Memorial Day and Our Pets!

With Memorial Day nearly here, our thoughts first go to those brave and patriotic men, women and service dogs who fought and died for our freedom. We want to take a moment to honor their memories and service.

Now, on to the fun associations we think of when we think of Memorial Day – 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, picnics and hikes, summer foods, fireworks, 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 heart worms. The number of cases of heart worms is expected to dramatically increase in Orange County this year due to the abundance of vegetation our wet spring has 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!

As we have brought up in previous blogs and is mentioned by the staff of the Animal Hospital of Waynesville in their article, “Memorial Day Safety Tips,” there are common foods which are often eaten during picnics that are toxic to our pets. These include grapes, onions, garlic, and raisins, to name a few. In general, the wisest course of action is to not feed your pets people food. We have to be strong and resist those big eyes!

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, lethargy, 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!

And always remember –


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 swimming 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 barbecued 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

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