Valentine's Day can be as much fun for pets as it is for humans if dangerous foods, flora and other items are kept out of paws' reach. Each year our poison control experts see a rise in cases around February 14, many involving chocolate and lilies, a flower that's potentially fatal to cats. So please heed our experts' advice-don't leave the goodies lying around on Lover's Day.
Pet-Safe Bouquets
Many pet owners are still unaware that all species of lily are potentially fatal to cats. When sending a floral arrangement, specify that it contain no lilies if the recipient has a cat-and when receiving an arrangement, sift through and remove all dangerous flora. If your pet is suffering from symptoms such as stomach upset, vomiting or diarrhea, he may have ingested an offending flower or plant. Use our online toxic and nontoxic plant libraries as visual guides of what and what not should be in your bouquets.

Forbidden Chocolate
Seasoned pet lovers know the potentially life-threatening dangers of chocolate, including baker's, semi sweet, milk and dark. In darker chocolates, methylxanthines-caffeine-like stimulants that affect gastrointestinal, neurologic and cardiac function-can cause vomiting/diarrhea, hyperactivity, seizures and an abnormally elevated heart rate. The high-fat content in lighter chocolates can potentially lead to a life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas. Go ahead and indulge, but don't leave chocolate out for chowhounds to find.

Careful with Cocktails
Spilled wine, half a glass of champagne, some leftover liquor are nothing to cry over until a curious pet laps them up. Because animals are smaller than humans, a little bit of alcohol can do a lot of harm, causing vomiting, diarrhea, lack of coordination, central nervous system depression, tremors, difficulty breathing, metabolic disturbances and even coma. Potentially fatal respiratory failure can also occur if a large enough amount is ingested.

Life Is Sweet
So don't let pets near treats sweetened with xylitol. If ingested, gum, candy and other treats that include this sweetener can result in a sudden drop in blood sugar known as hypoglycemia. This can cause your pet to suffer depression, loss of coordination and seizures.

Every Rose Has Its Thorn
Don't let pets near roses or other thorny stemmed flowers. Biting, stepping on or swallowing their sharp, woody spines can cause serious infection if a puncture occurs. "It's all too easy for pets to step on thorns that fall to the ground as a flower arrangement is being created," says Dr. Louise Murray, Director of Medicine for the ASPCA's Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital. De-thorn your roses far away from pets.

Playing with Fire
It's nice to set your evening a-glow with candlelight, but put out the fire when you leave the room. Pawing kittens and nosy pooches can burn themselves or cause a fire by knocking over unattended candles.

Wrap it Up
Gather up tape, ribbons, bows, wrapping paper, cellophane and balloons after presents have been opened-if swallowed, these long, stringy and "fun-to-chew" items can get lodged in your pet's throat or digestive tract, causing her to choke or vomit.

The Furry Gift of Life?
Giving a cuddly puppy or kitten may seem a fitting Valentine's Day gift-however, returning a pet you hadn't planned on is anything but romantic. Companion animals bring with them a lifelong commitment, and choosing a pet for someone else doesn't always turn out right. Those living in the Manhattan area can let their loved one choose their own cat with a gift certificate to adopt from the ASPCA. If you're not from New York, check your local animal care facility or take a romantic trip to the shelter together.


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SEASONAL SAFETY TIPS
(For more safety tips, please click here)

COLD WEATHER SAFETY TIPS

Brr!  It's cold outside! 

The SPCA for Monterey County advises pet owners that cold and freezing temperatures can be deadly for pets and livestock.  Pets that normally live outdoors during mild weather conditions need extra protection from freezing temperatures.  The SPCA recommends bringing all pets into the home or a warm, heated garage during the upcoming cold snap. 

What You Should Know

  • Prolonged exposure to extreme cold and freezing temperatures can lead to life threatening hypothermia (severe lowering of the normal body temperature), especially for smaller dogs, cats, dogs with short hair, and all animals who are acclimated to our typically warmer climate. 

  • Ensure that outdoor water sources for pets and livestock are checked frequently as they can freeze over and prevent access to water.

  • If unable to be inside, dogs habituated to the outdoors must be protected by a dry, draft-free doghouse that is large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down comfortably, but small enough to hold in his body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground.  Provide extra dry blankets and towels and turn the house away from the wind, covering the doorway with a flap of heavy waterproof fabric or plastic.  Since most animals in our area are not acclimated to extremely cold weather, The SPCA advises bringing them inside if at all possible.

  • Dogs and cats not habituated to the outdoors need to be brought inside to ensure their safety. 

  • Do not leave indoor/outdoor housecats outside overnight.  They are not acclimated to the weather conditions and can suffer hypothermia or become lost, stolen, or injured. 

  • During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.

  • Do not leave your pet alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold.

  • Pets found suffering from the effects of severe cold weather should be taken immediately to a veterinarian.  During transport, the animal should be wrapped in warm, dry towels and blankets. 

  • If you see an animal left outside in the cold, please contact The SPCA's Humane Investigations Department at 373-2631 or 422-4721 x213.  We can help educate the owners on how to properly care for their pets during the cold winter nights.  All calls are confidential.

 


SEASONAL SAFETY TIPS

Cold Weather Safety Tips

Disaster Preparedness for Pets and Livestock

Holiday Hazards: Keeping Your Pet Safe During the Holiday Season PDF

Protect Your Pet from Hot Weather PDF

Hot Weather Safety Tips

Fourth of July Safety Tips

Keep Your Pet Safe on the Fourth of July PDF

Halloween: How Keep Your Pet Safe PDF

Holiday Hazards: Keeping Your Pet Safe During the Holiday Season PDF

Stuffed Toys Make the Best Easter Pets PDF

How to Select a Skilled Pet Sitter

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Holiday Safety Tips

Holly, Jolly and Oh-So-Safe! Of course you want to include your furry companions in the festivities, pet parents, but as you celebrate this holiday season, try to keep your pet's eating and exercise habits as close to their normal routine as possible. And be sure to steer them clear of the following unhealthy treats, toxic plants and dangerous decorations:

O Christmas Tree
Securely anchor your Christmas tree so it doesn't tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pet. This will also prevent the tree water-which may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset-from spilling. Stagnant tree water is a breeding ground for bacteria and your pet could end up with nausea or diarrhea should he imbibe.

Tinsel-less Town
Kitties love this sparkly, light-catching "toy" that's easy to bat around and carry in their mouths. But a nibble can lead to a swallow, which can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. It's best to brighten your boughs with something other than tinsel.

No Feasting for the Furries
By now you know not to feed your pets chocolate and anything sweetened with xylitol, but do you know the lengths to which an enterprising fur kid will go to chomp on something yummy? Make sure to keep your pets away from the table and unattended plates of food, and be sure to secure the lids on garbage cans.

Toy Joy
Looking to stuff your pet's stockings? Choose gifts that are safe.


•Dogs have been known to tear their toys apart and swallowing the pieces, which can then become lodged in the esophagus, stomach or intestines. Stick with chew toys that are basically indestructible, Kongs that can be stuffed with healthy foods or chew treats that are designed to be safely digestible.

•Long, stringy things are a feline's dream, but the most risky toys for cats involve ribbon, yarn and loose little parts that can get stuck in the intestines, often necessitating surgery. Surprise kitty with a new ball that's too big to swallow, a stuffed catnip toy or the interactive cat dancer-and tons of play sessions together.
Forget the Mistletoe & Holly
Holly, when ingested, can cause pets to suffer nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset and cardiovascular problems. And many varieties of lilies, can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. Opt for just-as-jolly artificial plants made from silk or plastic, or choose a pet-safe bouquet.

Leave the Leftovers
Fatty, spicy and no-no human foods, as well as bones, should not be fed to your furry friends. Pets can join the festivities in other fun ways that won't lead to costly medical bills.

That Holiday Glow
Don't leave lighted candles unattended. Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over. Be sure to use appropriate candle holders, placed on a stable surface. And if you leave the room, put the candle out!

Wired Up
Keep wires, batteries and glass or plastic ornaments out of paws' reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus, while shards of breakable ornaments can damage your pet's mouth.

House Rules
If your animal-loving guests would like to give your pets a little extra attention and exercise while you're busy tending to the party, ask them to feel free to start a nice play or petting session.

Put the Meds Away
Make sure all of your medications are locked behind secure doors, and be sure to tell your guests to keep their meds zipped up and packed away, too.

Careful with Cocktails
If your celebration includes adult holiday beverages, be sure to place your unattended alcoholic drinks where pets cannot get to them. If ingested, your pet could become weak, ill and may even go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.

A Room of Their Own
Give your pet his own quiet space to retreat to-complete with fresh water and a place to snuggle. Shy pups and cats might want to hide out under a piece of furniture, in their carrying case or in a separate room away from the hubbub.

New Year's Noise
As you count down to the new year, please keep in mind that strings of thrown confetti can get lodged in a cat's intestines, if ingested, perhaps necessitating surgery. Noisy poppers can terrify pets and cause possible damage to sensitive ears.

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Thanksgiving Safety Tips

‘Tis the season for friends, family and holiday feasts—but also for possible distress for our animal companions. Pets won’t be so thankful if they munch on undercooked turkey or a pet-unfriendly floral arrangement, or if they stumble upon an unattended alcoholic drink.

Check out the following tips from ASPCA experts for a fulfilling Thanksgiving that your pets can enjoy, too.

Talkin’ Turkey
If you decide to feed your pet a little nibble of turkey, make sure it’s boneless and well-cooked. Don't offer her raw or undercooked turkey, which may contain salmonella bacteria.

Sage Advice
Sage can make your Thanksgiving stuffing taste delish, but it and many other herbs contain essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression to pets if eaten in large quantities. Cats are especially sensitive to the effects of certain essential oils.

No Bread Dough
Don't spoil your pet’s holiday by giving him raw bread dough. According to ASPCA experts, when raw bread dough is ingested, an animal's body heat causes the dough to rise in his stomach. As it expands, the pet may experience vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating, which could become a life-threatening emergency, requiring surgery.

Don't Let Them Eat Cake
If you’re baking up Thanksgiving cakes, be sure your pets keep their noses out of the batter, especially if it includes raw eggs—they could contain salmonella bacteria that may lead to food poisoning.

Too Much of a Good Thing
A few small boneless pieces of cooked turkey, a taste of mashed potato or even a lick of pumpkin pie shouldn’t pose a problem. However, don't allow your pets to overindulge, as they could wind up with a case of stomach upset, diarrhea or even worse—an inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. In fact, it’s best keep pets on their regular diets during the holidays.

A Feast Fit for a Kong
While the humans are chowing down, give your cat and dog their own little feast. Offer them rawhide strips, Nylabones or made-for-pet chew bones. Or stuff their usual dinner—perhaps with a few added tidbits of turkey, vegetables (try sweet potato or green beans) and dribbles of gravy—inside a Kong toy. They’ll be happily occupied for awhile, working hard to extract their dinner from the toy.

Halloween Safety Tips

No Scaredy Cats This Halloween: Top 10 Safety Tips for Pet Parents

Attention, companion animal caretakers! The ASPCA would like to point out these common-sense cautions that'll help keep your pets safe and stress-free this time of year. If you do suspect your pet has ingested a potentially dangerous substance, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

1. No tricks, no treats: That bowlful of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Fluffy.

•Chocolate in all forms-especially dark or baking chocolate-can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Symptoms of significant chocolate ingestion may include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, increased thirst, urination and heart rate-and even seizures.


•Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can be poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol sweetener can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar, which leads to depression, lack of coordination and seizures. In cases of significantly low blood sugar, liver failure has been known to occur.


•Ingesting tin foil and cellophane candy wrappers can pose a choking hazard or cause intestinal blockage.
2. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, yet they can produce gastrointestinal upset should pets ingest them. Intestinal blockage could even occur if large pieces are swallowed.

3. Keep wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet could experience damage to his mouth from shards of glass or plastic, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.

4. A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise extreme caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.

5. Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets. Please don't put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams!). For pets who prefer their "birthday suits," however, wearing a costume can cause undue stress.

6. If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn't annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal's movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Also try on costumes before the big night. If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting him go au naturel or donning a festive bandana.

7. Take a closer look at your pet's costume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.

8. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treat visiting hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets.

9. When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn't dart outside.

10. IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and become lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can increase the chances that he or she will be returned to you

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Sugar-Free Gum and Snacks Can be Deadly for Pets
by Kirsten Taylor (Subscribe to Kirsten Taylor's posts)
Sep 8th 2009 11:00AM

Categories: Pet Health

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Soap bubbles: Good. Bubblegum: Bad! Photo: Tim PopUp/Flickr

Most pet owners know that chocolate is a big no-no for dogs. But here's something to chew on: a common ingredient in sugarless gum and snacks can cause a canine catastrophe.

The culprit is a sweetener called xylitol. While you may never have heard of it, there's a good chance you have it in your house. Xylitol is common in sugarless gum and in sugar-free snacks, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Cases of xylitol poisoning in dogs have increased in recent years as the sweetener has been added to lots of new foods, Sharon Gwaltney-Brant, vice president of the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center, told Paw Nation. "There definitely has been an increase in the exposures of dogs to xylitol over the last several years, simply because there's more xylitol out there."

The chemical is completely safe for humans and most other animals, but in dogs, xylitol causes blood sugar levels to plummet. When blood sugar drops, Gwaltney-Brant says, "the brain isn't getting enough energy to do its job." After swallowing xylitol, dogs may vomit and become lethargic and disoriented. "If blood sugar drops low enough, they can have seizures," Gwaltney-Brant says. Without treatment, dogs can die.

That's not all. Dogs that eat a lot of xylitol can also suffer from liver damage. Researchers aren't sure what causes the liver problems, Gwaltney-Brant says, but the results can be grave.

A little xylitol goes a long way. Just two sticks of sugarless gum can be fatal for a 20-pound dog, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune, and a single sugar-free pudding cup can spell trouble for a 90-pound pooch. But those numbers can be misleading, Gwaltney-Brant cautions. Some brands of gum or candy contain no xylitol, while others contain relatively large amounts. Even within a single brand, the level of xylitol can vary from flavor to flavor and batch to batch, she says.

If you know or suspect your dog has gotten into foods that might contain xylitol, take him to the vet immediately, Gwaltney-Brant says. Problems from blood sugar levels dropping can occur quickly -- "often within 30 minutes to an hour," she notes. Vets can monitor blood sugar levels and start treatment to get blood sugar back up to safe levels.

If you're a fan of sugar-free products, check the labels to see whether they contain xylitol. And it should go without saying that you should do your best to keep Fido away from your gum. He can't blow bubbles anyway.

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Check out the lifesaving features you will find at MyDogIsCool.com:
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Keep a stack of our "It's Hot" fliers (pictured above) in your glove compartment. Then, when you see a dog in a parked car, you can slip one under the windshield wiper to educate pet owners about the dangers of leaving dogs in hot cars. Available from the UAN Store for just $3 for a 25-pack. 
  
 
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Download and print our "Hot Temperature Warning Sign" poster or the powerful "A Hot Oven or a Hot Car" poster (pictured), then ask business owners to display one in the window to remind customers to think twice before leaving their canine companions in the car while they shop.
  
 
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There’s nothing better than gathering with friends and family for the holidays; eating, drinking, and putting up festive decorations.  While enjoying this time of year, it is important to remember the potential hazards that certain goodies and décor can pose to our furry, feathered or scaly companions.  To keep pets happy and healthy during the holiday season, The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is offering pet owners the following helpful hints:

- Holiday sweets with chocolate are not for pets. Depending on the dose ingested, chocolate (bakers, semi sweet, milk and dark) can be potentially poisonous to many animals. In general, the less sweet the chocolate, the more toxic it could be.  In fact, unsweetened baking chocolate contains almost seven times more theobromine (a substance similar to caffeine) as milk chocolate. Vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, hyperactivity and increased thirst, urination and heart rate can be seen with the ingestion of as little as 1/4 ounce of baking chocolate by a 10-pound dog.

- Keep your pet on its normal diet.  Any change of diet, even for one meal, may give your dog or cat severe indigestion and diarrhea.  This is particularly true for older animals that have more delicate digestive systems and nutritional requirements.

- Candies and gum containing large amounts of the sweetener xylitol can also be toxic to pets, as ingestions of significant quantities can produce a fairly sudden drop in blood sugar, resulting in depression, uncoordination and seizures.  Be sure to keep such products well out of the reach of your pets.

- Don’t give pets holiday leftovers, and keep pets out of the garbage. Poultry bones can splinter and cause blockages. Greasy, spicy and fatty foods can cause stomach upset; spoiled or moldy foods could cause food poisoning, tremors or seizures.

- Alcohol and pets do NOT mix.  Place unattended alcoholic drinks where pets cannot reach them.  If ingested, the animal could become very sick and weak and may go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.

- Keep aluminum foil and cellophane candy wrappers away from pets.  They can cause vomiting and intestinal blockage. 

- Be careful with holiday floral arrangements. Lilies are commonly used this time of year and all varieties, including Tiger, Asian, Japanese Show, Stargazer and Casa Blanca can cause kidney failure in cats. Safe alternatives can include artificial flowers made from silk or plastic.

- Common Yuletide plants such as mistletoe and holly berries can be potentially toxic to pets. Should a cat or dog eat mistletoe, they could possibly suffer gastrointestinal upsets and cardiovascular problems.  Holly can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and lethargy if ingested. 

- Poinsettias are considered to be very low in toxicity.  However, they could cause mild vomiting or nausea if ingested by your pet.

- Keep pets away from Christmas tree water.  The water may contain fertilizers which, if ingested, can cause a stomach upset.  Stagnant tree water can also act as a breeding ground for bacteria and if ingested a pet could end up with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

- Consider decorating your tree with ornaments that are relatively less enticing to pets, such as dried non-toxic flowers, wood, fabric or pinecones. Traditional decorations such as ribbons or tinsel, if ingested, can become lodged in the intestines and cause intestinal obstruction. This is a very common problem, particularly with cats.

Summer Safety Guide for Pets
General Pet First Aid Tips
Heat Stroke
How to Protect Your Pet on Hot Days
More Pet Summer Safety Tips
Parasite Prevention
Riding in Cars With Pets
Summer Travel with Your Pet

In the summer, many people like to share their summer fun with their pets, bringing them along to the park, the mall and the beach. But many owners don't realize that pets are extremely susceptible to overheating and much less efficient at cooling themselves than are people.

Owners may not realize that Fido or Fluffy has become overheated, thirsty, or frightened of crowds. A good general rule is that if it's too hot outside for you, it's too hot outside for your pet.

The following guidelines will help you keep your four-legged friends safe and sound during the summer months.

General Pet First Aid Tips

Your pet is part of your family. And just like any other member of the family, pets can become ill or injured. Would you know how to care for your pet in an emergency? Here are a few tips: 

  • Pay attention to what is normal for your pet so you can detect signals when something is wrong.
  • Approach a sick or injured animal slowly and cautiously.
  • Watch the body expressions and sounds your pet makes to warn you. Even your own pet can be aggressive when in pain or frightened.
  • Do not make quick, jerky, or loud movements. They might further scare your pet.
  • Use towels or blankets to cover the eyes to calm or subdue cats or small dogs when necessary.
  • Keep the phone number and address of your veterinarian in a convenient location.
  • Have the phone number and address of an after-hours veterinary clinic on hand and keep directions to that clinic in the same place. Whenever possible, call ahead to let them know you'll be coming.
Heat Stroke

Heat stroke can be fatal for pets as well as people. Every summer, animals left in parked cars suffer brain damage and die from heatstroke. Dogs perspire only around their paws, which is inadequate to cool them down on hot days. To rid themselves of excess heat, animals pant. Nevertheless, an overheated dog can suffer brain and organ damage after only 15 minutes. On steamy summer days, pets should stay cool and out of the sun.

Signs of heat stroke in dogs:

  • Body temperature of 104-110 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Heavy panting, rapid heartbeat and glazed eyes
  • Dark or bright red tongue and gums
  • Excessive thirst and/or profuse salivation
  • Lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination
  • Staggering, stupor and/or seizures
  • Bloody diarrhea or vomiting
  • Unconsciousness

If your dog shows symptoms of heatstroke, immediately take steps to gradually lower its body temperature, then call your vet. Following the tips below could save your dog's life:

  • Move the animal into the shade or an air-conditioned area.
  • Apply ice packs or cold towels to your pet"s head, neck and chest or immerse her in cool—but not cold—water. (Very cold water will constrict the blood vessels and impede cooling.) 
  • Let your pet drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes.
  • Take your pet directly to a veterinarian. Even if the animal is cooler and seems to have recovered, DON’T assume that your pet is okay. Internal organs—the liver, kidneys, brain and more—are affected by heatstroke. Your vet must asses your pet’s condition to make sure that everything is alright.  

Pets that are especially susceptible to heat:

  • Elderly, very young, and ill animals (dogs and cats) have a harder time regulating their body temperature.
  • Dogs with snub noses (also called short-nosed breeds) such as Pekingese, pugs, and bulldogs, have a hard time staying cool because they can't pant efficiently. They must stay out of the heat.
  • Overweight dogs are prone to overheating. Their extra layers of fat act as insulation that traps heat within their bodies. 
  • Large heavy-coated dog breeds.
  • Dogs with heart or respiratory problems.
How to Protect Your Pet on Hot Days

  • Monitor your pet closely whenever he or she is outside during the summer months.
  • Provide plenty of water and shade for your pets while they are outdoors so they can stay cool.
  • Don't leave your pet outside unattended on a hot day, even in the shade. Shade can move throughout the day, and pets can overheat and become ill quickly
  • Never leave a pet unattended in a parked car, even for "just a minute.” An 85° F day can skyrocket a car"s interior to deadly levels—120-130° F—in minutes, even with the windows slightly open or when parked in the shade. The mild days of spring and fall can also pose great danger.
  • Limit exercise to early morning or evening hours. Remember that asphalt can become scorching and burn your pet's paws.
  • Hose down your dog before work, at lunch or whenever you can to provide extra cooling on a hot day.
  • Keep your pet well groomed and clipped. If your dog has very thick hair, its fur may trap too much heat. Clipping it in summer will help keep your pet cool.
  • Use sunscreen on your dog’s nose and ears if necessary. Dogs with light-colored noses or fur are especially vulnerable to sunburn and skin cancer. 
  • Keep your pet away from crowded summer events like concerts, fairs and fireworks. Loud noises and crowds combined with the heat and humidity can be stressful and dangerous.
More Pet Summer Safety Tips

  • Keep your pet leashed while outdoors. That will be easier to keep your pet from getting lost, fighting with other animals, and eating and drinking things that could make it sick.
  • Keep your cat indoors. Cats that are allowed outdoors unattended face a high risk for disease and injury from vehicles and other animals. The estimated life span of a free-roaming cat is less than three years, compared with 15 to 18 years for an indoor cat.
  • Prevent access to pools. Your pet could drink the chemical-rich pool water. Also, many pets can't swim, and those who can swim may be unable to get out of a high-sided pool. If you must have your pet near a pool, supervise that animal closely.
  • Outfit your dog with a life preserver if you go on a boat.  If your pet is knocked off the boat, a life jacket could save its life.
  • Keep your pet away from lawns and gardens that have been fertilized. Some plant food, fertilizer and insecticides can be fatal if ingested by your pet. Also, hundreds of plants produce toxic substances in amounts that can harm animals.
  • Make sure your pet always wears a collar and ID tag.
  • Spay or neuter your dog or cat. Spaying and neutering provides many health benefits.
Parasite Prevention

  • Choose flea and tick control products recommended by your vet. Some over-the-counter products can be toxic, even when used according to the instructions.
  • Check with your vet to see if your pets should be taking heartworm prevention medication. Heartworm disease, which is transmitted by a bite from an infected mosquito, can be fatal if not treated. Both dogs and cats are at increased risk of contracting heartworm during the summer.
  • Keep the grass cut short to reduce the chances of ear mite and tick infestations. Ear mites and ticks are more common in summer.
  • Check your pet for ticks often.
  • Remove the fecal matter from the yard as soon as possible. The feces will attract flies which will bite your pet, usually in the ears.
Riding in Cars With Pets

  • Never leave a pet unattended in a parked car, even with the windows slightly open or when parked in the shade. Remember, the temperature inside a car, even with the windows open a bit, will climb to 102 degrees in as little as 10 minutes.
  • Alert the management of the shopping area if you see an animal in a parked car in the summer. If the owner does not return promptly, call local animal control or the police. Time is critical. Dogs and cats can't perspire—they can dispel heat only by panting and through the pads of their feet.
  • Never allow dogs to ride with their heads out a car window since injury could occur from flying debris. Animals should be kept in the car in a crate or wearing a specially designed seatbelt harness for dogs.
  • Always have dogs ride in the cab of a pick-up truck (in a crate or wearing a seat belt harness designed for dogs) or in a secured crate in the bed of the truck, not in the truck's open bed. (In some states, this is illegal.) If your dog rides in the back of the truck and you stop short, swerve, or are hit by another car, it could be thrown from the truck and into traffic. Flying debris can also cause serious injury.
Summer Travel with Your Pet

  • Check out veterinary clinics/hospitals in any area you travel to with a pet. This will save valuable time in an emergency situation.
  • Do not schedule air flights during peak periods, which are often plagued by delays and stopovers. Choose early-morning or evening flights, when the sun is less strong, and pick up your pet promptly upon arrival at your destination.
  • Realize that many airlines have summer pet embargoes, and most trains and ships do not allow pets other than service animals.

Flea Medications Injure 44,000 Pets

Categories: Dogs, Cats, Pet Health

dog scratches fleasAccording to a new (scary) report from the Environmental Protection Agency, topical and on-spot flea and tick medications injured 44,000 pets last year.

The study looked at EPA-registered pet products, commonly found at drug stores or on supermarket shelves in 2008. Sprays, collars, and shampoos – anything topical or on-spot to treat ticks and fleas - were included.

Most of the potential incident reports involved spot-on treatments, like the ones sold in tubes or vials and used on a specific part of your pet's body. Reactions included rashes, seizures, and, in some cases, death.

To play it safe, you may want to skip the grocery aisle for your flea and tick products. "Stick with a product you're getting from a veterinarian," advises
Dr. Matthew Cooper. Side effects caused by over-the-counter medications don't come as a surprise to veterinarians, who often urge pet owners to stick with doctor-recommended products.

To see if you've been using one of the EPA-products in question,
look at the EPA Registration Number on the label and check its web site. The seven products, which pet owners can identify using the label, accounted for about 80 percent of the incidents, the agency said.The EPA is now boosting scrutiny of on-spot flea and tick treatments. In the meantime, here are some of their safety tips:

- Carefully read and follow the product label
- Use flea and tick control products only on the animal specified ─ for example, dog products for dogs only
- Only apply the amount indicated for the size of the animal being treated
- Pay attention to the age restrictions
- Monitor your pet for side effects
- If your pet has an adverse reaction call your vet immediately

For more information check with the
National Pesticide Information Center.