Burmese cat Stinkerbelle plays with Skeletor, a bearded dragon.

Dear Readers: As summer approaches, there could be some potential dangers your pet might face that you should be aware of. Here are a few hints from our friends at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' Animal Poison Control Center:

• Do not apply insect repellent or sunscreen to your pet unless it is labeled for use on animals. If your pet tries to lick it off, it could vomit or have diarrhea.

• Don't use citronella candles, insect coils or other insect-control oils around your pets. These could cause stomach and nervous-system problems.

• Be sure to keep alcoholic drinks away from pets. Alcohol can be poisonous if ingested, causing weakness, depression or worse.

• When lighting the barbecue, make sure the matches and lighter fluid are out of reach of pets. If swallowed, matches could cause breathing problems or, in extreme cases, kidney disease.

• Don't use a flea treatment prescribed for dogs on your cat! Though perfectly safe for your dog, even a small amount could be deadly for your cat.

• And always be sure to have plenty of cold water and a cool, shady place for your pet while outside during hot weather. —Heloise

Dear Heloise: I walk the dog and pick up after her — and I also pick up after others who toss junk and garbage around. This makes the neighborhood so much nicer and gives me a handy use for the plastic grocery bags. —Pat Holliday, Cape Coral, Fla.

Dear Readers: Monica Anderson of Dallas sent a photo of her Burmese cat, Stinkerbelle, and a bearded dragon, Skeletor. They look like they are kissing. Monica says, "They both live in Dallas and became friends when I gave Skeletor's dad temporary shelter while he was waiting for an affordable apartment to become available." —Heloise

Dear Heloise: How often should I clean my bird's cage? I do change the paper on the bottom every day, but what about a more thorough cleaning?

—Melody Alberts, Cibolo, Texas

Melody, avian specialists recommend thoroughly cleaning your bird cage at least once a week. Wash out food and water dishes, perches and other areas as needed. Your bird will appreciate the clean quarters! #151;Heloise


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