In our part of Alabama, we don’t experience insanely hot weather like some other parts of the country, but we do see some pretty high temperatures that can pose a threat to you and your pet. Seasonal hazards also can harm your furry pal when you’re playing outdoors during the summer. To help illustrate the potential summer hazards your best friend may encounter, take a look at Juniper’s* story.

Juniper’s sizzling summer safety story

“Hot dog!” Juniper thought to herself. “I wish I could unzip my fur coat and slip into whatever contraption my teenage ‘sister’ is wearing. Although it doesn’t look comfortable, at least it lets a nice breeze in.” 

On a scorching summer day in Toney, Alabama, Juniper, a 4-month-old husky puppy, was a hot, sweaty mess—or would have been, if dogs could sweat through more than their paw pads. Her thick double coat was full of mats as she shed her puppy fluff to make way for her adult coat, and the tight mats prevented any air flow from reaching her skin. 

To make matters worse, Juniper’s teenage sister had forgotten to refill her water dish, leaving the poor pup gazing longingly at the cool, refreshing pool where her sister was sunbathing. Stuck outside with no shade, no water, and no hope of cooling down, Juniper took matters into her own paws.

With an impressive leap for such a young pup, Juniper cleared her sister’s float and splashed into the pool. Unfortunately, she had never picked up how to doggy paddle, and she immediately panicked, inhaling and swallowing large amounts of pool water. Juniper’s two-legged sister towed her to safety, scolded her for interrupting her tanning time, and plopped her on the edge of the pool. 

Miffed at her sister’s treatment, Juniper decided to venture out, and check out the neighborhood, while her puppy-sitter was absorbed with TikTok videos. As Juniper strolled along the sidewalk, she caught a mouthwatering aroma, followed her sense of smell, and found a nearby cookout decked out with platters of barbecued meat, corn on the cob, and delicious side dishes. She couldn’t help but crash the cookout.

The hosts felt sorry for the lost pup, and offered her a tasty treat while they searched for her family. Unfortunately, they were unfamiliar with dogs, and especially puppies, and they gave Juniper a plate piled high with a barbecued chicken leg, a chunk of corn on the cob, and a generous portion of potato salad. Delighted with her unusual meal, Juniper scarfed down the food in seconds, bones and all. 

A little later, Juniper did not feel well. Fortunately, her cookout hosts had been able to contact her family, who arrived as she was beginning to clearly show signs of pain and distress. Panicked about their wayward pup, Juniper’s family rushed her to our Countryside Veterinary Clinic.

During Juniper’s exam, we discovered several issues, all revolving around her gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Digital X-rays revealed bone fragments from the chicken leg and pieces of corn cob, while her blood work demonstrated acute pancreatitis. Fortunately, Juniper had not suffered long before we saw her, and she was not yet displaying the typical signs of vomiting and diarrhea. 

Since Juniper had crunched the chicken bones, their sharp, jagged ends could easily pierce her stomach or intestinal tract, so our team rushed her to surgery to remove them. Because of her pancreatitis issue, and the mild GI upset from drinking so much chlorinated water, Juniper spent several days in our hospital recovering from surgery and her GI problems. She may not seem lucky, since she needed surgery and hospitalization, but Juniper was fortunate to spend July Fourth safely in our hospital, far away from fireworks, open doors, swimming pools, excessive temperatures, and more barbecued chicken legs. 

After Juniper’s post-operative and pancreatitis recovery, we sent her home with a goofy shave job where we had clipped away her mats. We gave her family a list of strict instructions to keep their thick-coated pup safe in the summer, and Juniper enjoyed the rest of her first summer without incident.

Lessons learned from Juniper’s story

Puppies get into mischief, especially when they’re supervised by a sunbathing teenage girl with a cellphone. However, your furry pal can enjoy the summer safely if you take proper precautions. Let’s learn from Juniper’s story and avoid the same mistakes, by following these summertime safety tips:

  • Groom — Grooming your pet appropriately in the summer is necessary, to prevent matting. A well-groomed coat will help keep your pet cool, no matter how thick.
  • Supervise — Monitor your pet closely around swimming pools and bodies of water. Not all pets know how to swim, plus saltwater toxicity can quickly occur if your furry pal drinks too much ocean water during a beach trip.
  • Beware barbecues — Keep your pet from joining in your cookout. Few barbecue foods are pet-friendly, since most contain bones, or corn cobs, or are high in fat. Offer your four-legged friend a cool treat instead, such as a frozen, stuffed Kong, or fresh veggies.
  • Microchip — Ensure your pet is identified with a microchip and collar ID tags. More pets go missing on July Fourth than any other day of the year, and although the holiday has passed, plenty of opportunities remain for your pet to get into mischief. 

If your furry pal ends up in hot water playing too hard outside in the summer heat, contact the Countryside Veterinary Clinic team for help. Your fur-coat-wearing friend will need a veterinary exam after a heat exhaustion episode, to ensure their health is not affected.

*Although Juniper is not a real patient at our hospital, we see the summertime issues she encountered all too frequently. Take Juniper’s tale to heart! Learn from her mistakes, and keep your own pet safe from summer dangers.