(CBS) – For most people, summer means lazy days at the pool or beach, lots of sunshine, and outdoor barbecues with family and friends.
But certain outdoor activities — along with the extreme heat the season often brings — can put your pet’s health at risk and may even be life-threatening.
Tip 1 – Try to avoid extreme heat
Just as extremely high temperatures can be harmful to people, the heat can be hard on an animal’s health, too.
“People can wear shorts and light clothes, but a dog still has on its fur coat,” Dr. Karl Jandrey, associate professor of clinical small animal emergency and critical care at the University of California, Davis, told CBS News.
Moderate heat stroke can occur in dogs when their body temperature reaches 104 to 106 degrees F.
“Normal body temperature for most dogs is 100 to 102.5 degrees, so this can happen very easily in extreme heat with activity. Heat stroke in dogs is a very terrible disease,” Jandrey said. “The high body temperatures break down their proteins and disrupt cellular function and impairs their brain function. Usually over 108 to 110 degrees these patients rarely survive.”
In extreme heat, he recommends dogs avoid high levels of physical activity for extended periods of time, such as going for a run or hike with their owner. Dogs who are outside during a heat wave should have access to plenty of water to drink and be hosed down regularly to stay cool.
Hot sidewalks or pavement can also burn dogs’ paws, so walk them on the grass if possible or put dog booties on their feet.
And of course, never leave your pet in a car unattended.
Tip 2 – Protect your dog from ticks
Warmer weather means rising concern around Lyme disease in humans, but pets are at risk, too.
Tick-borne diseases can sicken dogs and in some cases can lead to potentially fatal side effects including kidney failure.
Symptoms include joint pain and lethargy, but can be hard to spot. “These are very subtle signs. They’re not very obvious and usually snowball overtime,” Jandrey said.
Dog owners can take a number of precautions to prevent tick bites in their pets. Tick repelling products including collars, oils, and sprays can help prevent ticks from latching on or biting. And experts recommend doing some research before taking them on a run or hike in a new location.
“There are different regions that have different types of ticks and different types of infectious diseases that are carried by them,” Jandrey said. “Some ticks are more present in bushy our damp areas. Some ticks don’t go above a certain elevation when you’re in the mountains.”
Knowing this information ahead of time can help you make informed decisions on what areas to avoid and what extra precautions you may need to take.
Finally, check your dogs for ticks regularly and if you spot one, remove it as soon as possible and take them to the vet immediately if you suspect any illness.
Tip 3 – Remember Bees like the summertime, too.
In most animals, stings by bees and wasps are painful and can cause some irritation and swelling but most of the time do not pose major health risks.
However, complications can occur and owners should be aware of those signs. “If a bug bite or bee sting happens and there’s progressive swelling and itching and it becomes a whole body reaction, that animal needs veterinary attention,” Jandrey said.
Some dogs may also have a more severe anaphylactic reaction to bee stings. In these instances, they may experience vomiting and become extremely lethargic. Jandrey advises getting to the vet as soon as possible for treatment.
Tip 4 – Follow the same rules around water for your two- and four-legged kids.
While dogs have a reputation for being strong swimmers, their owners still need to exercise precautions around bodies of water.
“We do see some drownings or near-drownings in dogs on occasion,” Jandrey said. “They can easily fall into a pool but have a harder time getting out when there’s no ledge for them to step on. They can swim and struggle for a long time but then they’ll just wear out with fatigue even if they’re strong swimmers.”
Running water like streams and rivers can also pose a risk. “A lot of times dogs will want to be in the water but if it’s a fast-moving river they can instantly be 100 yards downstream and that pressure and flow can certainly put them at risk for drowning, as well,” Jandrey said.
He recommends taking similar types of precautions around water with pets as you would for small children.
“They need to have a little bit of cautionary supervision, using common sense and being careful around even spots you’re used to going to make sure it’s an OK environment,” he said. “If it’s a pool that doesn’t have a fence around it, be careful. Make sure that your animal is pretty savvy around that before letting it go unattended.”
Tip 5 – Man’s best friend is not a snake’s best friend.
In certain parts of the U.S. during the summer months, there’s a greater risk of encountering snakes.
“We have venomous snakes in all parts of the country except for maybe Alaska and Hawaii and we need to remember that while we’re out and about hiking or in the yard to keep our animals away from those snakes, and also if a bite happens from a snake, that’s potentially poisonous,” Jandrey said.
If your dog gets bitten by a snake, seek veterinary attention immediately to determine if it needs to be treated with anti-venom.
Tip 6 – Your dog might have seasonal allergies.
Just like humans, animals can experience seasonal allergies.
“Allergens in the environment change by season just like they affect certain people at certain times of the year,” Jandrey said. “Inhaled allergies like pollen, mold, trees, and plants all have seasonality to them and a lot of the animals will show their allergies seasonally. Some of these will be more persistent in the summer. It just depends what region you’re in.”
Allergies in dogs and cats tend to manifest themselves as itchy skin and issues with their coat, he said. If these symptoms persist, bring your pet to the vet to decide best treatment options.
Tip 7 – Going hiking? Be sure to keep Fido away from poison oak.
Poison ivy and poison oak typically don’t affect dogs the same way as they do humans, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some risk.
“Sometimes they’ll get on the hairs of the animal but won’t really affect the animal because it won’t get down to the skin,” Jandrey said.
It is possible that dogs will experience the same itchiness and rash experienced by people if the plants do touch the skin, but this doesn’t happen often.
However, even if contact only occurs with the fur, this can put any people who touch the animal at risk. If you or your dog experience the symptoms of poison ivy or poison oak, seek medical attention.
Tip 8 – Don’t let the dog near the barbecue.
For many, summer means grilling outdoors and cookouts with families and friends. But with so many people and distractions around, it can be easy for your pooch to go unnoticed eating food that could make it sick.
“Any foods that animals are scrounging off the ground or even that guests are feeding them, that will be off their diet and lead to GI upset and maybe some vomiting and diarrhea,” Jandrey said.
While this will normally resolve itself within a few hours, if animals get into really fatty foods or the grease drip pan that comes off the grill this can cause more severe illness.
“Vomiting can persist. Their pancreas is going to get inflamed and swollen and that can get pretty severe and may need veterinary attention,” Jandrey said.
Experts say dogs shouldn’t be given human food as treats, but if you do, make sure it is bland, not-fatty and very small pieces that are not a replacement for a meal.
Tip 9 – Your dog might need a thunder and firework buddy.
Fireworks and other loud noises can be very stressful for dogs, so try to keep your pet away from them if at all possible.
“Some animals become extremely anxious to the point of even being destructive,” Jandrey said. “Animals are really sensitive and we don’t really remember that, so what seems kind of no big deal to us it actually might be really bad for them because their sense of smell and hearing is really heightened.”