VANCOUVER, May 15, 2009 – "Summer is a beautiful season for both people and their pets, but the hot weather is accompanied by a number of hazards we need to protect our pets from", according to Al Hickey, Western Regional Director of The Humane Society of Canada (HSC).


"Many pets are frightened, even terrified of thunder and lightening,” says Al Hickey. “These frightened animals can run off, get injured or cause damage in their terrified state. Even if they quietly endure these storms, they are still frightened and upset during these displays.”

According to HSC Chairman & CEO Michael O'Sullivan, people have to be particularly patient and understanding with their pets who are frightened of storms. O’Sullivan, who has four dogs and two cats, says planning for your pets’ safety will alleviate considerable suffering and possibly prevent a serious injury or lost animal companion.

"Being aware of when storms are coming and helping our pets through them is very important," states O'Sullivan. "By listening to weather forecasts we can plan for storms. By knowing when storms will occur and being prepared for unexpected storms we can help ensure our best friends comfort and safety."

To assist people in looking after their pets who are frightened of storms and fireworks displays, the Humane Society of Canada offers the following recommendations:

  • Keep pets indoors well before, during and after (for a while) storms.
  • Always ensure that pets have effective identification such as the free personalized tags offered through our Pet Recovery Team, microchips or both. Make sure that your pet's collar fits properly.
  • When outside with your pet, ensure that he/she cannot run off. Put the animal in a pet carrier or have him/her on a leash.
  • Set up a "sanctuary" in your house where your pet will be comfortable and safe. This might be a crate or carrier in an inner room sheltered from the storm. Closing the drapes may also help. You might also want to provide your pet with a safe, favourite item or provide other distractions like turning up the radio or television. If you have pet birds who are affected by storms you might want to keep them in their cage with the cover on.
  • Help your pet deal with storms by taking his/her mind off of the activity. Try playing with your pet. Act normal or upbeat about the situation. Be sympathetic to their situation. Reward appropriate behaviour, but don't praise your pet for any inappropriate behaviours or stress-related behaviours, as you don't want to reinforce fearful behaviour.
  • Stay with your pet (or have someone whose company your pet enjoys stay with your animal companion during these stressful times.)
  • Discuss your pet's phobia with your veterinarian.
  • Always have a quality animal first-aid kit on hand. You can buy one from The HSC by phoning, toll-free, 1-800-641-KIND (5463) or through the Online Adventure Store on our website.

Fireworks Displays

Some of the popular events enjoyed by people of all ages are the fireworks displays. "Unfortunately, most of our animal friends do not share our enthusiasm for these loud, bright, pyrotechnic shows. In fact, many animals are terrified of them," says HSC Chairman & CEO Michael O'Sullivan. "One of our dogs, Chewie, is terrified of fireworks and hides shaking under the bed," he said.

It is a good idea to keep your pets indoors during these displays. By leaving a radio and/or television on along with some lights you can reduce the negative effects that the noisy, bright fireworks may have on your animal companions.

Animals may become separated from their human guardians when they are frightened by fireworks displays and run off. The fortunate animals return home on their own unharmed or they are reunited with their families with the help of humane societies or other caring people. Tragically, some families may never see their animal companions again or their pets are injured in their frantic attempts to avoid fireworks displays.

The Humane Society of Canada would like to warn people of this potentially dangerous situation and to ask them to protect their pets by keeping them inside in a safe, comfortable place during fireworks and other noisy displays. If you live in the country ensure that horses and other farm animals are stabled during fireworks displays.

Sometimes people have large, outdoor, bonfires to go along with the fireworks. If you are going to have a bonfire please follow all safety precautions and regulations and make sure that small animals or birds are not inside the material used for the bonfire. Never set off fireworks near an animal.

Heat Stroke

"Every year numerous pets suffer and even die from the heat," explains Al Hickey. Companion animals who are particularly at risk of heat stroke include those who are tied up or who are left in poorly ventilated areas, such as cars. Some signs of an animal that is suffering from heat stroke include:
  • exaggerated panting;
  • anxious or staring expression;
  • salivating;
  • weakness;
  • lack of coordination;
  • convulsions;
  • muscle tremors;
  • collapse or death.

You can help to protect your animal companion from the heat by ensuring that he/she:
  • always has access to plenty of clean, fresh water in a spill-proof bowl (two or three bowls are even better)
  • is kept in a cool environment with adequate ventilation has good protection from the sun (remember that a shady location will likely soon be in direct sunlight)
  • and cannot get caught on objects which prevent her from getting access to shelter and/or water

Animals who are suffering from heat stroke need to be cooled down. First, remove the affected animal to cooler surroundings and apply cold water to her skin. Allow the animal to rest in a cool spot with small amounts of drinking water and then seek immediate veterinary attention. The best prevention is leaving your pets in the safety and comfort of your home during hot summer days.

Poisonous Plants

There are many plants that are toxic to pets. Some of the plants have a low toxicity while others are very toxic and can result in death. A few common poisonous plants that can be harmful to pets are: buttercup, chokecherry, daffodil, eggplant, foxglove, lily-of-the-valley, philodendron, tulip, rhubarb, English ivy and rhododendron. You can obtain more information on poisonous plants from books, your veterinarian or from the Internet.

Dogs & Pick-up Trucks

As incredible as it sounds, there are still people who allow their dogs to travel in the bed of a pick-up truck. Many dogs are killed or seriously injured when they are tossed about or are thrown or jump from the truck. Other injuries sustained by canines riding in this dangerous environment include burns to the pads of their paws when the floor of the flatbed becomes very hot and injuries to the eyes and ears from wind and grit in the air. People can also be put at risk when dogs are thrown onto the road and into traffic.

Be Prepared (and Prepare Others)

"Even when we are careful, our animal friends sometimes get hurt," said Michael O'Sullivan. It is a good idea to always have the phone number of a veterinarian nearby (including their emergency phone number.) To help people provide care for their pets in emergency situations the Humane Society of Canada has put together a comprehensive first-aid kit. You can order this potentially life saving kit from the Humane Society of Canada by calling our toll-free phone number 1-800-641-KIND or ordering one from our web site at Finally, take the time to inform others as to how they can keep their pets safe. After all, animal welfare is everyone’s business!

CONTACT: Michael O'Sullivan by toll free 1-800-641-KIND or Michael on his cell phone (416) 876-9685 or at via twitter at and on Facebook at:

[For more than 17 years, Al Hickey was the Chief Executive of the BC SPCA and before that headed up the Alberta and BC Chambers of Commerce, and was the Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Vancouver. He has been The HSC Western Regional Director for over 12 years. He has 4 children and 6 grandchildren. For his lifetime of achievement dedicated to helping people, animals and the environment, we have bestowed upon him our prestigious Heroes for Animals Award, shared by only a handful of people and organizations.

A father with two children, and a houseful of dogs and cats, Michael O'Sullivan has worked across Canada and in over 110 countries during the last 40 years helping people, animals and nature.]

The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) works to protect dogs, cats, horses, birds, rabbits and small animals, livestock, lab animals, wildlife and the environment. We carry out hands on programs to help animals and nature, mount rescue operations, expose cruelty through hard hitting undercover investigations, work to pass laws to protect animals, use a multidisciplinary approach, support animal shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centres, and spread the word about how to help animals and nature through humane education.

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