Summer safety tips to keep your pets safe this summer

The Dog Days are here, AKA the hottest days of the year. Make sure to keep an eye out for these summer hazards and protect your pet this summer.

10th July 2018

Summer is full of both excitement and dangers for our pets. Here is the Animal Friends guide to some of the dangers to look out for this summer to ensure your pet stays safe.

These include:

Grass seeds

We analysed our most recent data and revealed that during 2019 the average cost of having foreign bodies like grass seeds removed from dog’s paws, skins and noses was £905.98. Foxtail grass seeds are a risk to dogs as they can easily become embedded in the fur or the flesh of animals with longer coats. We can also reveal that the most common places for grass seeds to embed was in the dogs’ paws and ears.

Our recommendations to help keep your dog safe are:

When walking your dog, try to avoid long grass and choose a route with grass that’s been cut.

Trimming excessive hair around your pet’s ears, paws and armpits is extremely beneficial when it comes to preventing grass seeds from taking a hold on your dog’s fur. However, it’s essential to not cut the end off of any grass seeds in the process, as this can make them very difficult to remove.


Hotspots (also known as summer sores or moist dermatitis) seem to appear from nowhere on your pet’s skin and can cause a lot of discomfort for your dog who is more prone to developing them. They can have a variety of causes (for e.g. ticks) but the most common one is bacteria. If you see them on your dog (they commonly look quite raw and weeping) please seek the advice of a vet. They usually respond well to a course of antibiotics.

In 2019 Animal Friends customers spent £324.31 for each claim for hotspot treatment.


Summer means increased walking outdoors for many people but with that comes the risk of ticks attaching themselves to your dog’s skin. Ticks are not simply annoyances that attach to your dog and cause him to itch and be uncomfortable. They can also carry some very nasty diseases that may have long-term effects on your dog’s health.

Ticks may come to an owner’s attention from causing itchiness on the dog’s skin or becoming so bloated after feeding that they become visible to owners on the dog’s skin. According to our data, the average cost to treat a tick infestation in 2019 was £387.01.

Diseases they can carry include Lyme disease and encephalitis which cost owners an average of £2,223.28 to treat in 2019, a very large cost for owners to bear while tick paralysis cost our customers around £1,258.64.

Tick infections can also cause gastrointestinal problems and anaemia. Babesiosis is another disease that is carried and passed on through ticks and while it has been here for a few years now, is believed to have using the ‘pet passports’ scheme.

Guard against ticks

To make sure your pet is tick-free, conduct a thorough body check of your dog. While these ticks are visible to the naked eye, they like living in dark, hidden areas of the animal, such as ears, groin and between the toes.

Signs that your dog is suffering from ticks include excessive scratching or licking in one particular area.

Pet owners must be careful when removing ticks, and we suggest the safest way to do this would be to use tweezers to it straight out of the animal’s skin. Do not twist the tick, burn the tick or apply anything else to the skin as this could cause further damage to your pet.

With the risk of so many tick-borne diseases, you can place the removed tick into a dated ziplock bag in the freezer. This way, if your pet shows any signs of illness, you could give the tick to the vet and they will be able to analyse it.

Some dog owners are already well aware that ticks and other parasites can spread infections like Lyme’s disease, but Babesiosis is an especially aggressive and dangerous illness.

Melanomas (skin cancers)

Many owners assume that fur protects their pets from skin complications, including cancers (melanoma) however this is not always the case especially for animals with lighter fur and exposed skin.

It is increasingly important for owners to know and recognise the dangers of excessive sun exposure on their pets as Animal Friends data shows a massive vet bill of £1,185.34 on average to treat the condition in our customers’ dogs in 2019.

How can I help protect my dog against developing melanomas?

There are a few factors that determine whether your pet will need extra protection from the sun.

  • Light coloured fur
  • Short or fine fur
  • Exposed skin (such as on the belly or around the muzzle)

If your pet has dark, thick fur, they will be much more protected. However, you should still pay close attention to how much time they are exposed to the sun each day.

Top tips to help keep your dog stay safe in the hot sun

  • Limit the amount of time spend in the sun, especially during the peak of the day.
  • Use special pet sun cream on light or thin fur, the nose, ears or other exposed patches.
  • Give them plenty of cool, clean water, refreshed regularly.
  • Clip long-haired pets to prevent them from overheating.
  • Never leave animals locked in cars, even for a few minutes.
  • Avoid walking dogs between 8am and 5pm on hot summer days to avoid the main heat of the day.
  • Consult a vet immediately if you notice ulcers, sores or sudden discolouration on your pet’s skin.

Paw burns

Don’t forget also that in times of unusual and excessive heat (as we are experiencing now) the soft pads of dogs’ paws can burn on concrete. In 2017 the average cost for treatment for dog burns was £617.77.

Prevent such injuries from happening to your dog by taking preventative measures such as:

  • Walk your dog when it’s cool
  • Walk them on grass if you happen to be out when it’s very hot
  • Moisturise their paws
  • Check and clean your dog’s paws regularly

Hayfever-like symptoms

Pets can develop pollen allergies. In dogs, it manifests generally in itchy skin and painful ears, often chewing their feet until; they are red and raw.

According to Animal Friends data (2019) the top three dog breeds to present with allergies like hayfever were:

  • French Bulldog
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

According to Animal Friends’ data, the average claim for dogs with hayfever comes to £235, but as it’s an ongoing condition it does have repeated claims, depending on the treatment.

How can I help my pet who suffers from hayfever?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for hayfever but there are some things you can do to make life easier for pets who suffer.

  • Visit your vet to ensure that your pet has the correct diagnosis and treatment
  • Give your dog a bath in cool water
  • Do not keep flowers and plants in the house,
  • Keep your pet out of the way when you cut the lawn
  • Clip your dog’s coat if he has long hair
  • Restrict your pet’s time outdoors when pollen counts are high
  • Run the air conditioner overnight to filter pollen out of your home environment
  • Wash your pet’s bedding weekly with hot water and make sure you dry them completely

Oak processionary moth (OPM) caterpillars

If you have an oak tree in your garden or maybe at your favourite dog walking spot, you need to be aware of oak processionary moth (OPM) caterpillars. These caterpillars often cluster together and build white, silk-like nests in the branches or trunks of oak trees and they’re dangerous.

The hairs on oak processionary moths caterpillars contain an irritating substance called thaumetopoein, which means they’re a risk to humans and their pets! Each caterpillar has about 62,000 hairs, which they can eject when they feel threatened.

While the hairs can be carried in the wind, it’s important to keep your pet away from the base of an oak tree to avoid getting the hairs in their nose, mouth or paws.

If your dog or cat has come into contact with an OPM caterpillar or their nest while out and about, you might notice the following symptoms:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Swollen tongue
  • An inflamed or swollen mouth, throat or stomach
  • Difficulty breathing or gagging
  • Vomiting
  • Scratching their muzzle

If your pet is suffering with any of the above symptoms, call your vet for advice.

Do not try to remove the cluster of caterpillars yourself, always report the sighting of a nest or caterpillar to the Forestry Commission.

By taking some precautions you can enjoy the warm (sometimes!) weather safely with your dog. If your pet starts showing any symptoms or is acting a little out of character, Joii Pet Care can offer online video calls with vets and provide professional care from the comfort of your own home. 

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Animal Friends Insurance is a multi-award winning FCA-regulated pet insurer, founded in 1998 to provide industry-leading pet insurance and first-class animal care to create a better life for every animal.
As one of the UK’s largest pet insurance providers, Animal Friends works with vets, veterinary professionals, and partners pioneering the latest veterinary technology & healthcare advancements to achieve our vision.
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