies and illnesses we see at the clinic. Here are some general safety checklists for however you and your fur-kiddo plan to spend your summer!


The Relaxer – this dog is taking it easy this summer. Whether relaxing in the summer sun or cooling off indoors, he’s happy to just chill

  • Cut back on calories: If your dog tends to exercise less when the temperature climbs, consider cutting back on his food intake accordingly to avoid unhealthy weight gain

  • Flea, tick and biting inspect protection - Because they are attracted to body heat, and your dog’s body temperature is on average 2 to 3 degrees higher than yours, they are going to be even more affected by these annoying, disease transmitting pests. We all know these pests live in our backyards and can even find their way indoor. For this reason, all dogs should be on a good preventative!

  • Keep him cool! When outside, access to fresh water, shade, and opportunities to go inside if too warm are all important for Fido. Watch for signs of heatstroke, a life-threatening condition. Difficulty breathing, glazed appearance to eyes, deep red or purple tongue, and excessive salivation can all be symptoms. If you are concerned your pet is overheating, bring them indoors immediately and contact your veterinarian for advice.

  • Lawn care/spray safety: Always ask your lawn care provider about what precautions you need to take when having your lawn sprayed/treated


The Outdoorsy Type – this dog is active and on the go with you. Whether running the neighborhood or hiking the trails, he’s going to have a busy summer!

  • Exercise in the morning or evening. Avoid the afternoon when temperatures are at their peak. Let your dog dictate the activity. If they are slowing down or stopping, or working harder to breathe/panting excessively then it’s time to head inside!

  • Learn basic canine CPR and first aid! Fresh bottled water, tweezers, and some self-clinging bandaging material are just a few things that should be on hand whenever you are out and about with your pet.  Dr. Mayers teaches a FREE first aid class several times a year. The next one will be on June 4 at 10:30 AM. Please contact the clinic (864-967-7387) for more information on location. .

  • Consider Sun Protection: Avoidance of direct sunlight during peak hours (10 AM to 3 PM) is best, but there are other things you can do to protect your pooch from harmful UV rays. Look for lightweight shirts/coverings made for pets that are UV protective. Consider doggles ( to protect their eyes. You can also consider sunscreen if it is pet safe.  Most human sunscreens are not safe for pets because they contain a product called Zinc Oxide which is harmful if ingested. There is a product called BullFrog sunscreen that may be an option for dogs, but should be avoided in cats as it contains a product called salicylate.

  • Remember the 7 second rule!: If you place your hand on the pavement and cannot comfortably hold it there for more than 7 seconds, then it is too hot for your pet’s delicate paws. Consider walking at a cooler time of day. Dog boots and shoes can also be helpful.


The Traveler – this pooch is going wherever the road takes you both! Oh the places he’ll go!

  • Regional Risks – Speak with your veterinarian before traveling to different parts of the country/world. There may be some specific diseases and risks associated with different areas that you may want to protect your pet against.

  • Car Safety, part I - Seatbelts made specifically for your pet or carriers that re properly restrained can help them not only feel more secure but prevent serious injury should you have to stop suddenly or be involved in a collision. Please also keep in mind that although a dog may look as if he is smiling while holding his head out the window, he is at a huge risk should something airborne hit him in the face or again, if in a collision, he could be severely injured. Lastly, the importance of proper restraint is for your safety too. Pet’s can be both a distraction and a danger if they try to crawl in your lap or near the pedals of the car.

  • Car Safety, part II  – Everyone has heard about the dangers of leaving your dog in a hot car, however every year hundreds of dogs die from suffering heatstroke after their owners do not take these warnings seriously. Even a 70 degree day can quickly heat up a car to over 90 degrees within 15 to 20 minutes.  


The Swimmer – whether it’s riding the waves on a boat or swimming in the pool, this pup loves the water!

  • Safety first – many of the above tips apply to this dog too. Sunscreen and prevention of overheating remain concerns! Hypothermia is a concern too, however - so if the water is too cold for you to stay in, it is too cold for your dog.  And consider using a life vest for your dog – they are readily available and very affordable.

  • Supervision is a must – NEVER leave your dog unattended while swimming or near open water and NEVER assume a dog can swim. Many dogs are not able to swim and all dogs take time to learn to swim, even if they catch on quicker than most humans. If you notice your dog is having difficulty in the water, speak calmly try to guide them to safety rather than jumping in to help. A medium to large dog that is struggling can easily drown a human in a panic.

  • Don’t forget the ears! – Always clean your dog’s ears after swimming. It is important to use an ear cleaner that also has a drying agent.  See our videos on our facebook page for an ear cleaning demonstration.


Have a safe and fun summer!


Dr. Megan Vessalo