Pet Safety

Summertime Pet Safety


Most people are aware that leaving a pet in a locked car on a 100F degree day would be dangerous. However, it is the seemingly mild days of spring (and fall) that pose great danger, too. Driving around, parking, and leaving your pet in the car for “just a minute” can be deadly. An 85 F degree day can heat up the interior of a car to 120-130 F degrees in 30 minutes or less – even with the windows cracked.

Signs of heat stroke include (but are not limited to): body temperatures of 104-110F degrees, excessive panting, dark or bright red tongue and gums, staggering, stupor, seizures, bloody diarrhea or vomiting, coma, all leading to death. Brachycephalic breeds (the short-nosed breeds, such as Bulldogs and Pugs), large heavy-coated breeds, and those dogs with heart or respiratory problems are more at risk for heat stroke.

If you suspect heat stroke in your pet, seek Veterinary attention immediately!

Use cool water, not ice water, to cool your pet. (Very cold water will cause constriction of the blood vessels and impede cooling.) Do not aid cooling below 103 F degrees – some animals can actually get hypothermic, too cold. Offer ice cubes for the animal to lick on until you can reach your Veterinarian. Just because your animal is cooled and “appears” OK, do NOT assume everything is fine. Internal organs such as liver, kidneys, brain, etc., are definitely affected by the body temperature elevation, and blood tests and veterinary examination are needed to assess this.

Consider your pet’s housing. If they are kept outdoors, do they have shade and fresh water access at all times? I have treated one case of heat stroke in a dog that did indeed have shade and water while tethered under a deck, but had gotten the chain stuck around a stake in the middle of the yard — no water or shade for hours. If you live in a warm climate, it is a good idea to hose down the dog before work, at lunch or whenever you can to provide extra cooling (if you dog is not over heated in the first place).

Antifreeze is actually a year-round hazard. With the warmer temperatures of summer, cars over heat and may leak antifreeze. (This is the bright green liquid found oozing from that car with the engine fan on.) Also, people change their antifreeze and may spill or leave unused antifreeze out where pets can access it. Antifreeze tastes sweet and is inviting to pets (and children). It is also extremely toxic in very small amounts. Call your Veterinarian (or Physician) immediately if any ingestion is suspected. A safe alternative to Ethylene Glycol antifreeze is available, it is called propylene glycol, and while it does cost a small amount more than ‘regular’ antifreeze, it is worth the peace of mind.

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Basic First Aid for Pets


Basic Supplies

  1. Gauze pads

  2. Gauze roll/bandages

  3. Roll of cloth

  4. Thermometer

  5. Tweezers

  6. Hydrogen peroxide

  7. Antibiotic ointment

  8. Q-tips

  9. Instant cold pack

  10. Rags/rubber tubing for tourniquet

  11. First Aid book

Handling an Injured Animal

Any animal injured or in pain can bite or scratch you. Even the friendliest of pets must be handled with care for the safety, of all involved. If you are accidentally bitten or scratched, seek medical attention. Both dog and cat bites can become infected quickly!

Cats and Dogs

Vital Statistics: Pulse and Heart Rate

Normal Resting Rates:

  • Cats: 150-200 bpm
  • Small Dogs: 90-120 bpm
  • Medium Dogs: 70-110 bpm
  • Large Dogs: 60-90 bpm

Pulse should be strong, regular and easy to locate.

         Checking the Pulse: The easiest place to locate a pulse is the femoral artery in the groin area. Place your fingers on the inside of the hind leg and slide your hand upward until the back of your fingers touches the abdomen. Gently move your fingers back and forth on the inside of the hind leg until you feel the pulsing blood. Count the number of pulses in 15 seconds and multiply that number by 4. This will give you the beats per minute (bpm).


Normal temp. for dogs and cats: 100-102.5 degrees.

Thermometer should be almost clean when removed.

Abnormalities are indicated by blood, diarrhea, or black, tarry stool.

Basic First Aid Procedures

All of the following situations require immediate veterinary care.

  • Muzzle Animal.
  • Gently lay animal on a board, wooden door, tarp, etc. padded with blankets.
  • Secure animal to the support.
  • Do not attempt to set the fracture.
  • If a limb is broken, wrap the leg in cotton padding, then wrap with a magazine, rolled newspaper, towel or two sticks. Splint should extend one joint above the fracture and one joint below. Secure with tape. Make sure wrap does not constrict blood flow.
  • If the spine, ribs, hip, etc. appears injured or broken, gently place the animal on the stretcher and immobilize it if possible.

  • Muzzle animal.
  • Press thick gauze pad over wound. Hold firmly until clotting occurs.
  • If bleeding is severe, apply a tourniquet between the wound and the heart.
  • Loosen tourniquet for 20 seconds every 15-20 minutes.
  • A tourniquet is dangerous and should only be used in life-threatening hemorrhaging of a limb. It may result in amputation or disability of the limb.

  • Symptoms: bleeding from nose, mouth, rectum; coughing blood; blood in urine; pale gums; collapse; rapid or weak pulse.
  • Keep animal as warm and quiet as possible.

  • Muzzle animal.
  • Flush immediately with large quantities of cold water.

  • Muzzle animal.
  • Quickly apply ice water compresses.
  • Treat for shock if necessary.
  • Symptoms: weak pulse; shallow breathing; nervousness; dazed appearance.
  • Often accompanies severe injury or extreme fright.
  • Keep animal restrained, quiet and warm.
  • If unconscious, keep head level with rest of body.

Restraint Methods

If your animal is injured, you must restrain him/her for your safety as well as your pet’s. Muzzle your pet to restrain it unless it is unconscious, has difficulty breathing or has a mouth injury.

Dog Muzzles

  1. Speak and move calmly and quietly.
  2. Have someone restrain the dog with a leash.
  3. Approach dog from the side and behind its head; do not attempt to put muzzle on from the front.
  4. Quickly slip a nylon or wire cage muzzle over nose, secure snugly behind ears.
  5. If a muzzle is not available, you can make one from a strip of gauze, rag, necktie, belt or rope about 3 feet long.
    • Make a large loop in the center. Quickly slip loop over dog’s nose.
    • Bring ends under chin. Tie snugly behind ears.
Cat Muzzles

  1. Speak and move calmly and quietly.
  2. Have someone restrain the cat by holding the scruff of its neck firmly. This does not hurt the cat; it just prevents him/her from moving.
  3. Working from behind the cat, quickly slip a nylon muzzle over the cat’s face. The muzzle will cover most of his/her face, including the eyes. Secure snugly behind head.
  4. If you are alone, scruff the cat with one hand and put the muzzle over the cat’s face with the other. Slide both hands along muzzle straps and secure behind the head.
  5. If a muzzle is not available, one can be made with a rag or a strip of gauze. Make sure that it is carefully placed around the cat’s mouth and securely fastened, as cats can escape from these temporary muzzles.
Cats Body Restraint

  1. Most cats can be restrained by holding the scruff of the neck.
  2. The “Cat Sack” can be used for fractious or very frightened cats. Slip sack over cat from tail to head, zip up appropriate zippers.
  3. Wrap cat in a towel, making, sure his/her front legs are covered and against the body.
  4. Gloves are not recommended for handling cats. They reduce the handler’s dexterity and can easily be penetrated by a cat’s teeth.

Basic First Aid Procedures for Birds

All of the following situations require immediate veterinary care.


  • Restrain bird by wrapping in a towel or slipping into a sock with the toe cut out.

  • Restrain bird by wrapping in a towel or sock, leaving leg exposed.
  • Splint leg with 2 pieces of adhesive tape placed perpendicular to leg across break site.
Broken “Blood” Feather (New Feather)

  • Pull feather out gently; bleeding should decrease.
  • Press finger over removal site until bleeding stops.
Wound or Broken Nail

  • Apply pressure to site with finger’s). Bleeding should decrease.
  • Apply “Quick Stop” powder or styptic to stop bleeding.
  • Flour or cornstarch can be used in an emergency.
Puncture Wounds

  • Wrap bird in towel or sock.
  • See veterinarian: antibiotics are required to prevent infections.


  • Carefully wrap bird in towel, gently folding his/her wings against the body. Keep your hands out of the way of the beak.
  • Gloves are not recommended for bigger birds. They reduce the handler’s dexterity and strong beaks can easily penetrate them.

Small Mammals and Reptiles


Wrap the animal in a towel or rag, gently folding his/her legs against the body.

This material produced by the Palo Alto Humane Society in conjunction with the American Red Cross Northern California Disaster Preparedness Network and the Independent Living Resource Center, San Francisco, CA in cooperation with June Kailes, Disability Consultant through a grant from The American Red Cross Northern California Disaster Preparedness Network

The HSUS Offers Tips for a Fun and Safe Summer for Your Pets

  • It is important to make sure that your pet has protection from heat and sun and plenty of fresh water. Heat stroke can be fatal for pets as well as people.
  • Leaving your pet outside unattended even for a few minutes places them at risk of theft or harm.
  • Take care when exercising your pet.Adjust intensity and duration of exercise in accordance with the temperature. On hot days, save longer walks and games of catch for the cooler mornings and evenings. Beespecially careful with short-nosed dogs like pugs and bulldogs. Their facial conformation makes it difficult for them to cool their bodies by panting.
  • Don’t chain or tether your dog. It allows no opportunity for exercise and socialization, and when done for long periods of time can lead to behavior problems. Instead, set aside time every day to walk or play ball with your dog.

  • Keep your cat indoors. Though your feline friend may wish to explore the outdoors, cats who are permitted to go outside are at an increased risk of disease and injury from vehicles or other animals.

  • Take care in choosing flea and tick control products, as some can be harmful to pets and children. For a list of chemicals and products to avoid and alternatives to pesticides, visit
  • Dogs and cats are at an increased risk of contracting heartworm during the summer. Transmitted by a bite from an infected mosquito, heartworm disease can be fatal if not treated. Check with your veterinarian for the best schedule for heartworm testing and preventive medication for your pet.
  • Though numerous car commercials depict it as the ultimate joy in a dog’s life, allowing your canine companion to stick his head out the window is asking for trouble. Doing so can subject your pet to injury by flying debris.
  • Never leave your pet unattended in a parked car. On warm days, the temperature in your car can rise to 120 degrees in minutes, even with the windows slightly open. Also, an animal left alone in a car is an open invitation to pet thieves.
  • Dogs should never ride in the back of pick-up trucks, and some states have laws that restrict such transport. If you are forced to make a sudden or evasive driving maneuver, your dog could be thrown from the truck and seriously, or even fatally, injured.