Here are a few ways to help make sure you and your pets have a super, safe time together this summer.

Heatstroke and dehydration
Animals develop heatstroke if their core body-temperature rises above normal levels (hyperthermia) and they lose their ability to cool down. Animals can’t get rid of excess heat through sweating and their fur coats (which are great for insulation in the winter) make it difficult for them to lose heat through their skin.

The symptoms of heatstroke and dehydration are:

  • Dry pale gums
  • Bright red tongue
  • Excessive panting
  • Agitated (restless)behaviour
  • Drooling
  • Increased heart rate
  • Vomiting

To reduce the risk of your pet developing heatstroke, allow free access to clean, fresh drinking water. Exercise your dog during the coolest part of the day; try and get out early in the morning or late evening. Carry water and a small bowl on longer walks.

Be extra cautious if your dog is: brachycephalic (has a short-nose), elderly, overweight or has dark fur. These factors increase your dog’s risk of developing heatstroke.

If you suspect your dog has heatstroke, or is dehydrated, move into the shade and offer small amounts of water to drink. Use cool water to dampen your dog’s coat- avoid very cold water as this can cause shock. Use a cool, damp towel to cover your dog. Call us, or your nearest vet, immediately and ask for your dog to be checked as a matter of urgency.

Ticks are commonly found in woodland and grassland which is used to graze livestock. These small parasites are blood feeders; they attach to an animal’s skin to feed. As they feed their egg-shaped bodies expand and turn a dark browny-red colour.

If you find a tick, and are confident to do so, remove it immediately with a tick-removal hook. These handy tools are available from your local practice. Avoid squeezing the tick’s body or leaving the head behind as this can cause an infection. Please call us if you’d like help removing a tick from your pet. We can also advise you about the most suitable tick-repellent product to use on your pet.

Bee or wasp stings
Pets are often keen to ‘investigate’ bees and wasps which often results in a sting. The sting site might become swollen and itchy but it’s very rare for animals to develop a severe allergic (anaphylactic) reaction. Common symptoms of stings include:

  • Drooling
  • Whining
  • Swelling
  • Pawing at the face, or mouth
  • Biting at the site of the sting
  • Holding up their stung paw
  • Hives (small bumps along the skin near to the sting)

Uncommonly, stings near the nose or mouth can affect an animal’s breathing; call us for advice if you’re concerned about your pet.

Keep your pet’s fur short and well-groomed to help prevent heatstroke. Remove any matted fur, especially around their bottom, to eliminate the risk of flystrike. Flies can lay eggs in the fur which then hatch; these maggots eat into surrounding skin causing painful, open wounds.

Fur acts as a great sunblock but less hairy areas of your pet’s body can still become sunburnt. Dogs and cats with paler fur are more prone to sunburn.

Barbecues and alfresco dining
There's nothing more enjoyable than cooking up a barbecue feast and enjoying your favourite tipple outdoors, just be careful your pet doesn’t join in! Be mindful of hazards including toxic food and drink, hot surfaces and sharp kebab skewers.

Some food and drink that should be kept out of reach of your pet include:

  • Food containing bones
  • Food containing seeds
  • Grapes
  • Raw garlic
  • Raw onion
  • Raisins
  • Corn on the cob
  • Chocolate
  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Coffee/coffee beans
  • Teas/tea bags

Swimming pools, sea, rivers, and lakes
Not all dogs are good swimmers so be cautious near open water, especially deep water with strong currents. If your dog gets into difficulty, don’t put yourself at risk attempting a rescue. Sadly, people drown each year trying to rescue their pet.

If you’re introducing your dog to water, consider using a dog-flotation device. You could let them get their paws wet in a paddling pool before moving onto deeper water. Rinse your dog’s fur after a dip to remove salt, chlorine or bacteria.

Keep a look out for blue-green algae as this is toxic to dogs. Don’t let your dog swim in, or drink water, which you suspect is contaminated. Contact us straight away if your dog has been in contact with algae.

Hot pavements and artificial grass
Hot pavements can burn your pet’s paws. If it’s too hot for you to stand on with bare feet, it’s too hot for your pet. Try the seven-second rule; if you can place the back of your hand on the surface for seven seconds or more, then it’s safe for your pet to walk on. If your hand gets too hot, it’s too hot for your pet.

To prevent your pet from burning his/ her paws, try the following:

  • Walk in the cooler hours of the day – early morning or late evening
  • If you’re out in the midday heat, try and walk on the grass where possible
  • Clean and check your dog's paws regularly

Fertiliser and pesticides
Many fertilisers cause gastric (stomach) irritation if your pet eats them. It’s usually dogs who are affected because of their scavenging nature. The symptoms of fertiliser toxicity include: diarrhoea, vomiting, salivating (drooling) and a painful abdomen.

Pesticides can cause muscle tremors (shaking) and even seizures (fits). If you notice a farmer spraying his/her fields then consider an alternative route for a few days and rinse your dog’s paws well when you get home.

Flowers and Plants
Many plants and flowers are toxic if eaten by our pets. Depending on the plant, your pet might develop a range of symptoms from an upset stomach to more serious conditions such as kidney failure.

The most common harmful plants are:

  • Elder:The whole plant, including the elderberries, are poisonous for both cats and dogs.
  • Lilies:Contain a toxin that can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, collapsing, fits, heart problems and renal failure (cats).
  • Foxglove: Both the seeds and the leaves of a foxglove plant contain a toxin which can cause heart problems, sickness, diarrhoea, fits and collapse.
  • Geranium: The whole geranium plant is poisonous to both dogs and cats.
  • Hydrangea: Parts of a hydrangea plant contain cyanide which is toxic to both dogs and cats.

Never leave your dog in the car on a hot day, even for a few minutes. Heatstroke develops quickly and can be fatal.  Passers-by are encouraged to dial 999 if they notice a dog trapped inside a car. The police will act to release the dog – even if that means damaging the vehicle.

If you’re concerned about your pet and would like further advice, please contact us. We’re always here to help, however warm it gets!

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