Monday, 10 June 2013

Summer Safety for your Pets

Summer has finally arrived!  While the weather is wonderful for relaxing outside in your backyard, having barbeques, and preparing your gardens, the summer season also reveals several toxins that your pets may be exposed to, which are very dangerous for your pets’ health.  When your pets are playing outside, they should be confined to a safe area that is free of these dangers, otherwise they should be closely supervised at all times.  To ensure a pet safe yard, inspect fence perimeters to ensure that the fence is fully enclosed, and there are no holes where a dog or cat would be able to escape.


Salt/chlorinated water pools can be very dangerous to your dog, if for instance you take your dog for a swim.  Dogs are not aware that the pool water is harmful, and if they consume it in large amounts this can result in hypernatremia (salt poisoning) or chlorine poisoning. Initial signs of hypernatremia or chlorine poisoning include vomiting and diarrhea, and it can progress very quickly.  If contracted, it is important to bring your pet to the vet right away to be treated with IV fluids. 

Stale water and dog water dishes shared by several dogs (as seen in some dog parks) should also be avoided, as dogs can potentially contract Parvovirus.  Parvovirus can survive in cages, on food, and water dishes, and is a life-threatening viral disease.  Hospitalization is critical for successful treatment. 

Help to avoid hypernatremia and Parvovirus by carrying your own fresh bottle of water for your dog to have when on the beach or outside in the backyard or at dog parks.

Plants & Garden

Several pets will chew on plants in the yard.  While most grasses are non-toxic, they can result in gastrointestinal upset when they are ingested, and cause vomiting.  Some plants grown in the summer of particular concern, and should be kept away from pets are:

Tomato plants, rhubarb, poinsettias, and Easter lily.  Tulips, Lily of the valley, Oleander, Kalanchoe, and Azaleas can be life threatening if digested in large amounts.

Be careful growing onions and garlic in your garden, as they contain thiosulphate, which is toxic to cats and dogs, and can cause hemolytic anemia.  Symptoms of this condition include: lethargy, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Grapes also present a significant health concern for dogs.  Ingestion of even small amounts of grapes can result in vomiting, diarrhea, and sometimes even acute renal failure.  Veterinary care is required for treatment, and includes decontamination, IV fluid therapy, and close monitoring.

Wild Mushrooms

Although most mushrooms are non-toxic, not all mushrooms are.  The main problem with mushroom ingestion in pets is the fact that there are so many different types of mushrooms that a specific type may not be easily identifiable.   If digestion occurs, pay close attention to see if symptoms occur such as vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, tremors, and seizures.  Also, take a sample of the mushroom for possible identification when getting veterinary assistance. The best option is to avoid the risk of mushroom consumption by inspecting your backyard prior to leaving your pet in the yard unsupervised, and disposing of all mushrooms that you are unfamiliar with.

Pesticides & Herbicides

Pesticides and herbicides these days are much safer than they used to be.  Typically, when applied according to the label, they are relatively a low risk to pets.  That said, pesticides can often contain bone meal which is particularly appetizing to dogs.  Although it is not a toxicity concern, it can result in severe pancreatitis when ingested.

Ensure that your pets are kept off of the treated surfaces until the product is completely dry.  Also, ensure that the containers of concentrated product is out of the pets’ reach.  The potential for toxicity in pets is increased if they have access to chew on the containers, or when the product is applied improperly.  Glyphosate and 2,4-D are the two most common herbicides.  Symptoms of ingestion include; lethargy, drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea.  IV fluids are required for treatment.


While it is not poisonous for pets, heat from the hot summer weather can be deadly to pets.  Since pets don’t perspire as humans do, they are much more susceptible to getting heat stroke.  Signs of heat stroke include rapid heart rate, heavy breathing, drooling, vomiting, faintness, and collapse. Pets should never be left alone in a car on a hot day, as they can develop heat stroke even quicker in a vehicle.  To avoid heatstroke, bring water with you, let your pet get plenty of water, provide a shaded area with lots of air movement, and even bathe your pet in cool water.


In order to prevent all of these potential pet dangers, take all the necessary precautions, to avoid these risks.  Clean up and inspect your backyard, carefully monitor your pet and what they are consuming in your backyard, garden, and at dog parks, carry fresh water with you and your pet at all times, educate yourself on the symptoms to recognize, and have an emergency procedure in place for your pet, so that you will be able to act quickly should urgent care be required.