Recent News >

Summer Safety Tips for Pets

By Tara Lanier

Auburn, Alabama —

Summer - a time when everyone is more active and more likely to be outside, but also a time that can be dangerous for pets.  The Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine and its Small Animal Teaching Hospital offers some safety tips for your pets.

"The heat is always going to be a concern for pets," said Dr. Linda Martin, P.B. Griffin Distinguished Professor of Critical Care Medicine. "Especially for those people who travel and leave their pets in cars.”

No Parking with Pets

“Dogs and cats can be affected by heat stroke,” said Dr. Martin. “Even with windows cracked, the inside of a car can easily exceed 100 degrees. A good rule-of-thumb is if it is not safe for a child then it is not safe for a pet.”

Heat Stroke

“Heat stroke can occur from being left in a car, playing in the yard, going on a run, or lying in a room with poor temperature control.  To prevent overheating, keep fresh drinking water available and provide access to shade,” said Dr. Sara-Louise Newcomer with Auburn’s Community Practice service.

Signs of heat stroke are excessive panting, restlessness, vomiting, diarrhea, and unresponsiveness. A dog with a temperature of 104 F should be cooled down as soon as possible. Water bath with tepid water (a garden hose usually works well).  Avoid cold water, ice water baths, or ice packs.

Snake Bite

"We see a lot of dogs that are bitten," Dr. Martin said. "Most dogs are inquisitive and they usually have their nose down investigating; so majority of the snake bites we see are to the face, head and neck region."

Symptoms of snake bite include localized swelling around the bite-area, pain, and shock.  Assume the snake is venomous. Transport the dog keeping it calm and the bite site below the level of the heart, if possible. Do not apply ice, suction, or a tourniquet to the bite site.

Toxic Substances

Summer cookouts can be dangerous for your pet.  Keep guest beverages and foods away, especially caffeine, alcohol, xylitol (artificial sweetener), grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, unbaked bread, onions, and garlic.

Summer is also a time for cleaning – boats, cars, garages. Keep cleaning products like bleaches, detergents, and disinfectants and the fumes of such cleaning agents away from pets.  Be careful where you place or store rat and mouse poisons, and antifreeze.

If your dog ate, drank, or inhaled a toxic substance within the last two hours, inducing vomiting at home may be encouraged depending on the substance. If ingestion occurred within one hour, contact your veterinarian immediately to find out specific instructions to induce vomiting and then transport the animal to a veterinarian or emergency clinic. Gather information for your veterinarian including the type of toxin (it’s helpful to bring the toxin’s container), and collect and bring anything your dog may have chewed or vomited in a sealable plastic bag.

Fireworks and Thunder Make Anxious Pets

Leave your pets at home when going to fireworks presentations, and never use fireworks around pets.  The result can be trauma or severe burns.

Like fireworks can make Fido fearful, so can thunder.  Keep your pets in a secure area until the storm passes.  Shelters see an increase in strays following thunder storms and dogs are known to go through plate glass windows in attempts to escape.

The Auburn University Small Animal Teaching Hospital offers a 24-hour Emergency and Critical Service. Many treatments are available through the Emergency and Critical Care Service, including blood transfusions with the help of on-site donors, oxygen therapy, and dialysis.  Community Practice is a full-service wellness care clinic that provides preventive care and basic sick care for pets of the general public within a 25-mile radius.

For more information on Auburn’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital, visit  For emergencies, call 334-844-4690.

Contact: Tara Lanier, 334-844-3698,