The San Francisco SPCA, the city's leading privately supported, non-profit animal welfare organization, has launched its online guide for summer health and safety.
Whether traveling out of town or staying home, out in the garden or planning long hikes, The SF/SPCA offers this guide for quick and easy reference:
"We launched this online resource to help dog and cat owners plan a safe and worry-free summer for their pets," said Jan McHugh-Smith, president of The SF/SPCA. "While this season raises a number of specific concerns for animals, maintaining the overall health of your pet is something to keep in mind all year long."
These top 10 safety tips for summer will help you and your pets enjoy the season:
- Never leave your dog/cat in the car — even with windows cracked down. The temperature can rise in minutes with deadly results. Learn to recognize the symptoms of heat stroke. And always carry your veterinarian's telephone number; better yet program it into your cell phone.
- Keep your vaccines up-to-date. Core vaccines are recommended for all dogs and cats. Serious and sometimes fatal diseases are common in all areas of the United States.
- Install and secure screens in household windows and doors, to assist in preventing cats and dogs from falling accidents.
- Be certain dogs/cats are microchipped and wear ID tags. Be sure both have current address/telephone number information. All cats and dogs adopted from The SF/SPCA's adoption center come already microchipped. If your animal is not "chipped", schedule an appointment today.
- Learn about pet-friendly gardening options. Plant fertilizer, pesticides, and even certain types of house plants can be harmful, even fatal (!), to pets. Be sure to keep citronella candles, oil products and insect coils out of pets' reach.
- Consult with your veterinarian regarding flea & tick prevention options. Warmer temperatures and dry conditions are perfect for the lifespan of parasites. Heartworm, a very serious and possibly fatal disease, is transmitted by the mosquito. If not on year-round preventative medication, be sure to have dogs AND cats tested.
- Keep animals away from foxtails (not the animal, but the vegetation). These bushy, sticky grasses can become embedded in a pet's coat and burrow through the skin into the animal's body causing medical problems. Avoid overgrown lawns and fields while on walks or hiking. Keep your pet's coat well groomed during summer months. Inspect your pet's fur after hiking, including ears, nose and between the toes.
- Use veterinary prescribed sunscreen to prevent burning and skin cancer especially in white dogs, and/or dogs with a fine coat. Apply to noses and tips of ears. Include sunscreen in your Pet First Aid kit/backpack.
- Keep dogs leashed when out and about. Only well-socialized and well-behaved dogs should be included in large group activities. If your dog needs behavior training, register for one of our upcoming classes.
- Consider a vacation location where pets are welcome. If that's not possible, do your homework on pet sitting services and boarding facilities well in advance.
The Leanne B. Roberts Animal Care Center, The SF/SPCA's full-service veterinary hospital, provides many of the services recommended on this list as well as routine veterinary services, such as check ups, vaccinations, emergency care, and dental care.