Turning up the heat on 5 hazards of summer

Published: Saturday July 15 2017 by Clair Loding

summer dog picture

As the weather begins to warm up, summer is a great time for holidays, kid’s parties and lots and lots of ice cream! However as the temperature rises so do the potential hazards for your pet. Below are the top 5 things that you should be aware of as a pet owner:

Heat Stroke

Dogs are not able to eliminate heat like we can, and of course even in summer are still wearing their fur coat! Dogs will eliminate heat by panting and sweating through their pads on their feet, when this is not enough dogs start to overheat and their body temperature rises.  The first sign of heat stroke is excessive and rapid panting with thick sticky saliva. Dogs with heat stroke are often dizzy, sometimes collapsed or weak, their gums are often bright red or pale in colour and they very quickly become shocked or unconscious.  Dogs with heat stroke need to be cooled down immediately with cold water, they should be seen by a vet urgently who will continue to cool the dog down, monitor there temperature and put them on intravenous fluids. In some cases, heat stroke can cause further complications. Prevention of heat stroke is relatively straight forward.  Walking dogs first thing in the morning or last thing at night, so during the coolest part of the day. Even on a cloudy day, never leaving a dog in car. Cars heat up quickly and dogs can overheat within just 15 minutes left in a car. Keeping dogs out of areas such as conservatories and greenhouses, using a fan or air conditioning unit in the house.  Ensuring they have access to fresh water at all times. Keep long haired dogs clipped short in the summer months.  Some dogs enjoy playing and splashing in a paddling pool (supervised at all times of course) and providing a wet towel for them to lay on or a cooling jacket may help. Any dog can overheat, even young, fit and healthy ones but the higher risk patients are those with heavy fur coats, overweight or brachycephalic breeds such as bulldogs and boxers.

Fly Strike

This is most commonly seen among our rabbit patients. Fly strike can happen to any rabbit that has urine or faeces around their bottom or any open wounds. Usually caused by the green bottle fly, the flies are attracted to warm, damp conditions especially when accompanied with a strong odour.  The fly lays her eggs and then within 24 hours there will be a host of maggots around the rabbit’s genital area. The maggots will immediately begin eating the debris and then quickly move into the flesh. Unfortunately, maggots work quickly and will just keep eating into the bunny, once into the flesh they release a toxin. Not only is this condition incredibly painful for the rabbit but the toxins released by the maggots cause the rabbit to go into shock.  Recovery of this condition depends on how quickly it is caught and how severe the infestation is. Often the maggots will need to be picked off the rabbit with tweezers to enable the wounds to be assessed. Pain relief and antibiotics are usually given and continual monitoring of the rabbit for any further maggots is a must. Fluids are often given to combat shock. This condition can happen to the healthiest of rabbits whom just have loose faeces that day, but at risk bunnies such as those that are overweight, have on going dental issues or are arthritic and therefore unable to clean themselves must be closely watched. More information on fly strike in rabbits can be found here.

Adder bites.

Adders generally make an appearance between the months of March and September. Adders are often found in long grass, near stagnant water, in sand dunes or in woodland area. Adders are around 2 foot long and only usually strike their victim when disturbed or stepped or in a dogs case often when a furry nose comes there way. It is not always possible to see the tiny puncture marks made by the snake initially as it often happens so quickly but the adder usually injects around 1ml of venom into its victim. Immediate veterinary treatment is required. Once bitten by the snake, the affected area begins to swell, bites usually occur around the face or legs. Swelling can be quite extensive; the dogs can become lethargic and depressed as the bite is often quite painful. Dogs that have been bitten by an adder must see a vet a soon as possible due to the amount of swelling if this occurs over the neck or throat area it may result in breathing difficulties. Dogs with a bite may also become restless, drool excessively or have pale gums. Veterinary care typically involves aggressive fluid therapy, pain killers, antibiotics and in some cases anti venom maybe administered.

Grass seeds

This is one of the most common summer hazards that we see. Grass seeds can imbed themselves virtually anywhere on the dog but are most commonly seen in paws, ears, eyes and noses. These little seeds have a sharp point so damage the skin on contact and then start working their way in causing a small swelling and discomfort. If the seed is in the ear, excessive shaking of the head may occur;  if they are in the paw excessive licking of the area is a common sign It’s important to always check your dog’s feet after they have been for a walk for any grass seeds that have attached themselves to the hair, pay particular attention to in between toes as this is a common area for the seeds to work their way in.  Often your dog will need to be sedated or anaesthetised to remove the grass seed which is not an easy job as grass seeds can be difficult to find.

Sunburn

During the summer months when the sun is at its warmest many dogs and cats enjoy laying in it. Although not common in dogs, sunburn certainly isn’t impossible especially in white dogs where the skin underneath is fair or in breeds where there isn’t a lot of hair to begin with. Sunburn is more common in cats, especially white cats, even those cats with just white ear tips and noses are at risk of developing squamous cell carcinomas (skin cancer). Pet safe sun cream should be applied to these areas as we would ourselves, to help prevent the area becoming sunburnt even on cloudy days.

For more information on how to keep your pets safe during the summer months please contact us on 01708 251200