Watch out - the sun's about!
Hooray the summer is almost with us and days filled with sunshine (we hope!). Most of us, including our pets, love the warmer weather, but it does bring its own particular set of challenges and problems for our pets. Here are a few tips to keep your pet fit and well during this warmer time of year.
Heat stroke – can be an extremely serious problem and can even be fatal. Although all dogs are at risk, the shorter faced breeds, like staffies, pugs, boxers and bulldogs are more vulnerable. The danger is also greater if they are overweight – another reason to ensure your dog stays nice and lean.
You should avoid exercising your pets in the midday heat and make sure they don’t over-exert themselves, especially not to the point of exhaustion. Always take a drink for them when out on a walk and when you return home ensure they have a cool shaded spot to lie in with plenty of fresh water.
Slip, slap, slop! Most cats are real sun worshippers, which doesn’t tend to be a problem unless they have white ears or noses. These areas are vulnerable to sun burn because the hair is thin, which is painful enough, but can also trigger skin cancers. To protect your pet, apply a high factor waterproof sun lotion to their ears and noses.
Grass seeds – another summer problem! The grass awns of the meadow grasses are easily trapped in the coats of pets, especially dogs. They then migrate and become lodged in a variety of places including the ears and between the toes. It’s always a good idea to groom your pets regularly and especially after walks.
BBQ beware! Lovely weather and longer evenings means that the barbecue’s come out and dogs often have a great time hoovering up the left-overs! However, this can cause tummy upsets, but even more seriously, if anything like bones, kebab sticks and sweetcorn cobs are snaffled, they can actually lead to serious blockages. This could then mean life-saving surgery is needed to remove the offending item. It’s best therefore to keep your pets away from the barbecue to save any unwanted incidents.
Itch alert! For sensitive dogs with allergies, the flowers and grasses that thrive in the summer months can cause real problems. Dogs will often break out with nasty skin rashes, especially on their feet, tummy and ears. If your pet is affected, you should see your vet for a check-up – there are treatments that can be given to improve the situation. Don’t forget to keep up to date with anti-parasite treatment – fleas can be a big cause of itching.
If you are at all concerned about your pets during the summer months, don’t delay and contact your vet immediately for an appointment. Sometimes time can be of essence in preventing a very unwell pet - and no-one wants that.
Chris Devlin BVSc MRCVS is a Vet and Partner at Hillside Veterinary Centre in Corfe Mullen.