How Safe Are Your Pets This Summer?

Collage of cute pets isolated on white

The splash of the pool, the sound of kids’ laughter, the smell of the neighbor’s barbecue – that’s right, summer is just around the corner!

For most people, summer is the most anticipated season of the year – but not necessarily so for our furry companions. Blooming plants, swimming pools, summer foods, fireworks, hiking, the summer sun – can all present potentially dangerous situations for your pets.

In the ASPCA’s June 6, 2011 article on tips to keep pets safe in the summer, their first recommendation is a visit to the vets. Owners need to make sure vaccinations are current and to check specifically for heartworms. The number of cases of heartworms is expected to increase in Orange County this year due to the abundance of vegetation the rains have created.

This time of year, Southern California is awash with color as the trees and flowers bloom. Most plants and flowers are not poisonous if eaten by dogs or cats but some can be very dangerous. Azaleas, Cyclamen, Kalanchoe, Oleanders, and Lily of the Valley flowers can cause various, serious side effects such as heart arrhythmia, gastric bleeding, coma or even death. Owners should immediately take their dog or cat to the vets if they see vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive drooling and they suspect their pet has eaten a plant or flower. Even the common weed Foxtail can lodge in and be hazardous to eyes and paws!

Of course, the most common danger to our pets, as well as ourselves, in the summer is the heat. Here are some common-sense suggestions from Cesar Millan, from the television series “The Dog Whisperer”:

  • Exercise your dog early in the morning or late at night – you may even need to back off the intensity of their exercise when temperatures soar.
  • Use doggie boots – dogs absorb and release heat through their feet.
  • Watch for signs of dehydration – panting, excessive drooling, lethargic, bloodshot eyes, etc.
  • Keep your dog hydrated! – remember, a darker coat means a hotter dog. The same with our overweight pets!
  • Swim instead of walking!


Charlene Lerman, from Friends to the Furry, a local dog walking and pet sitting business, agrees with Cesar. “We have to keep our pets cool in the summer. I have a friend who lost one of her precious little dogs several summers ago due to heat exhaustion. We recommend carrying water to drink and to mist with on your walks, serving frozen broth treats and investing in a wading pool to keep your dogs cool and comfortable this summer.”

Other summer cautions Ms. Lerman mentions include:

  • Make sure pools are fenced and that dogs have a way to get out of any pool, especially an in-ground pool. Dogs love to swim, especially when hot, but can easily drown if unsupervised and unable to get back out of a pool they jumped into.
  • Be cautious when feeding our pets certain “people foods” such as ribs or barbequed chicken with the bones in. Some bones can cause choking or may splinter when chewed causing serious internal damage if swallowed.
  • Fireworks may be fun for humans but not our pets. The noise is terribly frightening to both dogs and cats, the smoke may cause animals’ eyes to water and sparklers and other fireworks could actually catch their fur on fire! So be kind to them and keep them indoors on the Forth.

Friends to the Furry can be reached at (714) 492-7516 or on the web at


   Working in this industry, we fall in love with the animals and treat them as our own pets. I wanted to take a moment to honor a loved dog, Buster.


Buster was a bundle of love. I always looked forward to walking him those four times a week for the last six months. When I opened the front door Buster would run down stairs to greet me and cry for joy so loud that it sounded like he was injured. He just could not contain himself. And I could not contain myself either! I wrapped my arms around him while his tail wagged faster than a humming bird.

What did I do to deserve all this love? I just saw him yesterday, but it was like he hadn’t seen me in 10 years!

After he settled down — just a bit — he knew the routine. He would sit, look up at me with the sad eyes that said “Okay. I’m waiting. So, hand it over before I die of starvation!” I’d pull the dog treat out of my bag and tell him “Shake.” He’d stretch his paw out as if to reach for my hand and I’d give him his treat. “Good boy Buster!”

He’d breathe it right down while looking up as his eyes spoke again “Don’t stop now! Look how sad I look!”

Like putty in his paws I’d fall for his adorable face! He won AGAIN! 65b89388-0d3f-4ab3-9131-8ad2ced8325f

“Claudia, I’d say to myself, because I’d remember my name sometimes, are going to let him control you?” and I dared not to look in Busters eyes again or that’s it!

So, I’d show Buster my empty hands and say “No more Buster” and divert him by telling him “Let’s go for a walk” and put his harness on.

As soon as I’d open the front door and he’d spring into life. We were out on an adventure to see what’s up with the world and how we were going to be a part of it.  Nobody would know better than his nose!

“Which way do you want to go today Buster?”  He would zip along and walk me!

Calories burnin’, paws prancin’ … we were walkin’ down the road to yellow brick and sometimes brown brick, if there wasn’t grass, with a good supply of poop bags.

As we walked further down the line another dog appears. Buster see’s him and announces to the whole world “Here I am. I’m ready! Let’s go!!”

Buster pulls hard and I’m getting a good workout! Buster had a real spirit. 47f08a40-92bd-418f-b4ca-aa69c526de8a

As I think about him being gone, my eyes start to drown through my tears and I see a rainbow. On the other side it’s Buster! He’s smiling and wagging his tail. When he pants it sounds like he’s saying “Thank-you!”

The world could beat me up but Buster accepted me with love that was totally unconditional. He was a precious little angel who filled my soul with comfort and peace. Buster was blessing and he will always be in my heart.


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dog in santa hat

We are excited to be able to begin sharing our thoughts and experiences with you through our new blog page. We would love any feedback you can give us so that we can continue to improve our services to you and your furry loved ones!


I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe that the holiday season is here already! This is an exciting time of year and we all love to see friends and family but what about our furry friends?

For them this is sometime both a stressful and a possibly dangerous time of year and we as their ‘parents’ need to be extra vigilant for their sakes.

Furry Stressors

During this time of year, sometimes, as we rush around busily buying presents, preparing for parties and special family gatherings, rearranging the house and decorating it, we, ourselves, get a little ‘frayed around the edges’. As we all know, our pets are very sensitive to our moods and feelings. Not only do we have less time to spend with them but often when we are home we ourselves are more stressed than usual. Their stress may translate into more shedding, more hiding, more accidents and even more chewed up shoes or pillows or other ‘mischief’.

If you start to see the indicators, step back, take a breath and spend some quality time with your furry loved one. BOTH of you will benefit from a little love fest!

Seasonal Dangers

Doggy moms and dads need to be extra careful when party time and the family gatherings roll around. Chocolate desserts, hot chocolate drinks and rich chocolate candies are a part of the season which we all love. Who hasn’t put out a bowl of M & Ms or a platter of Aunt’s Martha’s special brownies during a party? But these foods which are treats for us can be very harmful to our dogs if they get even a small amount. Chocolate is poisonous to dogs and can cause liver and kidney damage and even death.

Kitty and doggy moms and dads need to be aware of three seasonal  plants that are mildly to seriously dangerous to both cats and dogs.  According to the Pet Poison Helpline, these three are lilies, poinsettias and mistletoe.

They say that there are dangerous and benign lilies out there, and it’s important to know the difference. Peace, Peruvian, and Calla lilies contain oxalate crystals that cause minor signs, such as tissue irritation to the mouth, tongue, pharynx, and esophagus – this results in minor drooling. The more dangerous, potentially fatal lilies are true lilies, and these include Tiger, Day, Asiatic, Easter and Japanese Show lilies – all of which are highly toxic to cats! Even small ingestions (such as 2-3 petals or leaves) can result in severe kidney failure.

Concerning poinsettias, the Pet Poison Helpline says that while poinsettias are commonly “hyped” as poisonous plants, they rarely are, and the poisoning is greatly exaggerated. When ingested, mild signs of vomiting, drooling, or rarely, diarrhea may be seen. If the milky sap is exposed to skin, dermal irritation (including redness, swelling, and itchiness) may develop.

The last of the three is mistletoe. The  Pet Poison Helpline says that there are several types of mistletoe which can be poisonous to pets:Phoradendron serotinum (American variety) and Viscum album (European variety). The American mistletoe is less toxic than the European varieties of it. Berries from this holiday plant contain polysaccharides, alkaloids, and lectins. When accidentally ingested by our pets, mistletoe poisoning can result in mild signs of gastrointestinal irritation (e.g., drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain). When ingested in large amounts, abnormal heart rate, collapse, hypotension (low blood pressure), ataxia (walking drunk), seizures and death have also been reported.

Bottom Line

So have fun. Enjoy this special time of the year but don’t forget to help your furry friends to enjoy it, too!