Suns out paws in:
With the warm weather set to stay, most people are excited by the prospect of sunny beach days to replace the absence of foreign holidays this year, but it isn’t always good news for pets.
Heat stress in dogs is a serious issue. Last year, a study by researchers at Nottingham Trent University and the Royal Veterinary College found that the main reason for canine heatstroke is dogs overexerting in the sun.
Joanna Buitelaar-Warden, Founder and Managing Director of Lords & Labradors, the luxury pet product company, said, “The advice to not leave dogs in hot cars, don’t walk them in too hot weather, don’t let them dehydrate, are all important things that have been reiterated time and time again. We know to keep an eye on our pets during the summer months, but it can be confusing to know exactly just what we should be aware of.”
1. Heatstroke, dehydration, and hot cars
The obvious one but ultimately extremely important is monitoring the heat. Dogs’ fur is great in the cold winter months, however, in the summer it can make them very uncomfortable, especially long-haired dogs. Heatstroke occurs when the body’s temperature rises above its normal levels and therefore cannot accommodate any additional heat.
Some of the key symptoms to watch out for are:
· Dry pale gums
· Bright red tongue
· Excessive panting
· Agitated behaviour
· Increased heart rate
To minimise the risk of dehydration and heatstroke, your pet should always have access to clean, fresh drinking water even when out and about. You should avoid exercising your dog during the hottest part of the day and try and get out early morning or late evening.
If you do think that your dog is dehydrated, or is demonstrating one or more of the symptoms listed above, cool them down with a hose, or place a cool, damp towel over them.
It is well known that you should never leave your dog in a car, even if it is just for a few minutes. Heatstroke can happen quickly, and it can be fatal. If your dog becomes distressed in a hot car, passers-by are encouraged to dial 999, and the police will act to release the dog – even if that means damage to your vehicle.
Dogs such as Chow Chow’s, Bulldogs, French Bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles are most prone to heatstroke and overheating.
2. Insects, ticks, and stings.
As pets will be spending more time outside, they will become more prone to ticks; small parasites which suck blood from other animals. Ticks are commonly found in woodland and grassland. To prevent your pet from getting bitten, you can purchase preventative treatments from your local Vet Practice which will repel ticks.
As humans, we fret around the buzzing noise when a bee comes close, however, an inquisitive pet may seek to investigate, and as a result, could get stung. Commonly, most stings will cause your pet some irritation and some pain. Most commonly a cat may have a swollen paw and a dog may have a swollen mouth, which can result in breathing difficulties.
If your pet shows any of the following symptoms, they could have been stung:
· Pawing at the face, or mouth
· Biting at the site of the sting
· Holding up their paw (if that is where they have been stung)
If they have been stung near their mouth or nose, you should contact your vet straight away, as this is a medical emergency.
3. Swimming pools, sea, rivers, and lakes
For many dogs, a pool, river, or lake may look inviting when the temperatures are high, however, it’s important to remember that not all dogs can swim, or even like the water. If you are near water with a current or tide, be wary as even if your dog is a strong swimmer, they could quickly find themselves in trouble, especially if they are swimming against a tide.
Keep a lookout for blue-green algae and associated warning signs, as this is often poisonous for dogs. Don’t let your dog swim or drink water which you suspect is contaminated.
If your dog does enjoy swimming, after they have played in the water you should ensure they are always thoroughly rinsed to wash away salt, chlorine, and harmful bacteria.
4. Walking on hot pavements and artificial grass
Tarmac can get very hot in the sun and could burn your dog’s paws. Check the pavement with your hand before letting your dog walk on it — hold your hand down for seven seconds, if it's too hot for you, then it's too hot for your dog's paws.
To prevent your dog from burning its paws, you should follow the measures listed below:
Walking them in the cooler hours of the day – early morning or late evening
If you are out in the midday heat try and walk them on the grass where possible
Clean and check your dog’s paws regularly
5. Gardens, Fertiliser, and plants
Most fertilisers contain nitrogen and iron which will poison your pet and cause severe stomach problems which can cause irritation. Pesticides can cause your pet to have tremors and seizures.
Many plants and flowers are poisonous for pets. If your pet consumes a poisonous plant, depending on how much and their level of toxicity, they may become quite unwell. Below is a shortlist of just some of the plants which can be hazardous to our pets which grow in the summer months:
Elder: The whole plant, including the elderberries, are poisonous for both cats and dogs.
Lilies: Containing a toxin that can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, collapsing, fits and heart problems, and renal failure in cats. Lily flowers and leaves are also often used in flower bouquets and are very poisonous to both dogs and cats.
Foxglove: Both the seeds and the leaves of a foxglove plant contain a toxin which can cause your pet to have heart problems, sickness, and diarrhoea, fits and collapsing.
Geranium: The whole geranium plant is poisonous to both dogs and cats.
Hydrangea: Parts of a hydrangea plant contain cyanide which is toxic to both dogs and cats.
“Summer is an enjoyable time of year especially with our pets, as we enjoy more of the outdoors. However, it is imperative that people remain aware of just some of the many hazards which your pets could be exposed to and having a cautious and watchful eye will help keep your pet safe.”