Summer is a time for cookouts, pool parties, and fun vacations, but it is also a time when dangers to pets increase, so pet caregivers need to take special precautions.

Unlike humans, dogs cannot regulate their body temperature by sweating, so they are more prone to heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Signs of heatstroke include weakness, rapid panting, and thick sticky saliva. It is important to check on your pet often on hot days and keep him cool, as heatstroke doesn’t take long to develop, and quick response is necessary. Get him into a cool place immediately, and, if available, provide a fan to provide a breeze. Apply a cold towel or an ice pack to the head, neck and chest, or immerse him in tepid (not ice cold) water. Don’t discourage your dog from panting…It’s the canine air-conditioning system, and no matter how labored it is, it means that your dog is working to expel heat from his body.

YouTube videos may show us dogs having great fun in the water, and many dogs love water, and water play is a great way for dogs to stay cool in summer and wear themselves out at the same time, but bodies of water often hold hazards that are not immediately visible. One water-borne risk is from giardia, a microscopic protozoal parasite that infects the intestines, often through drinking contaminated water. Giardia is one of the most common intestinal infections that attack dogs, and the best way to help prevent this problem is to ensure that your dog doesn’t drink potentially contaminated water. If you are camping or hiking, carry fresh water, or filter, or boil it before giving it to your dog. Blue-green algae is a toxic bacterial mix that can cause respiratory problems, affect the liver and neurological system, or cause death if he drinks it. Dogs can ingest the bacteria when they drink lake water or lick themselves after swimming in contaminated water. Keep your dog out of any water that you suspect has a harmful algae bloom, and if he hops in, rinse him thoroughly with fresh water as soon as possible.

Ear infections are especially common during summertime, especially among dogs that swim frequently. These infections are often caused by water entering dogs’ ears while swimming. Help prevent this by using a vet-prescribed ear leaner to clean and dry their ears after swimming.

The buzzing of bees and wasps seem to motivate your dog to investigate, and while curiosity may not kill him, it can result in a painful sting. Watch how your dog responds to the sting. If there is a lot of swelling, and she becomes irritated and scratches at the stung area, you should call your vet.

Everyone loves barbecues and cookouts, especially your dog who will usually get a little of this and a taste of that, but many barbeque favorites can pose problems for your dog. Many meats are seasoned with garlic and onions, both of which are toxic to dogs. Food with bones can be very dangerous, as they may splinter and injure their GI system, sometimes even piercing their bowels. Corn on the cob is a grilling staple, but digesting corn cobs is difficult and may be a choking hazard. An overlooked toothpick or skewer can pierce or make a hole in the intestines.

As a pet caregiver, you can reduce the risks of summer dangers by monitoring your dog closely, and being aware of the dangers that may be present. Take the right precautions, and you and your companion can relax and enjoy the summer in comfort and safety.