Kids & Pets
July 2, 2020
link to facebook link to twitter

Summer hazards for pets

By: Mickey Zeldes
June 21, 2019

After the heat last week this article might seem a bit late but we have plenty of hot weather ahead and there are lots of other hazards to warn about.  If you’re used to taking your dog with you everywhere it’s important to consider the comfort of the animal. It’s not always a matter of whether or not your dog can join you but whether it’s in the best interest of the animal to come along.  Besides the risk of overheating if left in the car (support animals do NOT have the same access rights as a trained service dog), the pavement can burn paws in no time.  Putting on booties prevents the paws from perspiring naturally and can add to the animal’s discomfort.

I know you think your dog will miss you and be lonely if left home but really, dogs will sleep about 80 percent of their day as long as they don’t have to hunt for food.  So let them be safe and comfortable while you run your errands.

My sister’s friend almost lost her dog a few weeks ago to a rattlesnake bite.  They were hiking in the canyons in LA when her dog got bit.  We have them too!  The snakes, that is.  Be super cautious whenever hiking with your dog. There are businesses that offer rattlesnake aversion training classes. County-wide Dog Training Club has brought them to our area; contact them for the next class at 707-478-6843.  You might want to check if your vet carries the anti-venom – not every vet does and at the time of an emergency you don’t want to waste time calling around.  Our County’s emergency hospitals – Animal Care Center in RP and both branches of Pet Care in Santa Rosa, often have the anti-venom but fair warning – it ain’t cheap!

The late rain and hot weather combination has been great for ticks and fleas – every animal coming in our doors is covered with them!  It’s best to use prevention rather than waiting until your animal is already reacting by scratching and chewing on himself.  Once an allergic reaction is triggered you are dealing with a multi-layered problem.  Know that ticks are carriers of Lyme and other diseases and fleas are the hosts for tapeworms – so they bring other issues with them.  Much easier to just give a monthly dose of prevention!  There are many choices now available so it’s worth a discussion with your veterinarian so that you put your pet on the most effective and appropriate product.  

I can hardly say how much I hate foxtails!  They look so innocuous blowing in the wind but they are evil!  The pointed barbs only go in one direction so once imbedded in your pet’s fur they burrow in and can do a lot of damage.  They can take the easy way in through openings – ears, noses and eyes are easy targets or they can actually enter through the skin especially between toes.  It’s very important to search your pet thoroughly after any outdoor activity!  The sooner you find this nettle the easier it is to remove and the less damage that is done.  If you come home from a hike and your dog is shaking her head or sneezing frequently, suspect a foxtail and get her to a vet asap!  Once a foxtail is embedded the vet is literally looking through the body for a (slowly) moving needle!

In spite of all these dangers I love summer and being outdoors with my pets.  It just takes some prevention, planning and extra time to ensure everyone’s safety.  After any outdoor activity each animal gets a thorough body search (for ticks, fleas and foxtails) and brushing. Get them used to it so it’s a pleasant end to a fun outing!

Upcoming Events

Kidz ‘n Critters Summer Camp – registration is now open for our camp program. 4 sessions for different age levels from 2nd grade to 7th grade.  Educational and interactive – perfect for all young animal lovers!  For details and registration forms go to or stop by the shelter.

“Get Them Back Home” Campaign – Every lost pet should have a way to get back home.  FREE pet ID tag and a back-up microchip are available to all residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati.  No appointment necessary, just come by the shelter during our regular open hours: Wed. 1-6:30; Thurs.-Fri.-Sat. 1-5:30; Sun. 1-4:30.

Fix-it Clinics – Free spay and neuters for cats; and $60 dog surgeries (up to 80 lbs.) for low-income Rohnert Park and Cotati residents.  Call 588-3531 for an appointment. 

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