Well, summer is definitely (finally?) here! Most of us - and our pets! - love the warmer weather, but it does bring its own challenges and particular problems. Here are a few tips to help keep your pet fit and well, cool and comfortable in the hot weather!
Heat Stroke is, of course, a big worry in the higher temperatures and is an extremely serious and, sadly, potentially fatal condition. Although all dogs are at risk, some pets are in particular danger:
- Long, thick, or double-coated dogs, e.g. Huskies, as heat is trapped all too efficiently by their coats.
- Short snouted breeds, e.g. Pugs or Bulldogs, as they struggle to cool down efficiently.
- Overweight dogs of any breed, as the fat traps heat but also makes it harder to pant and cool down.
To prevent problems, avoid exercising in the midday heat, and make sure they don’t over-exert themselves, especially if it’s humid. Make sure they always have access to shade and fresh, cool water. If you’re concerned, move them into the cool shade, offer water, and call us immediately for advice. Heatstroke kills, fast, without appropriate first aid and treatment.
Remember the sunscreen! Many cats are of course sun-worshippers, which isn’t usually a problem… unless they have white ears or pink noses. These areas are vulnerable to sunburn because the thinner hair and paler skin allow the ultraviolet radiation to damage the underlying cells. Sunburn is painful itself, but can also trigger malignant skin cancers in pets, just like people. To protect your pet, in sunny weather apply a pet-safe waterproof sunscreen to the vulnerable areas (ears, noses, bellies in thin coated dogs). While it’s easier said than done sometimes, it really will protect them.
Grass seeds are another summer problem. The sharp awns of meadow grasses easily stick in the coat, especially of dogs. They then migrate and become lodged in the sensitive tissues between the toes, down the ears, even in the eyes and nose. Once in, they tend to burrow deeper because of their barbed shape, which is very painful and potentially dangerous. Always carefully groom your dog after a walk, and make sure there aren’t any sharp seeds or tender spots.
Beware the BBQ! Nice weather and long, warm evenings mean lots of people break out the barbeque. Dogs (and occasionally cats!) then have a lovely time hoovering up the leftovers… however, these can be harmful, or even deadly. Tummy upsets from too much rich food are messy, but bones and sweetcorn cobs can cause a blocked intestine that needs emergency surgery. Used kebabs can even puncture the stomach; and many barbeque favourites are actually toxic to pets, such as onions from the hot dogs. Keep pets away from the barbeque with their own (safe!) snacks!
Allergy Alert… if your pet has a tendency to allergies, the summer can be a nightmare. All the flowers and grasses thrive in the warm weather, releasing clouds of pollen that your pet’s immune system overreacts to. Dogs and cats will often break out in itchy skin rashes, especially on the feet, tummy and ears; while cats sometimes develop “hay-fever” type symptoms (allergic rhinitis) which are not necessarily caused by the pollen, but are often exacerbated by it. If your pet is affected, please come and see us - there are lots of treatments available to mitigate the symptoms. And nowadays, we can sometimes even address the underlying causes.
Also… don’t forget to stay up to date with anti-parasite treatments! Not only do fleas, in particular, love the warmer weather, but every bite can worsen an allergic pet’s already itchy skin.
So, enjoy the summer, have fun, and keep your pets safe! Remember, we’re always here to help, so if you’d like any more information or advice on avoiding summer hazards, please do ring us, or pop in and ask a member of staff. If you have any concerns on any of the topics raised in this blog, call us on 01908 611637.
Please be advised that our Saturday opening is changing from the previous 33 years of 9am-5pm, to 9am-2pm from August 2019. We have found that routine appointments are not really needed on Saturday afternoons as most people are out for the day or enjoying their weekend, and staying open 9am-2pm enables most people to come to Astonlee when they want to for their vet appointments, nurse appointments and to collect supplies. This also means that our vet and nurse team can attend to emergencies in the afternoon continuing our 24-hour service without the occasional interruption from non-urgent enquiries. Our Sunday morning surgery 11 am to 12 noon will continue unchanged.