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June 2012

Summer Safety Tips

Summer should be a fun time for all, but according to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) preventable accidents are the number one cause of death of pre-senior dogs and cats. The approaching summer will present its’ own set of challenges.


1. Start with a hot, unattended grill.

2. Mix in meat of your choice.

3. Add the family dog.

Grills are very hot! Furthermore, cooked bones are not an appropriate treat. They can splinter causing intestinal damage as well as present a choking hazard. Likewise, corncobs cause the same problems. You should be aware of the seasoning used on the leftovers you give your pets. For example, onion is poisonous.


Shells can cut and hot sand may burn pads. Provide fresh drinking water because salt water as well as discarded food will cause gastro-intestinal distress or worse!


More injuries and fatalities occur in the interior rather than the exterior of the vehicle. We have all seen what a pebble can do to a windshield. Imagine the damage that pebble could do the soft corneal tissue of an eye. Keep your pets’ head in the car. A kicked up object travels at twice the speed of the vehicle. Pet restraints are widely available. In the event of an accident, an unrestrained pet can face or cause serious injuries. Airbags deploy at more than 200mph. A pet in the front seat risks having its’ tongue amputated by a deployed airbag. They can bleed out in 20 minutes. EMS protocol is “people over pets”. They are equipped and have the option to put down your pet if your pet will not allow access to you. Do not put EMS in a position to make a decision regarding your pet. Cats should always be in carriers to prevent unauthorized escapes.

PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PET UNATTENDED IN YOUR CAR FOR ANY REASON. It doesn’t matter if you leave the A/C on, as it is a mechanical device. Mechanical devices are subject to breakdown. The interior temperature of a car in 78 degrees can reach 150 degrees in 15 minutes. It doesn’t matter if it is parked in the shade, the color of the car or if the windows are open or closed. It doesn’t matter because those factors are not influenced by the suns’ shortwave radiation. Rather, the interior components of the vehicle such as seats and dashboard are heated. They give off the long-wave radiation that heats the interior of the car. This could result in heatstroke. In turn, this could result in your pets’ death. I covered this topic in greater detail here.


Pool chemicals are caustic and can cause burns; make sure to store them properly. In addition, pets need an easy exit from the pool or onto a boat. There are ramps readily available designed specifically for this purpose. Life vests are lifesavers, but ensure it is a proper fit.


Vacationing and traveling with your pet can be a fun and relaxing experience if you plan and prepare first. A good resource is a book titled, “Let’s Go Fido’ or it’s companion webinar. The book is a 43-page guide to safe traveling vacationing and boarding your pet and can be sourced by contacting me directly. The half hour webinar is always available in the On Demand Library at


Pesticide and fertilizer applications are poisonous to your pet; either by absorption or ingestion. They should not have access to treated areas. Additionally, pest traps use very yummy stuff as bait. Remember, what poisons the pest will also poison the pets. Topical pesticide treatments should be species appropriate. This is a serious issue for cats and small mammals.

Many commercially prepared types of mulch are chemically treated and can pose a health risk for your pet. Furthermore, you should not use cocoa mulch in pet areas. Check with your local garden center or before planting shrubs and plants to check for their possible toxicity.

Familiarize yourself with local wildlife and the dangers they present to your pets. This includes coyotes, bats, snakes, insects etc.

Monitored, appropriately-sized treats and toys will prevent a choking hazard.

Hot pavement, like sand can burn pads. You can apply topical salves and ointments for protection. In addition, pets can sunburn. Make sure shade is always available, as pets can easily sunburn. Protect sensitive areas with appropriate sunscreen or clothing.

Preventing dehydration is as easy as always providing clean, fresh, cool water. Dehydration will lead to heatstroke in a very short period of time. The very young, elderly, immune suppressed, cats, and those dogs with pushed in faces such as Pugs and Shih Tzu’s are most susceptible. Do not allow pets to over exert themselves during the summer. I provide both cooling mats and cooling collars for my pets. 

Thunderstorms, lightening, and fireworks are frightening to some pets. Keep them indoors at such times. Check your electronic fences after a thunderstorm, as lightening can short-circuit a fence rendering it useless. There are products from such companies as Thundershirt, Happy Hoodies, flower essences from Alaskan Essences, herbal products from Herbsnmith Inc, botanicals from Earth Heart Inc, and essential oil products from Aroma Dog/Aroma Cat that may help. Use caution when using these products on cats. Look for the cat safe label.

Even though you have done your best to provide a safe environment for your pet, accidents can and do happen. The AAHA states that 25% more pets could have been saved if only one pet first aid technique was applied prior to veterinary treatment. Do you know what to do in an emergency? Do you know where the nearest animal emergency HOSPITAL is? Have you prepared yourself by taking a pet first aid class? To locate an instructor near you, contact me at

Your pet would do it all for you.

Cars, Pets, and Heatstroke

A very preventable cause of death of pets is heatstroke. It occurs when owners leave their pets in the car for “just a few minutes”.  “People mean well by taking their pet along with them while they work, visit, shop or run errands. However, warm temperature can turn a car into a death trap, “said UAN President and CEO Nicole Forsyth.


It is for this reason that United Animal Nations (UAN) operates an educational website: It is a valuable resource to spread the word on the dangers of leaving pets in cars.

The site features include: 

  1. “It’s Hot” fliers to leave on car windshields.
  2. A weather forecasting tool. This allows people to enter their zip code and find out if it’s too hot to take your pet in the car.
  3. Free downloadable “Hot Weather Warning” posters to hang in store fronts.

San Francisco State University, Louisiana Medical Society, Stanford University and the Animal Protection Institute have all done separate studies and reached the same conclusion. It doesn’t matter if the windows are open. It doesn’t matter what the color of the car is. It doesn’t matter if you park in the shade. In temperatures as low as 72 degrees, the inside temperature of the car will rise 19 degrees in 10 minutes. In 20 minutes it will rise 29 degrees and so on. In as little as 15 minutes, the car can become deadly. Temperature Chart.

What are the principals behind vehicle warming?

The atmosphere and the windows of the car are transparent to the suns’ shortwave radiation. This is why it doesn’t matter if the windows are opened or closed. This shortwave radiation heats solid objects such as the dashboard and seats. These objects heat the adjacent air by conduction and convection. The objects give off longwave radiation which warms the trapped air in the vehicle.

Leaving the air conditioner on while your pets are waiting for you is not a good idea either.  For one, it is a mechanical device and mechanical devices are subject to breakdown. Instead of cooling the vehicle, it may warm it instead. Secondly, in your pets’ excitement, they may be all over your car. They could inadvertently turn it off.

Heatstroke begins when your pets’ body temperature surpasses 104 degrees. This happens when the temperature in their environment (car) becomes higher than their body temperature with little or no air circulation (car), high humidity (heavy panting) and close quarters (car). Signs include lethargy, heavy breathing and panting, bright red gums and tongue, vomiting and diarrhea.

Heatstroke can cause shock, respiratory distress, kidney failure, heart abnormalities among other complications. Damage can become irreversible once their body temperature reaches 106 degrees. Death follows.

What can be done if heatstroke occurs?

  1. Remove the pet from the hot environment!
  2. Turn on the A/C if possible.
  3. Lower the body temperature by wetting with cool water.
  4. Do not use cold water or ice water. It is counterproductive. It will shock the system and cause a thermal barrier. The pet will be unable to cool itself.
  5. Contact a veterinarian for instructions.
  6. Transport to veterinarian as soon as possible.


If you seen a pet in a vehicle exhibiting signs of heatstroke, call local animal control, police, or 911. In addition, ask the management of the nearby businesses to make an announcement.


Every year every animal control officer has the same story to tell. One they are tired of telling. Please leave your pets home if you have to leave them in the car.