Ever hear of the dog days of summer?

Too hot for people, and probably too hot for the family pet too. August is the month when steamy weather, vacation travel, and family activities often affect both cats and dogs. Here are some tips from the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association to help keep your pet safe and healthy this month:

Q: Do dogs and cats get sunburn?

A: Some dogs do get sunburned. Just like fair-skinned people, white-haired dogs are sensitive to sun. White cats and cats with white ears and noses are very susceptible to sunburn, so keep your cats and dogs inside more on very sunny days, and talk to your veterinarian about the occasional use of sunscreens.

Q: Should I let my cat out at night?

A: Many cats beg to go outside at night in the summer—even cats that seem very happy to remain indoors all winter long. But cats are at greater risk for disease and injury when they are outside, especially at night. If you feel you must let your cat go outside, be sure that he is up to date on all vaccinations.

Q: Can my dog get sick from a bee sting?

A: Lots of dogs snap at bees and flies that buzz around. Sometimes, the bee might sting your dog in the lip, resulting in some local swelling. If your dog allows you to put some ice on the swelling, it will often go away. Sometimes, however, a bee bite may result in an allergic or anaphylactic reaction. If your pet has extreme swelling on his entire face, lips, and eyelids, call the vet immediately. Your dog may need an emergency trip to the animal hospital.

Q: What does my pet need to travel with me in the car?

A: If you have a cat, she should travel in a carrier, both for her safety and yours. Think what would happen if she ran away when you opened the car door or rolled down the window at a tollbooth. If you have a dog, it would be wise to have him wear a seatbelt harness.

Both dogs and cats should have collars with identification tags, or a micro-chip, which is permanent identification. When you travel, pack fresh water, your pet’s regular food and bowls, as well as medications. Medical records, including vaccination records, should be with you in case you need to board your pet or take him to another veterinary hospital for an emergency. Also carry a recent photo with you in case your pet gets lost.

Q: How can I keep my dog calm during a thunderstorm?

A: Many dogs (and cats) are afraid of loud noises, such as thunder and fireworks. Some just need reassurance, but some are too upset for a few calm words and some petting. If your dog is very afraid during summer storms, talk to your veterinarian, who may prescribe medication, behavior modification, or training tips to help calm him down.

Q: Can I bring my dog to the family barbecue?

A: If you decide to take your dog to a family picnic, be vigilant about what he eats, and be on the lookout for relatives who may feed him food he shouldn’t have. Don’t let Fido get his paws on greasy fat-laden barbecue food, which can upset his stomach and digestive system, and watch out for corn cobs that can cause blockages, and skewers that can puncture intestines.

If you need a vet, visit the Find a Veterinarian page at the website of the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association.