Keeping Pets Cool During the Summer

Dr. John Lupo of the Malibu Vet Clinic examines a canine patient.

With the dog days of summer approaching, it’s natural to want to kick back, take in the Malibu view and have a trusted pet companion at one’s side.

But with hot summer comes the concern over pet health, and a few local animal care experts offer sage advice to help prevent illness and prepare and protect pets in the hot months to come.


Even if they’re just “going to be a minute” running into a store or post office, pet owners greatly risk their pet’s health by leaving them in a car.

“No animal should be left unattended in any vehicle for any amount of time because it is just not safe,” said Dr. Dana DePerno, a veterinarian with Malibu Coast Animal Hospital. 

Owners should make sure pets have plenty of water to drink and carry a water bowl, and keep pets out of the sun for long periods of time.

Use sunscreen to protect skin, especially if fur is short or shaved. If a pet starts panting heavily, vomiting or drooling, cool them down at once and get medical help immediately. 

Paw pad injuries and prevention

It may not be something that crosses the typical pet owner’s mind, but walking on hot concrete and even hot beach sand can result in serious paw injuries. 

Look out for foxtail plants, too. The grasses have pointed, barbed seed heads that easily adhere to fur. The needles can lead to severe infection, pain and death. Dr. DePerno said the needles can become embedded between a pet’s toes and migrate up their legs. Owners should inspect paws and ears, especially after a hike. 

Rattlesnake vaccines

Warning signs for rattlesnakes are posted at most parks in Malibu, however, the venomous rattlers occupy residential neighborhoods as well. 

Pet owners could end up paying thousands of dollars to treat an unvaccinated pet if they are bit by a rattlesnake. So, instead of waiting and hoping it doesn’t happen, owners can be proactive about getting their pets vaccinated. Vaccinations run about $88.

“A rattlesnake bite can be deadly and very painful for your pet,” Dr. DePerno said. 

Preventing dog bites

Almost 90 % of fatal dog bites involve a child being left alone. 

Dr. John Lupo from the Malibu Vet Clinic said, “Never, ever leave any child alone unsupervised.”  

“No one should ever approach a dog while he is  eating or sleeping as well,” he added. 

It is a great idea for owners to seek professional training for their pets. Last, but not least, never tease a pet. 

Fourth of July fireworks 

Independence Day can be a stressful time for many animals. When pets are scared, the first thing they usually do is run. 

“We see a lot of pets getting hit by cars,” said DePerno. She recommends people keep their pets indoors the entire holiday week and/or weekend. In addition, DePerno said sedatives can be prescribed if necessary. Another option would be a thunder jacket. Thunder jackets do not require a prescription and can be  purchased at Pacific Coast Pets. 

“These jackets wrap tightly around your pet and they give pets a feeling of security,” said Pacific Coast Pets sales associate P.J. Dalton.