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How to survive the summer - advice from our emergency service, VetsNow

Summertime should mean fun, sun (maybe!), and lots of play outdoors. Unfortunately this means that we can see more cat fights, tails stuck in patio doors and road traffic accidents as a result. We also see injuries associated with BBQs, including burns – where pets have jumped onto the hot BBQ and digestive upsets after eating food they wouldn’t normally.

By following some of these tips, so you can take some simple precautions to keep your much loved pet healthy, cool, happy and safe this summertime.

Fresh food and water
Ensure your pet always has plenty of fresh water available (you could even add some ice cubes too) and take water along with you when walking your dog. Just like us they will need to drink regularly to avoid dehydration in the warmer months. Always remove any uneaten food to prevent contamination from flies, or spoiling due to the hot weather.

Hot spots
Many pets love sunbathing but will often choose an inappropriate spot. Avoid leaving them in a suntrap such as a conservatory, greenhouse, tent and never leave your dog in a parked car on a hot day, not even for a minute. Heat stroke kills rapidly, so make sure you know the signs:

•a rapid heart rate
•very red gums/tongue
•lack of coordination
•reluctance or inability to rise after collapsing
•loss of consciousness in extreme circumstances.

If you suspect that your pet is suffering from heat stroke, seek immediate veterinary attention. Detecting heat stroke early and treating it promptly is essential to your pet recovering successfully.

Animal safe sunscreens are available and it is worth considering applying some to your pet’s ears and nose, especially if they are light coloured. During the summer months it’s not uncommon to see white cats and dogs suffering from sunburn and just like us this can lead to cancers of the nose and ear.

Parasites such as fleas and ticks are more prevalent in the warmer months. Regular treatment with the appropriate product should keep things under control. Check your pet's fur frequently and if you are struggling to keep parasites under control, make sure you have treated your pet’s bedding and the house and speak to your vet for further advice about the best products to use. Read more about protecting your pet from ticks, mites and fleas >>

Bites and stings
Insect stings are another potential summer hazard, particularly for those who can't resist trying to make friends with bees flying from flower to flower. If your pet is stung near its mouth or in its throat the airway may swell and restrict breathing. Some animals may also be allergic to bee and wasp stings. If you think your cat has been stung, contact your vet for advice. Read more about dealing with insect stings in pets

Grass seeds
Grass seeds caught in your cat’s and dog’s paws, eyes or ears is an extremely common problem during the summer months. Your pet may show signs of discomfort, shake their head, rub at their eyes or chew at their feet.

•Trim the fur on your pet's paws and around their ears
•Check your dog for grass seeds routinely following a walk

Grass seeds can be painful and are difficult to remove from sensitive areas, so please consult your vet if you suspect your pet my have grass seed stuck.

The garden
Pets love spending time in the garden, so make sure it’s safe for them. Be careful if you need to use any pellets, pesticides or other chemicals, and check which plants are poisonous to your pet (advice on which plants are safe to pets should be available from your garden centre). Lilies are particularly poisonous to cats, laburnum are poisonous to dogs, and daffodils, rhododendron and yew are poisonous to both cats and dogs. Avoid using cocoa shell mulches as this is toxic to dogs (it contains the same ingredient as chocolate). Read more about pet proofing your garden >>

BBQs and summer parties
If you are having a barbeque, make sure your pet is kept at a safe distance from the hot barbecue and remember that party food is not for pets. Kebab skewers, alcohol, corn on the cob and bones are particularly dangerous BBQ hazards for your pet.

Adder bites
Rarely seen, but occasionally cats and dogs will disturb an adder in the long grass. Bites result in swelling, pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, incoordination and collapse. If you think an adder has bitten your pet seek veterinary help immediately.

During the summer sheds and garages are often left open, so it’s easy for pets to get in and contaminate their paws with chemicals, which they then lick off. Find out more about common poisons in cats and dogs.

Flystrike in rabbits
During warm periods of the year (April to October) our emergency clinics see a considerable number of flystrike cases in pet rabbits. Flystrike is a devastating condition caused by the fly Lucilia sericata, or a green bottle fly, the same species that infests sheep. These green bottle flies are attracted to damp fur soiled with urine or soft faeces. Read more about flystrike in rabbits




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