7 Tips for Keeping Your Dog Safe This Summer

Updated: Aug 2


1. Prevent Heat stroke

Daisy Rests in the Shade During a Visit to Central Park

Heat stroke is a serious summer danger to all pets. Heat stroke is when your dog's internal temperature rises up to 106ºF - 108ºF. A dog’s normal temperature is typically 100ºF- 102ºF. It is a life-threatening condition, and causes your dog’s organs to fail. All dogs are at risk for heatstroke during hot summer days. But, some dogs are more at risk including dogs who are brachycephalic (have a short nose), dogs with a dark brown or black coat, and overweight dogs. [5]


According to The Animal Medical Center, symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • Hot skin

  • Vomiting

  • Frequent, heavy, or non-stop Panting

  • Distress collapse

  • Incoordination

  • Loss of consciousness 

  • Hot red skin

  • Weakness

If you think your dog has developed heat stroke it is very important to get them to your nearest emergency vet ASAP. You do not have time to try to see if this resolves on its own at home. 


Some ways to avoid heat stroke while out with your dog include:

  • Going out early or late in the day to avoid the afternoon heat

  • Keep outside short and sweet

  • Take frequent breaks

  • Spend time in the shade

  • Bring water and have your dog drink frequently

  • NEVER leave your dog in the car

  • Consider a cooling jacket (Read our review here)

Picture of a Dog Wearing a Cooling Vest from the Ruffwear Website

2. Beware of Hot pavement

Dustin wears boots and a cold shirt during a heatwave last summer. If you're curious about retractable leash safety click here for our blog post that explores the topic.


Another summer danger lies right under our feet. The pavement that we walk on with our shoes can become dangerously hot for our dog's bare paws. According to an article by James J Berens M.D. in the Journal of the American Medical Association, asphalt that is in direct sunlight at an air temperature of just 77ºF will quickly reach 125ºF. At 125ºF skin destruction can happen in as little as 60 seconds. [2] (I’ll save you the graphic images, but if you’re curious just search dog paw burns from pavement into google)

Luckily there are a few things you can do to help your dogs enjoy walks safely. 


1. Test the pavement

Touch the pavement with the back of your hand. If you are unable to hold your hand there, without pain, for 5-10 seconds, it is too hot for your dog’s paws. 


2. Boots

Boots can be really helpful to keep your dog’s paws safe. The typical NYC rubber winter booties are not appropriate to prevent heat burns. Instead, look for boots with a solid rubber sole. 


3. Avoid 

Avoid walking your dog on hot pavement. Change your typical walks so that your dog is walking in the shade and on grass or dirt. Also avoid walking in the middle of the afternoon, instead, walk early and later in the day. 


3. Think before you Shave

@karsen_xo's husky had an unfortunate shave down

Unfortunately, the idea that giving your dog a summer shave down is the perfect solution to scorching summer heat, is a myth. Most dogs do not need to be shaved, and in some cases, it actually causes more problems than it solved. [4]


Single coated breeds are dog’s who’s hair continues to grow and frequently require haircuts. You can shave their hair for summer if you would like. However, if you shave them too short they are prone to sunburns and can even develop skin cancer. If you do decide to shave your single coated dog, ensure you put high SPF sunscreen on before going outside. 


Double coated breeds like huskies, Pomeranians, Australian Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Bernese Mountain Dogs should absolutely, never be shaved. Shaving does not help keep them cool. Their double coat actually helps cool them down and prevent heat stroke. 


As the summer heats up your double coated breed will shed. The hair that is falling off is their undercoat. The undercoat keeps them nice and warm in the winter. Without it, they are left with just their guard hairs. The guard hairs prevent sunburns and heat stroke by reflecting the sun while circulating air to help your dog cool down.  If you shave off all of their hair, they grow back both guard hair and undercoat at the same time, which can cause heat stroke. [6]


Not only is not shaving your double coated breed important for safety, once you have shaved their hair it is “ruined” and will never grow back the same. 


4. Be Careful While Swimming

Dustin is not a strong swimmer so he wears his life jacket in the water.


Just like people dogs can, and do, drown. Treat your dog like a 3-year-old who does not know how to swim, and never ever ever leave them unsupervised around any body of water. If there is a way to close a gate or otherwise restrict your dog’s access to water that is ideal. 


Not all dogs are good swimmers, and unfortunately, accidents do happen. Even if your dog is a strong swimmer drowning is still a serious risk.


If your dog has never been swimming before it is a good idea to buy them a doggie life jacket. Acclimate them to the life jacket on land, for a week or so before actually swimming. Also, take the swimming slowly, let your dog walk into the pool, lake, or ocean at their own pace. Do not force them into the water. If your dog doesn't like to want to go swimming it is absolutely ok, they do not have to! 

Dustin Cautiously Wades into the Water

Depending on where you bring your dog swimming there are a few different things to keep in mind. At the ocean, you need to be very careful of tides and currents, and your dog can swim off as far as they would like. Because of this, it is a good idea to have your dog on a light-weight, waterproof, biothane long leash. If they swim too far, get too tired, or get pulled back by a wave you can easily reach them. 


In a pond or lake setting, it is important to be aware of blue-green algae. Also known as Cyanobacteria, blue-green algae is toxic to dogs and other animals (people included). It is the blueish-greenish film that is found atop many lakes and ponds. It blooms in stagnant bodies of water and thrives in warm summer temperatures. [3]


Dogs can be affected by blue-green algae from drinking or swimming in infected waters. It is best to completely avoid any water that could be infected. Even a tiny amount of blue-green algae can be fatal. There is not currently an antitoxin for blue-green algae. If you suspect that your dog has ingested any immediate veterinary care is necessary. [1]


5. Remember Tick Preventative

Ticks are prevalent across the country in warm summer months. Before spending time outdoors with your dog it is important to talk to your vet to determine what tick preventative treatment is best for your dog. If you find a tick on your dog, it is important to remove it properly by twisting the head with the body. It is possible to remove the ticks body and leave the head on- you don’t want this. If you are concerned about the bite, you can save the tick in a ziplock plastic bag and bring it to your vet[7]



6. Look out for Poisonous plants

While lovely, some summer plans do cause a risk for toxicity to your dog. The infographic above shares some. This link to the ASPCA poison control center has an in-depth look at dozens of plants and lists their risks.


If you are concerned that your dog has ingested a potentially toxic plant you can call the ASPCA poison control 24/7, even on holidays. The phone number is: 888-426-4435











7. Travel Safely

During summer many people take advantage of dog -friendly vacations. While a great opportunity to explore and bond with your dog traveling is not without risks. Below are a few safety tips to keep in mind:

  1. Your dog’s ID tag should be up to date and worn at all times. 

  2. Research the closest emergency vet offices at your destination. If there was an emergency you don't want to waste precious time googling where to go.

  3. Never ever ever leave your dog alone in a car. Even if you keep the car running this is extremely risky. Hundreds of dogs die every summer being left in hot cars. 

  4. Check the floor of all hotel/rental rooms upon arrival. Make sure there is no rat poison down or medications that other people have dropped. 

  5. Bring your dog’s vaccine records and medical info with you when you travel. 

  6. Like children and people, dogs should be safely secured while riding in the car. There are many travel crates on the market today. Look for one that has been crash-tested.


© Leash and Learn 2020



_________________ [1] Algae That Can Kill Dogs Is Discovered in 3 N.Y.C. Parks. (2019, August 26). Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/25/nyregion/toxic-algae-nyc-parks.html


[2] Berens JJ. Thermal Contact Burns From Streets and Highways.JAMA.1970;214(11):2025–2027. doi:10.1001/jama.1970.03180110035007

[3] Cyanobacteria Is Toxic To Dogs. (2020, March 4). Retrieved from https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/blue-green-algae/

[4] Heat Wave Approaching! Should You Shave Your Pet? (2017, July 14). Retrieved from https://www.aspca.org/news/heat-wave-approaching-should-you-shave-your-pet

[5] Heatstroke. (2018, July 4). Retrieved from https://www.amcny.org/blog/2018/07/04/heatstroke

[6] Henriques, J. (2020, September 4). Why You Shouldn’t Shave Your Dog In Summer. Retrieved from https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/why-you-shouldnt-shave-your-dog-in-summer/


[7] P. (2019, June 13). How to Remove Ticks on Dogs and Cats. Retrieved from https://www.petmd.com/dog/parasites/how-to-remove-a-tick-from-dog-cat

[8] Toxic and Non Toxic Plants. (2014). Retrieved from https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants