Summer is your dog ready for it?
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By Mickey Zeldes  May 3, 2013 12:00 am

What’s up with the weather? Guess we’re not having a spring this year. 

Seems like we went from cold, windy rain last week to 80-plus degree weather this week. Half of the people you see outside are dressed in shorts and tank tops and the other half are still wearing corduroys and long sleeves. What that means for our pets is some of us have not shifted to our warm weather safety awareness mode yet – and we need to. 

Here are some points to remember. The shelter has already received three dogs removed from hot cars. These dogs had elevated body temperatures and were at risk of heatstroke and possible death – all because the morning started out pleasant enough, but then the day started to heat up. As the weather gets warmer, it is no longer safe to bring your pets along as you run errands. Even a 10-minute stop, if the car is left in the direct sun, can prove too much for some dogs.

Heatstroke is an issue for dogs exercised in the heat of the day. Best for you and your dog if you do heavy exertion earlier in the morning or in the evening as the day cools off. Build up your dog slowly to make sure he doesn’t suffer from sprains and strains – just as you should. No sense in both of you being sidelined with injuries caused by the weekend warrior syndrome. And you know dogs mask their pain, so you might not realize they’ve overdone it until it’s too late. 

Check dogs after walks

I recently went to the Rocky Dog Park in Petaluma, and the entire nine acres were covered in foxtails. I don’t know how they plan to get rid of them, as cutting them down at this point would still leave the barbed points on the ground to dry up and hurt our pets. 

So, I guess we’re through going there for a while. These pesky plants are popping up everywhere, so it’s important to get in the habit again of giving your pet a thorough look-over after every walk.

While you are searching for foxtails, be sure to keep an eye open for fleas and ticks. There’s been a noticeable increase in the activity level of ticks, especially in the last couple of weeks. These blood-sucking parasites are not only itchy and annoying, but they also carry diseases and other parasites. Ew! No one likes dealing with them, so prevention is the best policy. Bathe your pets regularly and use a good flea and tick repellent. There are many on the market – from high quality collars sold by veterinarians to once-a-month ointments that are applied to the animal’s back to long-lasting oral medications. Talk to your veterinarian to see which makes the most sense for your pet (given their overall health, age, and exposure risk) and then start using it regularly.

Ideal time for training

As the days get longer and we do more activities outdoors with our dogs, it might be the perfect time to brush up on his obedience skills. Having a dog that will return to you when called can save his life and makes traveling and hiking with a pet much more pleasurable and worry free. And because our pets are enjoying the outdoors more, it’s that much more important to make sure they are microchipped and wearing current IDs. 

Both are still free (for all Rohnert Park and Cotati residents) at the RP Animal Shelter. Let’s all be safe this spring…I mean summer…by being aware of the temperatures outside and doing some basic prevention. 


Upcoming events

Amnesty Week: All late fees will be waived from May 5-11, so you can get your pets current on their licenses. Need a rabies vaccine? VIP will be offering a special $6 rabies clinic (other vaccines available at their regular low price) on Wednesday, May 8, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the shelter.

Animal Talk Adult Ed Program: Learn about Cat Aggression and have your cat behavior questions answered by Beth Weil, cat behavior consultant from the Marin Humane Society on Wednesday, May 8, from 6:30-8 p.m. It’s just $10 per person and pre-registration is requested. Call 584-1582 for more information.

Bunny Day: Meet the Bunny event is on the second Saturday of each month (next is May 11), from 1-5 p.m. Meet our adoptable rabbits, have your care questions answered by our knowledgeable rabbit volunteers, bring your rabbit for a free nail trim and support our small animals by shopping our Bunny Boutique for fresh hay, treats and toys.

Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at

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