Talking with U of M

Talking summer pet safety with U of M

"A woman sits in the grass in a park, holding a yellow ball and playing with her dachshund
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There are a number of seasonal hazards our pets need to navigate during the dog days of summer, from thunderstorms and extreme heat to pesky parasites. Assistant Professor Kristi Flynn with the College of Veterinary Medicine discusses what pet owners should be on the lookout for the rest of the summer to keep their pets happy and healthy.

Q: How can pet owners keep their pets safe throughout the summer? 
Dr. Flynn:
Pet owners can prevent harm to their pets by keeping a few basics in mind. While it is fun to have our dogs with us, stop to consider if the experience will be appreciated by your pet before heading out to spend time with family and friends this summer. If your pet is not comfortable around loud noises or lots of new animals or people, then bringing them to a street fair or brewery is not likely a good fit for them — and that’s okay! If you do bring your pet, be sure to plan ahead and have plenty of water for them.

Q: What’s the best way to keep your pet cool in the summer heat?
Dr. Flynn:
Early mornings or dusk are usually better times to take dogs out when midday is hot. Dogs do not cool as efficiently via evaporation as people do, so hot and humid conditions can become dangerous quickly. Be especially careful with brachycephalic breeds like Bulldogs, Pugs and Boston Terriers. Surfaces can become hot enough to burn paw pads. One tip is to place your own palm on the pavement to determine if it is too hot for paws.  

Before taking your dog for a jog, determine if it is safe to do so. That is up to the human. If your dog's tongue is beginning to widen out at the end when panting, they are getting too warm and you should seek a comfortable area to allow them to cool off. 

Q: What can we do to help pets stressed by stormy weather?
Dr. Flynn:  
Remember, fear is an emotion, not a behavior. Providing your dog with support and comfort when they're experiencing fear will not make them more afraid in the future, but acting cold and ignoring them certainly can. Find a quiet place in the house, play music and reach out to your veterinarian to see if medication could help your pet feel more comfortable during storms.

Q: What should dog owners consider when letting their pets swim in a lake?
Dr. Flynn:
Always monitor your pet to make sure they’re not drinking too much lake water or swimming past when they are getting tired. If you want to get your dog comfortable with water, don’t push them and let your pet determine what they are comfortable with. Blue green algae is also something to be aware of, as this toxin is quickly lethal for pets who ingest it — if the water looks suspicious at all, avoid it. 

Q: Are there any other summer hazards to be aware of?
Dr. Flynn:
When the air quality is concerning, try to limit time outdoors for your dogs as you would for yourself. Also, as dogs are out more in warmer months, there is also an increased risk of a dog getting away and being lost or injured. Remember, leash = love. 


About the College of Veterinary Medicine
The University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine affects the lives of animals and people every day through educational, research, service, and outreach programs. Established in 1947, the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine is Minnesota’s only veterinary college. Fully accredited, the college has graduated over 4,000 veterinarians and hundreds of scientists. The college is also home to the Veterinary Medical Center, the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, the Leatherdale Equine Center and The Raptor Center. Learn more at

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