Protect Your Pet

How To Keep Your Four-Legged Friend Safe And Sound This Summer
Original article published in Circa Magazine July – September 2013

Beating the heat is not only important for humans, but is also critical for ensuring our four-legged companions stay happy and healthy. A combination of toasty temperatures, increased time spent outside, and water activities creates many opportunities for pet emergencies to occur during the summer months. The following tips are provided by The Humane Society of the United States for keeping your pet safe this time of year.

– Never leave your pet in the car. In nice weather, you may be tempted to take your pet with you in the car while you travel or run errands. But during the summer months, the inside of your car can reach 120o in a matter of minutes, even if you’re parked in the shade. This can mean real trouble for your furry fiend who’s left in the vehicle. To avoid any chance that your pet will succumb to the heat of a car this summer, play it safe by leaving him cool at home while you’re out and about. If you do happen to see a pet who has been left alone in a car during the hot summer months, alert the management of the store or facility where it is parked. If the owner does not return promptly, call local animal control or the police department immediately.

– Don’t put your pet in the back of a truck. It is very dangerous, and in some states illegal, to drive with an unsecured dog in the back of a truck. Not only can flying debris cause serious injury, but a dog may be unintentionally thrown into traffic if the driver suddenly hits the brakes, swerves, or is hit by another car. Dogs should ride either in the cab (in a crate or wearing a seat belt harness designed for dogs) or in a secured crate in the bed of the truck.

– Watch out for fertilizers and deadly plants. Summer is often when people fertilize their lawns and work in their gardens. But beware – plant food, fertilizer, and insecticides can be fatal if your pet ingests them. In addition, more than 700 plants can produce physiologically active or toxic substances in sufficient amounts, causing harmful effects in animals.

– Stay bite-free. With people and dogs spending more time outside, dog bites are likely to increase during the summer months. Spaying or neutering your dog reduces the likelihood that he will bite a person or another animal and provides many other health benefits to him.

– Pet care 101. Make sure your pet is always wearing a collar and identification tag. If you are separated from your pet, an ID tag may very well be his or her ticket home. Check with your veterinarian to see if your pet should be taking heartworm prevention medication. Heartworm disease, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, can be fatal in both dogs and cats. Additional summertime threats are fleas and ticks. Use only flea and tick treatments recommended by your veterinarian – some over-the-counter flea and tick products can be toxic, even when used according to their instructions.

– Water wisdom. Pets and pools can equal disaster. Prevent free access to pools and always supervise a pet around water. Provide plenty of drinking water and shade for your pets while they’re enjoying the great outdoors so they can stay cool and hydrated.

– Lastly, order a Dog First Aid Manual or Cat First Aid Manual from the American Red Cross ( These manuals will help you to recognize a pet emergency, perform CPR and first aid, treat common problems and emergencies, and stock a first-aid kit for your furry friend. The manuals come with a 30-minute DVD that features step-by-step instructions on safety procedures, disaster preparedness, and dealing with medical emergencies. Please note though that these manuals are not substitutes for receiving medical assistance for your pet, but will be of great assistance in helping to assess and treat injuries in the proper manner.