Brian Baer / Special to The Bee

Home and garden checklist

Published: Saturday, Jul. 13, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 10CALIFORNIA LIFE

You think it's hot? Try wearing a fur coat.

Summer can be killer for our four-footed companions. Dogs and cats need a way to cool off – especially when the mercury hits triple digits.

The Sacramento chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals urges pet owners to be extra considerate of their furry friends. Dogs can burn their paws on hot pavement. They need shade and a way to cool off.

The Sacramento SPCA offers these tips to help keep pets comfortable and healthy during these dog days of summer:

• Make sure your pets always have access to fresh, cool water.

• Limit outdoor playtime to necessary walks your pets may need. Exercise very early in the day or in the evening after the weather cools down.

• While your pets are outdoors, make sure they have access to shade or other cooling options, such as play pools filled with cool water.

• Remember that pavement is hot-hot-hot! Don't linger on the asphalt.

• Never leave your pet in a parked car on a hot, sunny day; it can become an oven in minutes – even in the shade.

• Know the signs of heat stroke and provide immediate relief if your pets exhibit any of the following: excessive panting; salivation or drooling; vomiting; anxious or staring expression; or fast pulse rate and high body temperature.

• If your dog exhibits any signs of heat stroke, immediately soak him or her in cool water. Simply getting the coat wet is not enough and can work to trap heat rather than to relieve it.

If these efforts don't relieve your pet's symptoms, call your veterinarian immediately.

For more tips, click on


• Make the most of cool mornings. Do yardwork early in the day. Keep yourself hydrated.

• Water your garden early, too, preferably before 8 a.m. Mulch around plants to help conserve moisture, but don't let the mulch mound around stems or trunks to avoid crown rot.

• Tomatoes, peppers and eggplants are at risk of blossom-end rot. This malady is due to low levels of calcium available for fruit making, usually as a consequence of inconsistent moisture levels.

The rot starts out as a brown spot on the flower end of the fruit. As the fruit grows, the spot becomes a tough, black lesion. (The rest of the fruit is still edible.) The cure? Keep soil moisture as even as possible – not easy during heat waves. While fruiting, tomato plants need about one gallon of water per day.

• Prune spring-flowering shrubs now, then leave them alone as they start to set next year's buds. Non-blooming hedges also can be trimmed.

• Remove spent flowers from roses and other shrubs so they will continue blooming throughout the summer into fall.

• Do your camellia or azalea leaves look yellow? That may be sign of an iron deficiency. Apply some chelated iron.

– Debbie Arrington

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