Summer safety for your pet

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By Melanie Vittitow

Summer is a fun season, but there are numerous pitfalls and potential hazards for your pet. This article is geared to make you aware of them so you and your pet can avoid summer mishaps.

Last month we went over the things you need to know about traveling with your pet, so now we’ll cover many of the everyday things you need to consider.

First, and foremost, is the heat. It’s best to keep your animal indoors in air conditioning, if possible, during the hottest part of the day. If that is not possible, you must provide plenty of shade and water.

A small kiddie wading pool is a great spot to cool off. Plan walks and outdoor play for early or late in the day.

Keep in mind that asphalt, sidewalks, and sand can be hot enough to burn your pet’s paws. If it’s too hot for your bare feet, then it’s also too hot for them.

Some animals can weather the heat better than others. Long-haired breeds will do better with a cut but keep it at least an inch long to protect against the sun and insects.

Snub-nosed breeds have more difficulty breathing in hot weather. Watch for signs of distress (excessive panting, drooling and mild weakness) that may signal heatstroke. Cool them off with a cool (not cold) bath and call the vet right away.

Water safety. If you have a pool, then you need to show your dog how to get out of it. Dogs hold their heads up and can’t see at water level, so put a ribbon up on the hand rails to show your pet where the steps are, and have him practice getting to them from all sides of the pool until you know he can find his way.

If you go out on a boat your dog needs a life vest made specifically for pets, even if he is a strong swimmer. Some dogs love to splash in any body of water they see, but algae-covered ponds may contain harmful toxins, so keep him out of them.

Back yard safety. Kids love to run in and out of the yard. You may need to put locks on gates if you think there is a chance of kids leaving it open for the dog to escape.

During outdoor parties, you may need to appoint a family member to monitor doors, windows or gates. If that isn’t practical, you may need to confine your pet to a bedroom with water and a favorite toy. Anxious dogs, and most cats, will appreciate a quiet room all to themselves.

Take your dog on a tiring walk before guests arrive so he doesn’t get so excited by all the activity. If your pet enjoys being in the mix, then you will have to make sure he stays away from the charcoal grill, insect coils, candles, and toxic human foods (onions, garlic, chocolate, grapes, avocado, and more).

One suggestion is to place his bed under a shady tree where he can see all the action but be safely out of the way.

Toxic chemicals. Poison-proof your home and garage. Store weed killers, fertilizers, gasoline and such in a safe place the pet can’t reach.

Yard products are safe if used according to instructions, which usually means keeping the pet off the lawn for a few hours after application. Check your driveway and garage for leaked coolant. Antifreeze tastes sweet to animals but can be fatal even in small amounts.

Insect repellant with DEET can cause nervous system problems, so don’t let your pet lick your sprayed legs, and never spray it on the animal.

Parasites. Make sure your pet is up-to-date on its heartworm and flea-and-tick preventives. In Florida, your pet should be taking heartworm medication year-round. Fleas live here year-round also.

As for ticks, check your dog after every nature walk even if he is on preventive. Make a habit as part of your grooming to check for these parasites and remove with tweezers if embedded.

Now that you are set with all these safety tips, enjoy the summer with your pet.


The SPCA is having a yearly pizza party for members on June 19 and then will discontinue meetings for July and August. But that doesn’t mean we stop working.

We continue to pack food for the Pets on Wheels program twice monthly and we are constantly being notified of animals that need help. There are 7 dogs and 2 cats right now that need new homes.

Sheba, our German shepherd, is still being fostered but would really love a home and yard of her own.

Also in need of a good home are two dachshunds, a whippet, a boxer and two Yorkie-poos (these two must stay together).

The cats are both female, but they are strays we don’t know much about. The older one is spayed and the kitten will be spayed at the expense of a generous neighbor. Both are very friendly.

Genevieve Mallardi is our adoption contact. She has the particulars on all of these animals. Her number is 237-1322.

If you can’t adopt an animal maybe you will consider fostering one for a week or two. We had two dogs last month that were taken to the Humane Society because we had no one to keep them.

The boxer is staying with a neighbor because the owners had to leave. If we can’t find a home quickly, we won’t be able to help him either. Please think about it.

Till next month remember: “Pets are not our whole lives, but they make our lives whole.

Melanie Vittitow is an OTOW resident who does publicity for SPCA of Marion County. For SPCA information, call Jodi at 861-9765 or Melanie at 873-8690.