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Summer safety tips for pets in the Okanagan

Summer is here, and we’re here to help you and your furry family stay safe and have fun!

Here are some hazards to watch for when you’re exploring the valley with your pets, and ways to avoid them.

<who>Photo Credit: Fairfield Animal Hospital</who>

Hot Pavement

When temperatures are heating up outside, so are the sidewalks! Your dog’s paw pads are sensitive to the heat.

There is a simple test to see if the asphalt is too hot. Place the back of your hand on the pavement - if you cannot hold it there for five seconds, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws.

Warning signs:

  • Limping or trying to stop walking
  • Licking at paw pads
  • Darkened color, redness, peeling or blisters on the paw pads

How to avoid:

  • Avoid walking on pavement during the heat of the day - find grassy areas, or walk during early morning or evening when temperatures are lower
  • Natural paw waxes offer a layer of protection
  • Summer dog booties

<who>Photo Credit: Fairfield Animal Hospital</who>

Hot Cars

Even with the windows cracked, it is simply too hot to leave your pets in the car during the summer.

Temperatures inside your car will rise to unsafe levels within minutes, putting your pet at serious risk. If you are out running errands, please leave your pets at home!

<who>Photo Credit: Fairfield Animal Hospital</who>


Heat exhaustion does not just affect people - it can be just as big of an issue for pets! Unlike people, dogs don’t sweat to release excess body heat, they do so by panting.

But sometimes panting isn’t enough when temperatures are high.

Heat exhaustion can occur if their body temperature is raised above 103 degrees.

Warning signs:

  • Excessive panting and rapid heart rate
  • Glazed eyes
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Dizziness and disorientation, less responsive to commands
  • Convulsions, and eventually collapse

<who>Photo Credit: Fairfield Animal Hospital</who>

How to avoid:

  • Go for walks in the early morning and evening, when temperatures are lower
  • Moderate outdoor play and walks with frequent breaks for rest in the shade
  • Bring enough water for both of you, and carry a collapsible bowl
  • If close to a body of water, let them take a dip to cool off
  • If not close to a body of water, wet their neck, armpits, ears and paw pads with water

Dogs will continue playing until they simply cannot anymore - so it’s up to owners to moderate their time in the heat.

Even if they are playing in the water, they can still get heat exhaustion if not given enough time for rest. If you suspect your dog has heat stroke, contact your veterinarian immediately.

<who>Photo Credit: Fairfield Animal Hospital</who>

Spear Grass

Spear grass is a type of wild grass that is prevalent around the Okanagan. It has a sharp point with fine stems spreading away from its center.

This barbed shape means that it can become easily embedded in your dog’s skin, which can cause discomfort and infection.

Spear grass is most commonly embedded in between dogs’ toes and in their ear canals.

Warning signs:

  • Toes: Excessive licking and chewing at paws, pain, swelling and redness
  • Ears: Head shaking, tilting or crying if ears are touched

Check your dog’s paws and coat carefully after hiking. If you suspect your dog has spear grass, contact your veterinarian.

<who>Photo Credit: Fairfield Animal Hospital</who>


Rattlesnakes are common around many hiking trails in the Okanagan, and their bites can be extremely dangerous.

Warning signs:

  • Puncture wounds, typically on the muzzle or legs (can be bleeding or dry)
  • Severe pain and swelling
  • Restlessness, panting, or tremors
  • Lethargy, weakness, or collapse

How to avoid:

Rattlesnakes are often hiding in grassy areas, but can sometimes simply be on a trail. It’s best to keep your dogs leashed on trails and in rural areas so you can stop them from rushing up to a snake.

If you see one, calmly and slowly back away, then leave the area.

If your dog is bitten, carry small dogs and walk larger dogs to the car, then get them to your veterinarian immediately.

<who>Photo Credit: Fairfield Animal Hospital</who>

Summers in the Okanagan are a dogs dream come true!

Let's all do our part and make sure they have the best, and safest, summer ever!

Pets First with Westbank Animal Care Hosptial offers monthly tips and information for pet owners in the Okanagan so that we can all stay safe and have fun with our furry friends in this beautiful valley! Westbank Animal Care Hosptial offers high-quality, compassionate care for your feline and canine companions.

For more information, please visit our website and Facebook page.

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