4 Holiday Hazards for Dog and Horse Owners

Canine Skin Solutions | Equine Skin Solutions

Dr. Karen Helton Rhodes & Dr. Terri Bonenberger - Veterinary Dermatologist

www.HealthySkin4Dogs.com | www.HealthySkin4Horses.com

The summer is a time to relax and enjoy the warm weather as well as get together with family and friends for holiday festivities.  Don’t forget to keep your fur-family safe! Summertime activities can often be stressful for both dogs and horses.


Remember these simple tips to eliminate summertime hazards for your animal family:


1.  Heat Stroke Simply exercise common sense:  if it is too hot for you- it is too hot for your animals! 

Horses should have access to shelter or shade to escape the summer heat and the relentless onslaught of bugs.  Make sure there is ample fresh water at all times.  A cool shower and a fan can go a long way to insure the comfort of your horse. Also, avoid rigorous exercise during the hottest times of the day.  Early morning and evenings may be best. 

Dogs are often exposed to excess heat when left in cars during the day.  This is entirely avoidable:  just don’t do it! Never leave your dog in an unattended car during the summer months.  No excuses.  Dogs with heavy coats, those that might be overweight, older pets, and those breeds with shorter & flatter faces (such as Bulldogs) are more prone to heat stroke. Heat stroke can lead to multiple organ failure and may result in death.  Remember, pavement temperatures can reach upwards of 130 degrees (F) and cause footpad injury.

2.  Noise anxiety is real.  Fireworks and loud music can be stressful and induce panic in animals. Terrified horses may break through fences and injure themselves.  Loose horses near a roadway can be dangerous to both the animal and nearby motorists.  Horses may exhibit signs of stress by pacing or snorting and, ultimately, giving in to the “flight” response.  Noise phobic dogs may become panicked, pull away, and escape from their owners at parks where fireworks are displayed.  Watch for signs such as trembling, barking, chewing, whining, drooling, or panting.

Secure your animals in a safe, dark and, preferably, quiet place.  Horses are safest in a stall with all escape routes secured and provided with plenty of hay.  Dogs may feel safest in a small room with dim lights, soothing music and plenty of distracting toys.


3.  Crowds:  People love dogs and want to offer them treats.  Avoid spicy, fatty, rich foods from well-meaning visitors!  Gastrointestinal problems are common reasons for emergency room visits during the holiday seasons. Also, some dogs may become aggressive due to anxiety and catch you off-guard.  Remember, if you see a dog with a yellow ribbon attached to the collar or leash- approach slowly and with caution.  It is always best to either leave your dog at home to avoid the crowds.  If your dog MUST go with you, plan to keep them close at hand to avoid altercations with other dogs or well-meaning treats.

4.  Sun Exposure: Beach time may not be as exciting to your dog as to you and your family.  Don’t forget the sunscreen, especially if you have a light colored dog.  Breeds that love to swim and play in the water will fare better than the non-water-loving breeds.  Make sure you have shelter available for your dog (and you).  Child-safe sunscreens may be used for those dogs with short thin coats. Avoid any products that contain zinc or salicylates.  Sunscreens can help prevent sunburn, skin cancers, and select photo-activated autoimmune disorders.  Horses with white markings are also prone to sunburn.  “Skin is Skin”- we ALL need protection!