10 Summer Pet Safety Hazards to Watch Out For

Every summer the Pet Poison Helpline is flooded with calls following pet exposure to hazardous products. While our pets enjoy being outside on warm sunny days just as much as we do, we have to take certain summer pet safety precautions to keep your pet out of harm’s way.

Summer Pet Safety Hazards

1. Pool Chemicals

Veterinary experts at Banfield Pet Hospital advise anyone with a backyard pool to store pool chemicals in a locked, secure area. Pets should never be allowed outside when pool chemical containers are open.

When diluted appropriately most chlorine shock treatment products and algaecides are safe, according to veterinary experts. However, when ingested in the undiluted form these chemicals can cause corrosive injury resulting in severe ulcers in the mouth, esophagus, stomach and intestinal tract.

2. Compost Bins

The Pet Poison Helpline  cautions that decaying organic matter and molding food products in compost piles have the potential to contain tremorgenic mycotoxins, which are toxic to both pets and wildlife.

Veterinary experts at the River Road Veterinary Clinic in Norwich, VT say that symptoms include agitation, vomiting, panting, drooling, tremors and seizures. Compost piles should always be off-limits to our pets.

3. Slug and Snail Baits

Metaldehyde—an ingredient of slug and snail baits—is poisonous to pets, primarily affecting their nervous systems. While this poisoning can be seen in both dogs and cats, it’s more common in dogs say experts at PetMD. Always store slug and snail baits out of reach of pets.

The National Pesticide Information Center advises homeowners to always check product labels for additional precautions and information on how long pets need to be kept away from pesticide application sites.

4. Mole and Gopher Baits

Most mole and gopher baits contain zinc phosphide or bromethalin mixed with other ingredients that smell tasty to pets. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, pets eat these baits, their stomach acid combines with zinc phosphide and releases phosphine gas. This gas is highly toxic to pets and has also caused illness to veterinary staff.

To ensure the safety of all animals, Poisoned Pets, a nonprofit that provides pet food safety news and information, recommends learning to live in harmony with wildlife.

5. Flea and Tick Products

According to the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC), most conventional flea and tick products are registered as pesticides and regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. That includes collars, topical treatments, sprays and dusts. Preventatives given orally, such as pills, must be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The “ugly truth” say experts at the NRDC is that many of the pesticides allowed for use on pets are linked to serious health issues in people, such as cancer and neurological and respiratory problems. Pets can also suffer—skin irritation, neurological problems, gastrointestinal disorders, and even organ failure have been reported as a result of pet poisonings due to the use of flea and tick products.

The NRDC recommends first trying a non-toxic route when it comes to controlling fleas and ticks. If you do plan on going with a chemical-based product, it’s critical to have a discussion with your veterinarian and to read labels say experts at the HSUS.

A study by the Center for Public Integrity found serious problems with pyrethroid-based spot-on flea and tick treatments for pets. Many of these products are the less-expensive treatments found at grocery stores or other retailers.

Every summer the Pet Poison Helpline is flooded with calls about pet exposure to toxic products. Take these summer pet safety precautions to keep your pet safe.

6. Summer Plants

If your pets have access to the garden, you need to consider what you are planting. Some common summer plants that are toxic to pets include:

You can find out if the plants in your garden are poisonous to pets at the Pet Poison Helpline or at the ASPCA Poison Control Center.


7. Pesticides and Insecticides

Today’s pesticides are much safer than products used 30 years ago, according to the Pet Poison Helpline. Examples of newer pesticides include fipronil, imidicloprid, sulfuramide and hydramethylnon.

However, these products are mixed with bone meal, which makes them attractive to dogs. While the bone meal doesn’t pose a significant toxicity concern, helpline experts say that it can cause gastrointestinal irritation and severe pancreatitis.

8. Fertilizers

Most fertilizers contain varying amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. In addition, they might also contain iron, copper, zinc, cobalt, boron, manganese and molybdenum. Some of these may be toxic if ingested in large concentrations.

Fertilizers may also contain herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides all of which increase the risk of poisoning. When ingested in small amounts fertilizer may cause mild stomach upset according to the Pet Poison Helpline. However, when a large amount is ingested, it can lead to severe poisoning.

9. Firecrackers

Increasingly firecrackers seem to be part and parcel of summer-long celebrations, and anxiety isn’t the only summer pet health hazard.

On and around July 4, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center experiences an increase in calls concerning pets who have ingested fireworks or are traumatized by the loud bangs. Exposure to lit fireworks can result in burns to a dog’s nose, face, lips or the inside of his mouth.

Dogs should be confined in a safe comfortable space inside the home during firework displays.

If you set off firecrackers in your yard, be sure to clean up the area thoroughly before letting your dog out. Chewing on fireworks can cause gastrointestinal tract or other problems such as bone marrow depression and kidney failure.

10. Antifreeze

Most people think of antifreeze as a winter pet toxin, but it’s also a common problem during summer months, according to Preventative Vet. The product is used as a coolant during the summer and needs to be stored safely and out of reach of pets. Any spills should be cleaned up immediately and containers kept out of reach of pets.

The ingredient in antifreeze/coolant that’s dangerous for pets is a compound called ethylene glycol. Preventative Vet recommends using a safe propylene glycol-based alternative product instead.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock


Marie W
Marie W3 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Angelflowers D
Angelflowers D7 months ago

Grotesque, thanks for the information..

Renata B
Renata B8 months ago

And if we think that wildlife - unlike our animals - are exposed to this all year round! What are we doing to our planet? In the UK the hedgehogs are at increasing risk and are becoming endangered both from habitat loss/road kill and because they eat slugs that were poisoned. Really terrible.

Sandra Vito
Sandra Vito8 months ago


Sandra Vito
Sandra Vito8 months ago


Richard A
Richard A8 months ago

Thank you for this helpful article and tips.

Fran F
Fran F8 months ago

Thanks for posting this information.

Julia S
Julia S8 months ago

Thank you!

Cindy M. Dutka
Cindy M. D8 months ago

Important information for every pet parent. Fourth of July is the worst day for my sweet boy. Extra love and cuddles goes a long way to calming him. He always has access to his "safe place" too

Anne H
Anne H8 months ago