6/13/2022 | By Family Features

Summer means extra time outdoors. Sunny months provide a perfect opportunity for bonding with pets, but higher temperatures, seasonal plants and pests, and additional travel can pose higher risks for complications. To help keep dogs, cats, and other pets safe during summer adventures, consider these summertime pet safety tips from the experts at VCA Animal Hospitals and others.

Summertime Pet Safety

Beat the heat

Dogs and cats cannot control their body temperature by sweating as humans do. They have a small number of sweat glands located in their footpads and primarily regulate their temperature by panting. Vigorous exercise, leaving a pet in a vehicle with poor ventilation – even if the windows are down – or being left outside without shade and water on hot days can lead to heatstroke, or hyperthermia.

dog and cat in car - Photo by Natalia Bachkova Dreamstime. Heat, seasonal pests, and travel pose dangers for dogs, cats, and other pets. Follow these summertime pet safety tips for a safe, fun summer.

Increased humidity combined with warmer temperatures intensifies the risk of heat stroke, especially during the first few warm days as pets transition to outdoor activity. If your pet exhibits any symptoms of heatstroke – elevated breathing rates, dry or sticky gums, lethargy, disorientation, abnormal gum color, bruised gums or seizures – pour cool water over your pet’s head, stomach and feet or apply cool, wet cloths, ensure continuous airflow and see a veterinarian immediately.

Although all pets can suffer in heat, brachycephalic dogs – those with short faces, including bulldogs – experience even more difficulty cooling themselves naturally. Because of their short always, these dogs experience brachycephalic airway syndrome (BAS), which causes inefficient breathing and, therefore, inefficient cooling.

Keep insects at bay

As pets spend more time outdoors in the summer, they’re often exposed to pests like ticks, mosquitoes, and fleas. Guarding against these dangerous pests is among the most important of summertime pet safety tips.


Ticks can transmit serious diseases to both dogs and cats. According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council, as many as 1 in 20 dogs tested positive for tick-borne diseases in 2021. Ticks climb onto pets from blades of grass or fall from overhanging trees and foliage.

If a tick finds its way onto your pet, use tweezers or disposable gloves to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible then pull straight out with steady, even pressure until the tick releases.

tick on a blade of grass - photo by Edgar Loehr Dreamstime. Heat, seasonal pests, and travel pose dangers for dogs, cats, and other pets. Follow these summertime pet safety tips for a safe, fun summer.

If you find a tick, carefully inspect all areas of skin, including behind the ears and between the toes, for additional ticks. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area with soap and water and wash your hands. Save the tick in a resealable plastic bag to show your veterinarian and take note of the time and place the bite occurred and any other details that may aid your veterinarian should an illness occur. Use the appropriate tick preventative measures for your pet, and make sure the product is safe to be used for your pet’s size. Never use dog flea and tick products on cats.


Heartworm disease, which is transmitted by mosquito bites, poses major risks to dogs, ferrets, and to a lesser extent to cats. Prevention is the best medicine:

  • Help keep your yard mosquito free by removing standing water, such as buckets, deep puddles, etc.
  • Keep pets inside during peak mosquito times – after sundown, for example.
  • Use heartworm protection products as recommended by your veterinary professional.


Fleas are worse in the summer, too, and can cause serious problems for pets, besides simply being an itchy nuisance. To keep your pets safe from these problems:

  • Vacuum frequently.
  • Wash pet bedding regularly.
  • Mow lawns regularly and clear brush from around houses and other buildings.
  • Use flea-prevention protection products as recommended by your veterinary professional.

Travel safely

If you plan to travel with your pet, packing the necessities for your animal is an important part of summertime pet safety. Your pet’s luggage should include food, water bowls, treats, a leash and collar (with identification tags), toys, medications, and printed copies of medical records, including vaccination history. Check with your veterinarian to determine if a health certificate is needed for travel. Also ensure your pet is comfortable with his or her crate or carrier before flying or embarking on a long road trip.

Related: Long-distance travel and moving tips for pets

Knowing where to take your pet in case of an emergency while away from home is also essential. Look up emergency veterinary clinics near your destination before departing or ask if your vet offers virtual care options. For example, through the myVCA app, you can access 24/7 live chat with licensed veterinary professionals.

Family Features