June 11, 2015

Summertime Hazards for your Dog

I was planning on having a nice, photo-clad vacation recap for you today, but shit it the fan life happened this week.

Late Tuesday night, I had to rush Gunner to the emergency vet.
He was rubbing and scratching at his eye that was swollen closed. After some deliberation I took him to the vet, and boy was I glad. Two large pieces of cheat grass had gotten into his eye and could have caused even more serious problems if left alone.
Laying awake after the whole ordeal I thought about how summertime is full of threats, especially for our pets. It's important to be aware of them so that you don't end up like we did. With a large ulcer (scratch) in the eye, and a week in the cone of shame.


Plus there's a lot worse threats than cheat grass! Here's my list of hazards to be wary of for your furry best bud this summer:

Cheat Grass

As mentioned before, this can get into eyes, ears, noses, paws and other sensitive parts of the body and cause major problems because it "digs" in and doesn't come back out.
"Cheatgrass, also known as Cheat grass (two words), June Grass, Downy Brome, grass awn, or by the scientific name, Bromus tectorum L., is a common and invasive type of weed, found in many parts of North America. It is also called foxtail.

The danger for pets lies in the "invasiveness" of the dry seed pods found in late summer and early fall. These pods have one-way microscopic barbs that allow the seed to work its way into fur, skin, and mucous membranes, but not work itself back out, much like the one-way movement of porcupine quills."

Tips to recognize potential problems and keep grass awns away from your pets.

  • Keep weeds out of your pet's yard and enclosure.
  • Keep pets out of dry grassy fields and roadsides.
  • Keep your pet's coat clean and well-groomed. This will help reduce grass seed accumulation and make for easier daily inspections.
  • Inspect your pet daily for hair mats (where grass awns like to hide) and between toes.
  • Clipping the hair between paw pads in dogs will reduce potential for picking up grass awns.
  • Any time your pet is excessively sneezing, drooling, shaking their head, scratching ears, whining, licking at their paw or other body part excessively, please have them checked by your veterinarian as soon as possible to prevent further damage.

Fleas and Ticks

We all know about this one right? It is important during the summer months, or even year round in warmer climates, to protect your dog from fleas and ticks. Luckily there are lots of options for protecting your pet, from drops to shots to collars. Consult your vet for the best option for you. I found a great deal on drops at Costco!


While ticks themselves are not overly threatening, the diseases they carry can be very harmful  to your pet. Plus, left un-removed, ticks can cause problems over time. As for fleas - well that's a whole itchy mess you want to avoid for your pet and your whole family!

Make sure you check your pet regularly, especially if you frequent wilderness type or open fielded areas. Ticks can be removed at home. Humanesociety.org has a great article and how to on their page.

Heat Stroke

With temperatures on the rise, I always worry about Gunner getting heat exhaustion or even worse, heat stroke, which can cause life threatening issues.  Since dogs can't sweat to cool down, they are more at risk of overheating.


 Luckily, heat stroke is preventable by keeping your pet from extreme heat. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES LEAVE THEM IN A HOT CAR!!!

Here's a great overview from PetMD.com -

What To Watch For

Excessive panting and signs of discomfort indicate overheating. However, it is important to be aware of the ambient temperature and take appropriate preventative measures. 

Primary Cause

Any hot environment can cause heatstroke, but the most common cause is careless actions such as leaving a dog in a car on a hot day or forgetting to provide shade to an animal kept outdoors.

Immediate Care 

It is essential to remove the dog from the hot environment immediately. If it is unconscious, make sure no water enters the nose or mouth as you follow these guidelines. Also, do not give the dog aspirin to lower its temperature; this can lead to other problems.

  1. Put your dog in the bath tub.
  2. Run a cool (not cold) shower over your pet, covering the whole body -- especially the back of the head and neck.
  3. Allow the water to fill up the bathtub as you shower the dog. Keep the head elevated to prevent aspiration pneumonia.
  4. If getting the dog into the tub is impractical, use a garden hose to cool the dog or place him in a pool of cool water.
  5. Apply a cold pack to the dog’s head to help lower his body temperature -- a packet of frozen vegetables works fine.
  6. Massage the legs. A vigorous rubbing helps the dog’s circulation and reduces the risks of shock.
  7. Let the dog drink as much cool or cold water as it wants. Adding a pinch of salt to the water bowl will help the dog replace the minerals it lost through panting.

The following steps should be taken, regardless of whether the dog is conscious, appears to recover well, or was only mildly affected:

  1. Check for signs of shock.
  2. Take the dog’s temperature every five minutes, continuing water-cooling until it drops below 103°F (39.4°C) .
  3. If the dog’s temperature drops a little more – to around 100°F (37.8°C) – don’t worry. A slightly low temperature is a lot less dangerous.
  4. Treat for shock if necessary.
  5. Get immediate veterinary attention. Heatstroke can cause unseen problems, such as swelling of the brain, kidney failure, and abnormal clotting of blood. On the way to the veterinarian, travel with the windows open and the air conditioner on.

While summer is the best time of year to have fun in the sun with your pet, it is also one of the most dangerous. Be sure you know the risks and what to look for! My list is just a general overview, but any time your pet is acting abnormal or showing pain or issues, make sure you do your research and/or seek medical care for them.

Keep your prayers and thoughts with my boy - it's not going to be a fun recovery for him. Here's hoping our pain can prevent yours!

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  1. I'm so so glad he's alright! I can't imagine having that stuff STUCK in your eye! Poor pup!

  2. Aww! Poor guy. I've never even heard of cheat grass before. I'm worried about heat stroke with Bear & Zoey, especially when we go to the dog park.

  3. Oh no. Poor Gunner. :( I'm sorry he's going through that. The threats for animals are REAL any time of year. It frightens me often.

  4. Aww poor Gunner! I had no idea that stuff could get stuck in a dog's eyes, that's scary! Thanks for sharing, I don't think we have any in our yard but I will definitely keep an eye out!

  5. Ginger had an eye ulcer a few summers ago & it really does suck for them! Although I have to admit, both boxers now LOVE to get eye drops put in (b/c if one gets them the other has too #jealous). Tank, the third boxer we had, got heat stroke once and it is SUPER scary and truly a hazard most people don't think about.

  6. Poor guy hope he gets to feeling better. Ticks seriously freak me out!

  7. Oh no! I hope Gunner is okay soon. How terrifying. I once had a dog who went after a groundhog. That's a summertime hazard in PA for sure.

  8. Awwwww poor Gunner!!!! I hope that he feels better ASAP. Things like this scare the crap out of me with my dogs. And they can't tell you what is wrong.

  9. Poor guy! I had never heard of that, but will be cautious about it now. Hope he has a quick recovery!

  10. Oh no! Good thing Gunner is okay! Hope he recovers quickly!

  11. Poor Gunner!

    I don't dogs should be left inside cars during fall or winter, either. Cars can warm up quite a bit if the weather is sunny, even if the temperature is cool.

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