Summer time is a wonderful time; beautiful weather, longer days, time off with the family but it can be potentially deadly for our pets. Here are some of the top hazards, what to look out for and how to help your pet in its hour of need.
Bee & Wasp Stings – Most stings, like with people, are fairly harmless. If the sting is irritated, a baking soda paste can be applied to bee stings or vinegar for wasp stings. However, if your pet is allergic to bees/wasps then they can quickly go into anaphlyactic shock. Pale gums, trouble breathing, wobbliness or collapse are the major warning signs. If they display any of these signs, please contact your vets immediately.
Allergies – Hay fever and grass/pollen allergies are very common during the spring and summer months. The allergies may cause redness, runny eyes, sneezing and excessive scratching/licking of areas. If your pet excessively licks/scratches an area, it may become infected which can cause numerous additional problems. Thoroughly washing your pet in clean water after walks can help to reduce the irritation but some may require medication if the allergy is causing a severe problem. If so, contact your vets.
Heat Stroke, Sunburn & Hot Cars – Hot cars and pets are a recipe for disaster. Your pets have no escape from the heat as they are trapped in a confined space and can quickly be overcome with dehydration and heat stroke which can often be fatal. Overdoing outdoor activities such as playing/running in the warm weather can also cause heat stroke as your pets are unable to sweat like us; excessive panting, vomiting, agitation/unsettled behaviour and collapse are key signs of heat stroke. Be sure to carry fresh, cool water at all times during the warmer months for your furry companion, avoid walks during the middle of the day when it is the hottest and seek shade during walks to reduce the risk. If your pet is showing any signs of heat stroke, try to gradually cool them with cool water/wet towels and fans and seek veterinary advice. It’s not just the sun’s heat that causes a problem as, just like with people, animals can get sunburnt as well. White and light coloured breeds of all animals are more at risk of sunburn and should be kept out of direct sunlight during the middle of the day. If you are going to walk or let your pet out whilst the sun is out, apply a small amount of child safe factor 30-50 to areas with less fur such as ears, nose and belly and reapply after swimming.
Poisonous Plants– From your walk to your back garden and even your coffee table, poisonous plants are everywhere and knowing which commons ones should be avoided at all costs may save you from heartbreak. Flowers such as azaleas and lilies can be fatal for cats and dogs. All parts of the lilies are toxic but especially the pollen as ingestion can cause kidney failure in cats. Azaleas are extremely toxic to both dogs and cats causing vomiting, diarrhoea, blindness and comas in both species. Flower bulbs such as daffodils, tulips and hyacinths are extremely toxic to both dogs and cats and should be kept out of reach at all times. Other plants such as foxtails are prone to causing issues with dogs during the summer season as their barbed nature allows them to penetrate into the body which, depending on the area, can lead to a whole host of problems. Some allotment and backyard grown produce can be equally as toxic as flowers. Tomato leaves are extremely toxic to dogs but the tomato itself is harmless and a nutritious snack for your pet if they’ll eat them. Po-ta-toes, boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew and they’re completely harmless to your dog as the solanine is broken down during the cooking process. Raw potatoes especially green ones and potato skins can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, fever or hypothermia, weakness, seizures, trembling and paralysis to name a few symptoms. Keeping plants out of reach of animals, disposing of flowers, left over tomato and potato produce in an outside/closed bin and checking your pets after a walk can help to avoid any unfortunate incidents but if you suspect or know they have eaten any, contact your vets immediately.
Fertilizers, Pesticides, & Herbicides – Pesticides and herbicides are designed to poison and they don’t discriminate between plants and animals if they come into contact with both. Ingestion of them can cause seizures and tremors so any suspected ingestion should immediately be treated by a vet. Fertilizers can contain iron and nitrogen which can be toxic to dogs and cats if ingestions but others fertilizers can contain blood and bone matter which can cause a blockage as they bind together. Avoid letting your pets into a newly fertilized/pesticide treated area for at least 24 hours.
BBQs – Fire, food and hungry pets are never going to be a good mix. Allowing your pets to wander around near a lit, in use BBQ massively increasing the risk of them being burnt and scalded by flying oil or dropped food. Ingesting BBQ food such as sausages and burgers can cause a severe stomach upset due to the fatty nature of them whereas kebab skewers, bones and corn on the cob can cause obstruction or perforation to the gastrointestinal system.
Water, Seas & Rivers – A refreshing dip during the summer seems like a good idea but unsupervised dogs can quickly get into difficulty in deep waters or getting swept up in fast currents. Pick swallower rivers and streams to play in or make sure your recall with your dog is up to scratch to prevent them from disappearing into hazardous waters and be sure to thoroughly wash them off after their trip as chlorine, salt water and bacteria can be harmful to your pet. DO NOT try to rescue your dog yourself if they get swept away, you will put yourself at risk of drowning. Floaties can be bought for dogs who aren’t the strongest of swimmers so they resurface in the water but never force a reluctant dog into the water as they will become distressed, panic and can injure themselves.
Thunder– Warmer days and nights mean an increase in thunderstorms. Pets that are scared of thunder and lightning should be kept inside in a secure, safe environment to make them feel less anxious. Keep an eye on weather forecasts for any expected storms and make sure that pets on anxiety medication have a supply to hand or ask your vets for plant based, over the counter anxiety medication.
Sticks – Throwing and fetching sticks seems like a cliche dog and owner activity but stick injuries are a huge problem all year round but especially in summer. Dogs running and tripping with sticks in their mouths tends to leave them with injuries to the back of the throat from grazing to large perforations of the throat, some of which can’t be fixed, resulting in euthanasia. Dogs catching sticks also risk injuries to the face and eyes that can require extensive surgery. Plastic, rope or Kong toys as well as tennis sized balls are a better option to keep playtime safe but fun.
Summer is a great opportunity for you and your pet to get out and about and hopefully these tips will help prevent you from having to interrupt your places and make a detour to the vets.