The blossom is all but gone and as the days get longer we are reminded of the lovely(ish!) summer weather. Unfortunately, along with all the delights of summer, come many hazards for our pets. By the end of this blog we hope you will be aware of all the hazards and how you can be sure you can make the summer just as enjoyable and safe for your pet as possible.
The summer heat is the most well-known hazard in the summer. Heatstroke due to dogs being left in hot cars is very commonly talked about in the media – but this is not the only risk. It goes without saying, never leave any pet in a car – it doesn’t matter if you left the window open. Is your pet’s life worth the risk?
Other ways to protect your pets from the heat is making sure they have a shady spot if they are outdoors. Active cooling can be used as well, like freezing bottles of water – rabbits especially like these. Getting into the habit of checking greenhouses before you close them ensures no stowaways will get trapped and overheat. Not walking your dog or letting your cat out in the hottest part of the day reduces the risk of heatstroke. When they are exercising their body temperature increase so if it is hot outside then they can overheat easily. It is best to take them out in the early morning or late evening once the heat of the day has subsided.
Their paws can also get burned on hot pavements – they don’t wear shoes! If you are not sure, go outside barefoot – you will soon know if the pavement is burning hot.
Flystrike – rabbits
Calling all rabbit owners – preventing this should be priority one with your rabbit. Flystrike is caused by flies laying eggs on dirty/moist areas of your rabbit (usually around the back end!). The eggs hatch and the maggots eat away at the flesh. This is very painful and can be easily prevented.
Preventing this horrible disease is a case of checking the back end of your rabbit every day and ensuring it is clean and dry. The flies are attracted to dirty back ends so not having these removes the problem. If you notice any maggots at all, bring them straight in. Catching it early is key to being able to treat it.
Grass seeds are designed to stick to the fur of animals to help the seeds spread over a long distance. In the summer there are many of these, especially if you live rurally. As well as penetrating the skin from the fur, they can also be inhaled or get stuck in the nose or ears of our pets.
Unfortunately we cannot get rid of this risk for our pets completely, especially if they have been running though long grass. So, after walks you need to check their coat all over and remove any grass seeds before they cause problems.
Watch out for them suddenly behaving strangely – such as sneezing a lot or shaking their head or licking their feet. In this case you need to bring them in as soon as possible, especially if you have found other seeds in their coat. The sooner you remove a grass seed the less damage it can do.
These are a lovely summer treat. But there are a few things we need to do to keep our pets safe when we are enjoying a good barbeque. Start with careful storage of meat or leftovers, dogs love the smell of a barbeque and will often do anything to get their paws on a tasty treat. If there is any meat with bones or skewers in it, then this must be kept where they can definitely not get it. Skewers and chicken bones can cause big problems if they are ingested – they can splinter and damage the gut, which can be life threatening.
If you are taking your pet on holiday with you make sure you have plenty of food and any medication they require for the whole trip. When travelling, take regular breaks where you let them out of the car. There are lots of service stations that have paths specifically for giving your dog a short walk when you stop. If you are going a long way always take things to deal with car sickness. While they may be alright with short car rides, they might still be sick if they are on a longer journey. Finally, always secure your pet in the car – either in a crate or fastening them to the seatbelt with a lead. This is designed to keep you all safe while you travel.
Remember if you are going abroad and your pet is joining you, their passport and rabies vaccinations must be up to date.
If your pet is going on their own holiday to a cattery or kennels, there are many things you can do to make this as nice and safe as possible. Getting them up to date with vaccinations, including kennel cough in dogs, is an easy way to safeguard them against most diseases they may come into contact with. Flea and worm treatment would always be recommended. You don’t want them bringing home little friends, and these places have many animals so it is easy to pick them up.
These little blood suckers can lay up to 50 eggs a day and can soon create a massive infestation in your house. In the summer they can survive outdoors, so your dog and cat are more likely to pick them up. Regular flea treatment is the only way to ensure that your pet will not bring them home. If your pet does have fleas, then unfortunately this is just the tip of the iceberg. The eggs, larvae and pupae all live in the environment and they especially like dark places, such as deep in the carpet or cracks/crevices in furniture.
Many flea products also protect against ticks. In the summer months mainly, these can jump onto your pet and feed. Whilst feeding they can transmit diseases to your pet. By treating your pet with a product that protects against ticks and, after walks, checking their coats for any ticks, you are protecting your pet the best that you can. If you find a tick on your pet, either immediately remove it safely or bring them straight into us to have it removed. It is imperative that a tick remover is used, otherwise the mouthparts can be left in the skin.
Have a good summer, and stay safe!