Pet Safety During the Summer

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06/05/2014
Advice on keeping your pets safe during the warmer months.

When the weather begins to warm up in the run up to summer, many of us are preparing for BBQs and trying to catch as much sunshine as possible before the wet weather sets back in. Many of us also see this as a good opportunity to treat their pets to more time outdoors, increasing their exercise and allow them to be involved in more family activities in the sun. It is increasingly important however for sensible pet owners to stay mindful of some of the potential dangers as well where our furry friends are concerned, and ensure they enjoy the sunshine as much as we do.

 

Overheating

During the summer we see a lot of cases coming in to the surgery where pets have been over exposed to the elements.  In some cases pets can develop severe heatstroke.  In order to avoid this we have compiled some top tips for pet owners to ensure their pets stay cool.

  • Make sure pets are not left for long periods in direct sunlight and are allowed shaded areas to stay cool. In cases where pets are allowed into outdoor runs make sure they have access to shelter or are allowed access back into the home when they need to rest.
  • Access to water is essential at all times as dehydration is one of the biggest problems at this time of year.
  • If pets seem to be lethargic, disorientated or are panting excessively, immediately phone the surgery for advice. In the meantime try to cool your pet down by using wet towels or even spraying them with cool water and move them immediately into the shade or indoors. Do not throw freezing cold water over them or this might induce shock.
  • Walk dogs in the morning or evening, ideally before 8am or after 5pm to prevent them from overheating in the hotter parts of the day.

 

How do I know if my pet is suffering from heatstroke?

If you believe your pet is suffering from heatstroke you should seek veterinary advice as soon as possible. Initial symptoms of heatstroke are:

  • Excessive panting
  • Salivating more than usual
  • Distress

In more severe cases this can lead to:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Disorientation
  • Seizures
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Loss of consciousness and even death

 

Travelling with your pet

NEVER leave your dog alone in a parked car. Leaving windows open for them will only help slightly, however cars quickly increase in temperature and become similar to ovens when stood. Dogs pant to cool down and cannot regulate their temperature as well as humans. Without hydration the situation can become very serious, very fast. If you see a dog in a car on a warm day, call the Police on 999. If the police are unable to attend, you should call the RSPCA on their 24-hour cruelty line 0300 1234 999

 

Water Hazards

Be careful to supervise your dogs when swimming in lakes and rivers. Currents can be strong in some areas and also games of fetch may seem overly fun for our pets. Make sure that you give them a rest from time to time and know when they have had enough.

  • Make sure dogs are drinking from fresh water supplies rather than water left standing in paddling pools or the sides of lakes. They can often pick up diseases from such water sources, which include leptospirosis cause by bacteria. We can vaccinate against this disease (see below).
  • If people are fishing be careful not to allow your dog too close. Bait on fish hooks are not only appealing to the catch of the day but also your four legged friend. If a dog swallows a fish hook contact the surgery immediately, but importantly DO NO PULL THE LINE to remove it. Tie the line around your dogs collar if possible to prevent them swallowing more and immediately seek advice.

 

Keep them up to date

Annual vaccinations are very important, especially where pets are outside and potenitally in contact with other animals. Dogs, cats and rabbits require a primary vaccination course when they are young, followed by a booster vaccination every year to keep their immunity at acceptable levels. If you believe your pet may be unvaccinated or out of date please contact us and we can arrange to have them immunised.

 

Bites and stings

If your pet has been bitten, stop any bleeding with a clean cloth. If there is persistent bleeding bring them to the surgery immediately. If the bleeding stops it is still important to make an appointment to see the vet, as many bite wounds become infected and antibiotics may be needed. If a bee or a wasp stings your pet, try to remove the stinger if it is still lodged. You must watch your pet carefully, as it’s tongue, face or eyes could swell and it may be unable to breathe. If this happens, bring your pet to us immediately.

 

Snake Bites

Snake bites can be more common than people think and vets can see a higher number of cases during the summer. The only venomous snake in the UK is the Adder, which injects 1ml of venom on biting an animal, causing 2 puncture wounds. Sometimes the wound will bleed but this may not occur, so make sure to check your pet thoroughly if they show signs of distress. After approximately 20 minutes a snake bite wound will usually become hot and red and possibly swollen. After 6 hours the main effects will start to show, and if not treated this can cause increased swelling and bruising, vomiting and potential blood clots. In sever cases this can even be fatal.

 

Rabbit care

Just with cats and dogs, it is important to ensure that rabbits are kept cool throughout the summer, especially those kept in outdoors runs and hutches. Here are some tips for keeping them happy in the hot weather:

  • Make sure your rabbit is not kept in direct sunlight and make sure they have plenty shaded areas to go to.
  • A few ice cubes in their water bowl can temp them to drink more and stay cool.
  • Mist the rabbit's ears. Rabbits dissipate heat through their ears and misting them will help keep the rabbit cool.
  • Brush out excessive fur and for long-haired rabbits, consider having the hair trimmed to make them more comfortable during the summer.
  • Drinks bottles can be filled with water and frozen. Place these in the rabbit’s hutch so they can lean on these to stay cool.
  • Make sure to provide plenty vegetables in the diet to keep your rabbit hydrated.
  • Take care with rabbits over 5 years old who are not active. They will find it more difficult to stay cool if they do not move around or go to the water bowl as often.

If you believe your rabbit may be suffering from heatstroke DO NOT submerge it in water as this may cause shock. Dampen your rabbits ears with cool water and contact us immediately.

Keep your rabbit clean during the summer – flies can lay eggs on your rabbit which cause ‘flystrike’ and are attracted to faeces that may be present. Clean hutches regularly and use fly repellents such as ‘Rearguard’.