Summer means doors are opening and closing constantly and daylight lasts a long time. The opportunity for a pet to get out of the house or yard unnoticed is very real.

When I was a kid, a dog or cat could walk for miles without anybody taking notice, but in this day and age, any dog or cat walking the street is usually picked up right away. So it's very important pets have proper ID tags on their collars. If you have a metal ID, it should be replaced every year as the letters wear off.

Microchips are a great means of identification, but whoever finds your pet must take it someplace that has a microchip reader, which can Your name and phone number on the pet's collar can save hours or days of worry.

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Question: My 2-year-old Yorkie has one ear that is upright and one ear that flops over. It's been this way since she was a puppy. The breeder said the other ear would stand up as she grew, but it never did. I read if the groomer can trim the hair off the back and the edge of the ear and tape moleskin inside it, it may end up standing up straight like the other one.

Answer: Yorkies are a breed with ears that stand up naturally. If the ears do flop as puppies, they should prick up as the dog gets older, just as the breeder said. If your Yorkie's ears are unusually large or the fur on the ear is very long, the weight will keep pulling the ear down and eventually the cartilage will harden and the ear will stay like this. If the fur on the ears had been trimmed when the dog was a puppy, the floppy ear might have pricked up naturally and the cartilage would have been strong enough to keep the ears up, even when the fur grew back. However, your dog is now 2. I suspect the ear is not going to stand up, no matter what you do at this point, but you will never know unless you try.

Trimming the fur on the outside of the ear and putting a bit of moleskin inside it to hold it up is not a surgical procedure and will not hurt the dog. If your groomer can do it, you have nothing to lose.

Question: We have had a 5-inch-long Russian tortoise for the past six months. He is very active. I was wondering if we could put him in a pen outdoors for the summer. He would have a lot more room than he does in the fish tank. If this is a good idea, what should we make the pen out of?

Answer: Your tortoise should be kept outside night and day only if you can build a very strong pen that is totally raccoon-proof. Raccoons love to eat turtles and tortoises. This means the pen needs a secure cover, and you need to extend the edges of the pen under the ground for quite a way to be sure that a raccoon cannot dig underneath it. The tortoise can dig as well, and it seems when they are in such a pen, all they try to do is escape. The sides of the pen need to be solid or of a very small wire mesh. If the wire mesh has openings larger than a half-inch, the tortoise will get his head or a leg stuck in it. Such a pen is very hard to build from scratch. Just put the tortoise outside to get some exercise and eat grass in a temporary pen for a few hours under your watch.

I use a cheap wading pool and cut out the bottom. That leaves a circle of the plastic sides about 14 inches high. Then I just place that on the lawn in a shady spot and allow my tortoises to enjoy themselves when we are outside. When we go back in the house, we bring in the tortoises.

Question: How hot is too hot for my house during the summer months when nobody is home? We have a dog and a cat and an African gray parrot. With the price of electricity, I would like to know how cool to keep my house so they feel comfortable.

Answer: Cats have it the easiest in the summer because they are clever enough to find cool areas such as the bathtub or a tile floor. Caged pets, such as birds, cannot escape the situation.

I have my air-conditioner set at 80 degrees and my pets do fine. Just put out enough clean water to last the day.


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