Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Summertime Threats to Pets by Dr. Dana Lewis

Cookouts and Potlucks 

The food people consume can cause mild vomiting and diarrhea to potentially fatal pancreatitis in our beloved pets. Corn cobs, bamboo skewers, and bones can cause foreign bodies requiring expensive life-saving surgery.

Keep them away from the grill because of the risk of burns and also many dogs will lick up any grease from the grill and give themselves pancreatitis.

Most people know that some foods are toxic to pets like chocolate, but so are the artificial sweetener, xylitol, as well as grapes, raisins, onions, alcoholic beverages, and others. (See our post on holiday hazards). Keep them indoors when company comes over and keep them away from the trash after everybody calls it a day.

Pool Chemicals 

Undiluted pool chemicals can be corrosive to the eyes, skin, mouth, esophagus, etc., and result in permanent injury. Always keep pool chemicals and cleaners safely out of the reach of pets and children. Also, not all pets can swim, so supervise them at the pool just like the kids.

The Beach

If large amounts of ocean water are ingested while playing on the beach, hypernatremia (an elevated salt level) can occur. Salt poisoning leads to vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, excessive thirst or urination, tremors, seizures, coma and even death.

Instead of allowing dogs to drink from the ocean, provide them with fresh water. Also, do not let them eat beach sand as that can cause a blockage of the intestines requiring surgery. Again, be cautious letting them swim. Consider a life jacket for all swimmers whether at the pool, beach, or lake. And be aware that pets can also become sunburned as well as suffer from heat stroke even if they are enjoying the water. Short nosed dogs and dogs exercising a lot are at greater risk. Pets cannot dissipate heat like we do by sweating so watch them for heavy panting and difficulty breathing, a bright red tongue and gums, saliva is thick and tenacious, and the dog often vomits. The dog becomes lethargic and unsteady, and passes bloody diarrhea. The dog goes into shock and the lips and mucous membranes turn gray. Collapse, seizures, coma, and death rapidly ensue.


Besides being potentially frightening to your pet, unused fireworks can be toxic if ingested. The chemicals in fireworks that make them pretty can cause kidney damage, seizures, liver damage, blood cell toxicity, and vomiting and diarrhea. They can also burn themselves or be injured by exploding fireworks so keep them indoors during the festivities. If your pet is frightened by the noise, talk with your veterinarian about what can be done for noise phobia (See our post on thunderstorm phobia).

Article written by Dr. Dana Lewis

Read more or contact Dr. Dana:
Dana Lewis, DVM
Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice
Raleigh, North Carolina  |

Dr. Dana assists families with Pet Hospice and Euthanasia in the Raleigh North Carolina area (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and the greater Triangle, as well as Wake, Durham, Orange, and Chatham counties. 

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