Keeping pets at a safe temperature during the hot months

When left at home, dogs will suffer in

When left at home, dogs will suffer in temperatures in excess of 85 degrees. (Credit: AP)

Q: Our English springer spaniel has a bad case of fleas again. We got him last summer, and we couldn't get rid of the fleas until the winter and cold weather. We don't want to bomb the house. We use Frontline. We have used Advantage. We vacuum almost daily with a bagless vacuum so we can dump the dirt after each use. We comb him daily with a flea comb dipped in soapy water. We use tea tree oil on his collar. We give him baths with a special shampoo. We wash bedding. Is there anything we can do?--Gail Carraher, Malverne

A: If the Frontline or Advantage is not working, then I suspect that you are not applying it properly. I've found that these top spot flea and tick products work very well if applied properly.

All of the liquid that is in the little applicator tube must hit the dog's skin and that rarely happens when you squeeze it out onto just one spot on the back of the dog's neck. Any of the liquid that runs off the dog's skin and onto the fur is just wasted, and so the dog does not get the proper dose and the product does not work as it is intended to.

PHOTOS: Famous TV dogs | Your pet photos | Adorable animals around the world | Most popular dog breeds | Animals on the loose

MORE: Mark Morrone's columns | Pet health

You do not have to apply it to just one area of the dog. Spread the fur on the back of the dog's neck and squeeze out just enough of the liquid to cover the exposed skin. Then go down the neck a couple of inches and spread the fur again and apply more liquid onto the skin and keep repeating until you have seen all the liquid actually hit the skin of the dog. You may find that it takes five or six applications to have all the liquid come into contact with skin and not fur.

Q: With the intense heat that we have been having, my boyfriend and I really do not know how cool to keep our house during the day while we are at work. We have three cats and two Chihuahuas. With the cost of electricity so high, keeping the A/C on all day is a luxury, but we want to do what is best for our pets. When I was a kid, we did not have A/C at all in the summer, but all our windows and doors were open all day and all night. That is not an option for us now. --Beth Adams, Uniondale

A: Animals adapt much better to cold than to heat, and your problem is common. Cats are pretty good about finding a cool spot and, as long as they have plenty of fresh water, they can usually be found curling up in a porcelain bathtub or behind a toilet. Dogs will suffer, though, so if you have to keep the windows closed, keeping the A/C on is a must.

You do not have to set it at the highest level if you are not home. Set it so that the temperature in the house does not get higher then 85 degrees. The airlines agree that no dogs should be shipped via air cargo when the temperature is above 85 as anything over that causes the dogs to be in extreme discomfort.

Q:  When I went to fill up my bird bath in the back of my yard the other day, I noticed about a bazillion mosquito larvae in the water that was left in it. I do not need my elderly father to catch West Nile virus, so I quickly dumped it all out and let it dry. But I would like to know if there is anything that I can put in the water of the bird bath to kill the mosquito larvae and yet not hurt the birds that want to drink and bathe in it. --Helen Wilson, Springfield Gardens

A: There are some chemicals and products that will do the job. Even a few drops of bleach will take care of mosquitoes in a bird bath. However, I imagine that the birds drinking that water will be affected in one way or another.

Wild birds have a hard time finding water if there are no natural water sources. When sprinklers are on in the morning, they try to drink from them, but it always looks so pathetic to see a robin or a mockingbird running wet blades of grass through its bill to get the water clinging to it.

Many people have fish ponds in their backyard, but unless it has a small stream attached to it, birds usually do not feel safe enough to drink right from it. That is why bird baths are so important. It takes a couple of days for the mosquito larvae to pupate into an adult mosquito. So if you just dump out the birdbath every other day, scrub with a bristle brush and refill it with fresh water, that will take care of the mosquito problem.

When the temperature is in the 90s, the water in the bird bath will most likely evaporate every day, anyway, so you are going to be maintaining it every day regardless of when the birds need it the most.