What are the biggest hazards for dogs during summer?

Summer normally brings an increased number of cases to our out of hours clinics.  Bright sunny days mean that people and their pets are out and about enjoying the weather.  We tend to see more cat fights, dog bites, allergic reactions and occasionally cases of heat stroke.

We’ve drawn up a list of some of the main hazards to look out for.

If you’re worried your dog is sick or injured as a result of any of these, please contact your vet as soon as possible, or find your nearest Vets Now pet emergency clinic or Vets Now 24/7 hospital.


Xylitol is an artificial sweetener commonly found in sugar free chewing gum, nicotine replacement gum, sweets and as a sugar substitute in baking. If ingested by dogs it causes hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar level).  You may see vomiting, an increased heart rate, wobbliness, convulsions or coma. In severe case of hypoglycaemia fitting may result which if prolonged, can lead to permanent neurological (brain/nerve) damage.  Liver failure has also been associated with the ingestion of xylitol in dogs.  The onset of signs is often less than an hour but can be delayed for 24-48 hours after ingestion. Liver damage may also develop without the signs associated with hypoglycaemia and may occur up to 3 days after ingestion.

2. Toad toxicity

There are two species of toad native to Britain, the Common toad and the Natterjack toad. The Common toad is widespread, whilst the Natterjack toad is a protected species found in East Anglia and the North West of England. Exposure to toads occurs between June and August when they are spawning, toads being most active around dawn and dusk. Most toad-related incidents occur in the evening when cats or dogs lick or eat them.  This can lead to signs including hypersalivation (dribbling), frothing, foaming, oral pain, vomiting, wobbliness, shaking, an increase in body temperature and collapse. In severe cases convulsions can occur.  You can thoroughly rinse your dog’s mouth out (don’t let them swallow the water) then contact your vet for further advice.

3. Ant powders, baits, and gels

Ingestion of ant powders, baits or gels rarely results in significant poisoning. The active components of home use products tend to be at a low concentration and are often housed in containers e.g. ant bait stations. However, ingestion of some products causes significant problems and you should contact your vet for advice.  Signs you may see include constricted pupils, salivation, wobbliness, tremors and an increased body temperature. Severe cases may produce respiratory depression (not breathing fast enough), convulsions and coma and the duration of effects can be very prolonged.

4. Slug and snail pellets

Metaldehyde based slug pellets are among the most dangerous and common poisonings we see in dogs.  Even small amounts of pellets can cause significant poisoning and severe signs can occur within an hour of consumption.  Dogs that have eaten slug pellets need to be seen ASAP as rapid intervention can save their life.  Signs of poisoning can include; incoordination, muscle spasms, muscle rigidity, twitching, tremors, and convulsions. Intensive treatment involving heavy sedation, control of convulsions and associated life support measures is often needed.

Suggested Tweet