10 Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe and Cool All Summer Long

Who doesn’t love the long, sunny days of summer?

Rides around town with the windows down. Long, lazy walks in the morning and evening. A dip in the pool, pond, lake or ocean. The smell of fresh cut grass or a neighborhood cookout.

Many pet owners can’t wait to get their pets outside to be a part of all the activities they enjoy during the warmest months of the year.

But before you take your fur-covered pal out into the sunshine, make sure you understand how your pet handles the heat, as well as other summertime temptations.

Dr. Becker’s Comments:

There’s one huge difference between the way your body processes hot temps and the way your dog’s body handles it – sweat.

The human body cools itself down by sweating. You possess about two million sweat glands, and without them you wouldn’t be able to tolerate the heat your body produces.

Sweat glands regulate your body’s temperature by bringing moisture to the surface of your skin, which then has a cooling effect as the sweat evaporates. Since sweat glands are found throughout the human body, this cooling effect takes place over the majority of your skin.

Your Pet Can’t Sweat

Dogs not only have a higher body temperature than people at about 100 to 102oF, their bodies just aren’t as efficient at cooling down.

The only sweat glands your furry companion has are on his nose and the pads of his feet. The primary way he brings his body temp down is through panting and breathing. The lining of his lungs, which is moist, serves as the evaporative surface.

There’s a popular notion that a dog’s tongue contains sweat glands, but this is a fallacy. Some minimal cooling occurs as your pup pants and draws air over moist surfaces in his mouth, but there are no sweat glands in the oral cavity.

10 Tips for Keeping Your Pet Safe on Summer Days

  1. Dogs and cats can quickly dehydrate, so make sure your pet has plenty of fresh, clean water at all times – but especially during hot weather. If your pet will be outside in the heat any length of time, he should have access to complete shade and again, an ample supply of drinking water.
  2. Exercise your dog in the morning or evening during the coolest temps of the day, stay in the shade whenever possible, and keep all your animals indoors when it’s extremely hot, generally considered to be 90oF or hotter.
  3. Regardless of the time of day, don’t overdo exercise sessions. Long periods of exercise in hot weather, even after the sun goes down, can bring on heatstroke – especially in flat-faced dogs that pant less effectively than breeds with longer muzzles.
  4. Never, EVER leave your pet alone in a parked vehicle on a hot day. Your car or truck cab can become a furnace very quickly, even with the windows open, and can cause a fatal case of heatstroke in your beloved pet. Aside from the risk of serious illness or death for your pet, leaving pets unattended in vehicles in hot weather is illegal in many states.
  5. Make sure your dog knows how to swim before giving her access to a pool, pond, lake or other body of water. Not all dogs, even breeds known for their affinity for water, instinctively know how to swim. Introduce your pup to water gradually.

    Make sure if you take your dog boating she wears her own floatation device. Even if she’s an excellent swimmer, if she should get injured or worn out from exertion, the floatation device will keep her in sight until she can be rescued. If your dog doesn’t listen to the ‘come’ command, always attach a long rope to her life vest so you can ‘reel’ her in.

  6. Play in the sprinkler with your dog or hose her down with cool water if she must stay outside and cannot avoid temperatures over 90 degrees.
  7. Don’t walk or otherwise subject your dog (or cat) to hot pavement. Not only can this result in burns to tender paws, but because animals are close to the ground – and the ground is much hotter than the air – your animal can quickly overheat.
  8. Keep your pet safe from toxic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides commonly used during spring and summer months.
  9. Take care to keep your pet away from the potential food and drink hazards of your backyard barbeques, and remember to keep them safe at home during fireworks displays. Many animals suffer extreme fear from the noise, and the explosives themselves can be potentially hazardous to a curious pet.
  10. Work with a holistic veterinarian to help your pet avoid summer pests like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. There are safe, natural methods to both prevent and eradicate summertime pest infestations.

Know the Signs of Overheating

Symptoms your pet is overheated include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Elevated body temperature (over 104 degrees)
  • Increased heart rate and respiration
  • Drooling
  • Weakness or collapse
  • Seizures
  • Diarrhea and vomiting

If you have an older pet, one that is overweight or obese, an animal with a heart or lung condition, or a dog or cat with a flat face, the very best thing you can do during hot summer days is keep your pet inside in the air conditioning, with plenty of cool, fresh water to drink.

101 Uses for Dog Fur?

Your dog’s shedding may drive you crazy, but there are lots of uses for that “used” hair. During our GROOM FOR THE GULF event, Area groomers are collecting clippings from dogs and sending them to clean up the Gulf Oil Spill. The fur is stuffed into nylon stockings, encased in mesh, and floated into contaminated areas. Once saturated, it can be replaced with another fur-filled “boom”. Read more…



No Bones About It: Bones are Unsafe for Your Dog

The idea that it’s natural for dogs to chew on bones is a popular one. However, it’s a dangerous practice and can cause serious injury to your pet.

“Some people think it’s safe to give dogs large bones, like those from a ham or a roast,” says Carmela Stamper, D.V.M., a veterinarian in the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the Food and Drug Administration. “Bones are unsafe no matter what their size. Giving your dog a bone may make your pet a candidate for a trip to your veterinarian’s office later, possible emergency surgery, or even death.”

“Make sure you throw out bones from your own meals in a way that your dog can’t get to them,” adds Stamper, who suggests taking the trash out right away or putting the bones up high and out of your dog’s reach until you have a chance to dispose of them. “And pay attention to where your dog’s nose is when you walk him around the neighborhood—steer him away from any objects lying in the grass.”

Here are 10 reasons why it’s a bad idea to give your dog a bone:

  1. Broken teeth. This may call for expensive veterinary dentistry.
  2. Mouth or tongue injuries. These can be very bloody and messy and may require a trip to see your veterinarian.
  3. Bone gets looped around your dog’s lower jaw. This can be frightening or painful for your dog and potentially costly to you, as it usually means a trip to see your veterinarian.
  4. Bone gets stuck in esophagus, the tube that food travels through to reach the stomach. Your dog may gag, trying to bring the bone back up, and will need to see your veterinarian.
  5. Bone gets stuck in windpipe. This may happen if your dog accidentally inhales a small enough piece of bone. This is an emergency because your dog will have trouble breathing. Get your pet to your veterinarian immediately!
  6. Bone gets stuck in stomach. It went down just fine, but the bone may be too big to pass out of the stomach and into the intestines. Depending on the bone’s size, your dog may need surgery or upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, a procedure in which your veterinarian uses a long tube with a built-in camera and grabbing tools to try to remove the stuck bone from the stomach.
  7. Bone gets stuck in intestines and causes a blockage. It may be time for surgery.
  8. Constipation due to bone fragments. Your dog may have a hard time passing the bone fragments because they’re very sharp and they scrape the inside of the large intestine or rectum as they move along. This causes severe pain and may require a visit to your veterinarian.
  9. Severe bleeding from the rectum. This is very messy and can be dangerous. It’s time for a trip to see your veterinarian.
  10. Peritonitis. This nasty, difficult-to-treat bacterial infection of the abdomen is caused when bone fragments poke holes in your dog’s stomach or intestines. Your dog needs an emergency visit to your veterinarian because peritonitis can kill your dog.

“Talk with your veterinarian about alternatives to giving bones to your dog,” says Stamper. “There are many bone-like products made with materials that are safe for dogs to chew on.”

“Always supervise your dog with any chew product, especially one your dog hasn’t had before,” adds Stamper. “And always, if your dog ‘just isn’t acting right,’ call your veterinarian right away!”

This article appears on FDA’s Consumer Updates page4, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.

Date Posted: April 20, 2010

The Critical Importance of Socializing Your Puppy

Did you know behavior problems are the number one cause of relinquishment of dogs to shelters?

Another very disturbing statistic: over half the dogs entering shelters in the U.S. will be euthanized.

It’s a well-known fact that puppy classes help prevent behavior problems and increase the likelihood a dog will become a great pet and lifelong companion.

Given the reason most dogs are turned in to shelters and the success of early socialization in preventing behavior problems, it seems obvious the risks associated with an unsocialized dog are much greater than the minimal risk of disease transmission during puppy classes.

It is for this reason the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) believes it is necessary to socialize puppies before they are fully vaccinated.

Dog owners are strongly encouraged to weigh the small risk of contracting disease against the enormous benefits derived from early, effective socialization. The wisest choice is to begin socialization of puppies at seven to eight weeks of age.


Your puppy, just like your child if you have one, can’t grow into a healthy adult without your help and leadership. I often tell my clients, “Good puppies aren’t born, they’re made.”

You wouldn’t dream of confining your child to your house and yard all her life, or decide to begin parenting your child at 18 years of age, when they have developed concerning behaviors or habits. Yet that is the situation many puppies grow up in – with owners who later don’t understand how their cute little puppy turned into such a destructive or disobedient or aggressive animal.

Dogs are social creatures. Your pup needs interaction — with you, other people and other animals, beginning very early in life.

Companionship is necessary for your puppy’s emotional well-being. Involve your puppy with your family, as well as friends and new faces, right from the start. If you’re crate training your pup, move the crate or playpen into a room where your family spends time together.

Contrary to what many people believe, puppies need a great deal of time and attention in order to ensure they mature into dogs who are beloved members of the family.

The Importance of Socializing Your Puppy

Socialization means exposing your puppy to as many new people, animals, environments and other stimuli as possible without overwhelming him. Over-stimulation of a young puppy can result in excessive fear, withdrawal or avoidance behavior, so knowing how much is enough is important.

A properly socialized puppy is:

  • Handled from birth and learns to accept touching of all body parts
  • Exposed to as many people, other animals, places and situations as possible
  • Encouraged to explore and investigate his environment
  • Allowed to experience a variety of toys and games, surfaces and other stimuli
  • Brought along often on car rides to new environments with his owner

Proper socialization will engage all of your puppy’s senses through exposure to the sights, sounds and smells of day-to-day life.

This exposure will desensitize and condition your pup so that he develops a comfort level with different and new situations.

Socialization also helps you train your young dog to handle new experiences and challenges with acceptable, appropriate behavior.

An unsocialized dog is unlikely to cope well with changes in his environment or situation, making him difficult to handle for his owner, veterinarian, groomer, pet sitter, and any visitors to the dog’s home.

If your puppy isn’t properly socialized, he can develop permanently ingrained fear responses and generalized anxiety. This type of behavior problem can ultimately make your dog unsuitable as a pet – for you or anyone else.

Almost half of all dogs turned in to shelters have at least one behavior problem — aggression and destructiveness are among the most common. Both of these behaviors can be caused by the fear and anxiety that develops from improper or incomplete socialization.

Timing is Everything

The most important time to socialize a puppy is during her first three months of life. For most people, that means starting the process on puppy’s very first day home.

The first three months of your dog’s life are when sociability outweighs fear, and her brain is most inclined to accept new experiences. What your pup encounters during this critical time will shape her character, temperament and behavior for the rest of her life.

If your puppy isn’t socialized during her first three months, it can increase the risk of behavior problems later in life, such as fear, avoidance and aggression. These problems can be excruciatingly difficult to fix in an older animal.

The last thing you hope for when you bring home your adorable little bundle of love and energy is that she’ll end up an ill-behaved and unmanageable adult dog, banished to your backyard or the nearest animal shelter.

That’s why it is so incredibly important to properly socialize your pup before she reaches the age of 14-16 weeks.

Tips for Socializing Your Puppy

Socialization is intended to develop your puppy into an outgoing, sociable dog without behavior problems. The socialization process can start at seven to eight weeks and should continue for the rest of your pet’s life.

1. Puppy classes

Enrolling your little guy in a well-run puppy class involves minimal exposure to health risks and is an excellent way to:

  • Increase puppy’s responsiveness to commands
  • Teach bite inhibition through puppy play
  • Teach proper interaction with people, including strangers
  • Learn tips for successful housebreaking and how to prevent hyperactivity (the two most common reasons given by owners when relinquishing their dogs)
  • Develop more realistic expectations for your dog
  • Strengthen your bond with your puppy

Studies show owners who involve their puppies in puppy classes are much more likely to keep their pets.

If you adopted your puppy from a shelter environment, you may be asked to attend puppy classes without him for a few weeks to ensure he doesn’t have a contagious illness that hasn’t shown itself yet (such as parvovirus).

In the meantime, as long as your puppy isn’t showing signs of illness, you can take him around older, vaccinated/titered dogs, people and new environments for socialization purposes.

Areas you’ll want to avoid until your puppy has been immunized (acquired protective immunity) and is about 4 months old include dog parks, sidewalks, parking lots of veterinary clinics, floors in vet clinics and mass retail pet stores (where diseased animals may have been present).

Pet diseases are regional, so you should consult your veterinarian or do your own research to determine what types of canine illnesses are prevalent where you live.

Don’t worry unnecessarily about risks to your puppy’s health from other pets in a well-run puppy class. Just keep in mind that the risk of illness from early socialization is small compared to the risks your dog could face if he develops behavior problems later in life.

2. Interaction with other people and animals

Invite friends and family over to meet and interact with your puppy. Try to include people of varying ages and ethnicities, especially children if you don’t have any, and both genders.

Also invite gentle, healthy dogs, puppies and cats to your home to meet and play with your pup. You can also take your puppy for visits to the homes of suitable, healthy pets.

Take your puppy for short rides in the car, and to public places where people gather and there’s plenty of activity.

3. Exposure to unfamiliar sights and sounds

Make sure your puppy is exposed to unfamiliar or out-of-place objects around your house so that he will not startle or be fearful of changes in his environment. Your pup must learn to not fear the opening of an umbrella, the rearranging of furniture, or the clothes hamper being in a new location.

It’s also very important to get your puppy accustomed to hearing a variety of sounds. Examples: your vacuum cleaner, the lawn mower, the traffic outside, a blow dryer, a fresh plastic or paper trash bag being snapped open, the TV, video games, etc.

The goal is not to frighten your pup, but to expose him to new sounds from a distance at first, gradually bringing them closer. Life is noisy; your dog must learn these sounds are nothing to fear.

4. Bathing, grooming and handling your puppy

Get your puppy used to being bathed and brushed, having her nails clipped, her teeth brushed, and her ears and other body parts examined and inspected by routinely practicing these activities (sometimes daily). This allows your pet to get comfortable being handled, making bath time, nail trims and her visits to the vet and groomer easier on all of you.

This is also a good time to introduce your pup to her own collar and leash or harness.

5. Make socializing your puppy a positive experience

Start socializing your pup from his first day home with you, but take it slow. Set the stage for him and then let him move at his own pace. Take care that your puppy doesn’t become overwhelmed, frightened or harmed in any way.

Don’t hurry or force his progress, and don’t try to do too much at once. Puppies tire quickly, so keep his socialization sessions frequent but relatively brief — and always positive.

When your puppy shows hesitance or fear — and most puppies will as they attempt to adjust to a big, noisy world — do not reward his fearful behavior with a lot of attention and affection. Stay close by to reassure him he’s safe, but remember that your puppy views your attention and affection as a reward for a particular behavior. Rewarding his fearful behavior can encourage his fearfulness.

Socializing your puppy should be an enjoyable, satisfying experience for both of you — one that will pay dividends for the rest of your life together as pet and owner. There is no greater joy than a well-adjusted, well-behaved four-legged member of the family.

Adopting Your Pet from a Shelter – Risky or Rewarding?

No one really knows how many dogs and cats are in the United States, but there’s plenty of debate about whether or not this country suffers from pet overpopulation.

Dr. Becker’s Comments:

Some argue it’s a distribution problem. Shelters say we’re still killing adoptable animals.

As the article suggests, there’s considerable debate about whether a pet overpopulation problem still exists in the U.S.

Some believe the problem isn’t that there are too many adoptable companion animals, but that some areas of the country have too many while other areas don’t have enough to meet local demand. They also point to overburdened shelters – fallout from a flagging economy – as presenting a temporary situation that is skewing the numbers higher.

On the other side of the argument are those who believe that while the numbers of unwanted dogs and cats have improved dramatically, adoptable animals are still dying in shelters – a clear indication the overpopulation problem still exists.

These people see a number of problems contributing to overpopulation, including:

  • Too many pets and too few suitable homes
  • Unprepared pet owners with unrealistic expectations and a lack of understanding of normal companion animal behavior
  • Owners who view their pets as a convenience, or an accessory, or as disposable

Unfortunately, shelters aren’t required to keep statistics, so it’s impossible to accurately assess the size of the problem.

The Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) estimates six to eight million dogs and cats are relinquished to shelters each year, and three to four million are euthanized.

Unintended Consequences of Doing the Right Thing

Communities that have implemented and maintained effective spay/neuter and other animal control programs have reduced or eliminated their pet overpopulation problems.

But because they have relatively small populations of adoptable animals and not much variety, they lack supply to meet the demands of local residents looking to add a pet to their family – especially a dog. So prospective pet owners look elsewhere for the particular breed or size dog they want.

This is one of the reasons international importations, irresponsible breeders and puppy mills stay in business.

Another reason is because they can answer the specific demands of different areas of the country. For example, adoptable Chihuahuas can be found in abundance in several Western states, but not in New York where living spaces and lifestyles make small dogs in great demand.

Well run, well funded shelters can also inadvertently add to the problem of too little supply to meet demand.

Shelters with on-site hospitals and animal behavior specialists have higher adoption rates than shelters with fewer resources, because they are able to work more extensively with animals with health or behavior issues to make them adoptable.

Transporting Adoptable Pets to Less Crowded Shelters is Problematic

There are many more crowded shelters than there are shelters looking for animals to take in, so partnerships among shelters are crucial for successful movement of pets from over to under-populated areas.

Networking over the internet has proved tremendously helpful in encouraging shelter partnerships. When shelters have a variety of animals available, adoption rates are high. Partnerships among shelters facilitate not only the transport of adoptable pets, but also the right mix of animals to optimize adoption rates.

Many successful transport programs exist and more are being developed, however, there are a number of problems associated with moving shelter animals. Disease is the biggest concern, especially when animals are moved due to natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina.

A rise in the number of no-kill shelters has resulted in instances of severe overcrowding and substandard care. Sick dogs and cats transported from overwhelmed no-kill shelters pose health risks to animals in receiving shelters.

Absorption of imported pets into U.S. shelters poses its own set of risks, as dogs and cats from foreign countries may be harboring diseases that have been stamped out here.

Another concern is the stress pets undergo during transport.

The involvement of the veterinary community is critical to the success of shelter-to-shelter transport programs. Vets can reduce and prevent outbreaks of disease resulting from the transfer and introduction of sick animals to healthy shelter populations.

Veterinarians can also help in the decision making process for which animals are adoptable and which are not.

Toward that end, the Association of Shelter Veterinarians is developing a guide to help shelters answer the question of what constitutes an adoptable pet. The guide will also include standards of care in shelters and a discussion of shelter pet transport programs.

How You Can Be Part of the Solution

  • If you’re planning to add a new four-legged family member to your household, make a commitment to bring home only a sheltered or rescued animal.
  • If you’ll be a new pet parent or have had unsatisfactory experiences with pet ownership in the past, do your homework so that you know which type of pet best suits your family’s temperament and lifestyle. You can do lots of research right on your computer. I also encourage you to talk with a veterinarian, breeder, or other knowledgeable source about the particular pet you’re considering adopting.
  • If you can’t find the pet you’re looking for locally, consider widening your search. This is easy to do with online services like Petfinder.com.

    If you locate an adoptable pet that might be a good match in a shelter outside your area, contact the shelter to see if they do non-local adoptions and what transport arrangements are available.

  • When you bring your new adopted furry friend home, it should be with the understanding you are making a commitment to your pet’s health and happiness for the rest of his life.

Donate Your Used Phone

By donating your used phone you will be helping support the AKC Homane Fund’s good works as well as helping better the environment through phone recycling.

Assistance Canines

If you or a loved one has a medical disability, you
may consider a canine assistant for help in the
following areas:
-Watch care
-Medical Emergency Response
-Physical therapy
-Stress intervention
And many more.
Unlike those “cookie-cutter” service dog organizations, The Canine Coach strives to train a dog to meet YOUR specific needs. Our program has placed dogs with disabled people in as little as 90 days from the date of application.