Summer safety – why your pets need you to stay alert!
Mid-summer means endless days to enjoy time outdoors with our animal chums. It also means being aware of all sorts of hazards that can affect our furry friends. But don’t panic, we’ve plenty of great advice to help you be a pet parent who can totally handle it...
Parasites – how to tackle those nasty nippers and sickening stingers
It’s not just us that enjoys warmer days – all manner of pests thrive as temperatures rise. Make sure your pets’ vaccinations are up-to-date and ask your vet about the most suitable parasite prevention treatments to safeguard against fleas, worms and ticks.
Ticks can carry dangerous infections such as Lyme disease, which requires immediate veterinary treatment and can also infect humans. They’re most commonly found on your pet’s head and neck, around their ears, in whiskers, or on their legs after walks in long grass, particularly near livestock. Ticks can be removed using a special tick removal device, available from your vet or pet shop. Slide it under the tick and turn anticlockwise. Do not pull. Be careful to remove the whole tick, including legs or mouthparts. If you’re unsure about removing it correctly, your vet will be able to do it for you.
- Find out more about vaccinations from our in-house vet, Dr Suzanne Moyes, here >>
- How to protect your guineas and bunnies from parasites such as mites and flystrike >>
- Caring for your guinea pigs’ sensitive skin >>
- Hot and humid weather creates the ideal breeding conditions for billions of fleas that are hitching a ride on our pets. Find out how you can fight back here >>
- Lungworm – a potentially fatal canine disease – is now occurring in previously ‘safe’ areas of the country. Untreated, lungworm can be fatal. Here’s what you need to know >>
Don’t attract ‘tasty’ slugs and snails by leaving pets’ bowls and toys outside. Molluscs often carry the larvae of lungworm, a potentially lethal parasite. Dogs can become infected if they eat slugs and snails deliberately, or by accident, for example when munching on grass, drinking from puddles or outdoor water bowls, or picking up toys left in the garden.
Adders are found in some parts of the UK and, although snakebites are rare, they can cause severe pain, swelling around two small puncture wounds, as well as breathing problems. If bitten, your pet will need urgent veterinary treatment.
Insect stings most commonly occur on a forelimb or around the face, causing pain and swelling. The consequences of an insect sting are not usually serious, unless an animal develops an obstruction to its breathing due to a sting within the back of the mouth, or if they have an allergic reaction. If this is the case, your pet will need emergency treatment from your vet.
Get water wise
Letting your dog have a paddle on a hot day may seem like the most natural activity – but it could be fraught with danger. With an increase in reports of toxic blue green algae across the UK, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) is urging pet owners to take extra precautions. Find out more here >>
Dogs and water mean fun times for our four-legged pals on a blazing summer’s day – as long as you choose the right swimming locations and avoid potential water hazard hot-spots >>
Don’t be floored by fearsome flora
Some common garden plants can be toxic to animals, including lilies, laburnum, daffodils, rhododendron and yew – ask your garden centre for advice. For a pet-friendly garden, avoid using chemicals, fertilisers and slug pellets and ditch the cocoa shell mulch – it contains the same ingredient as chocolate and is toxic to dogs.
For more garden-related pet safety advice, check out these blogs:
- Is your garden just a place to ‘let the dog out’? Why not make it a much more interesting place for your canine chum to enjoy >>
- Providing an entrancing outdoor space that they’ll want to spend lots of time in will help to keep your feline friend out of mischief >>
- Rabbits love to run and roam about your garden, but a determined bunny with digging on their mind can quickly make their escape. Keep them safe with our top bunny-proof garden tips >>
Once grass begins to go to seed later in the summer, sharp-pointed awns are easily picked up in the coat of long-haired pets – so check your pets over every day. Grass awns can penetrate the skin almost anywhere, but most commonly get into the ears, or between the toes, where they cause a great deal of irritation. Once they penetrate the skin or enter the ear, an anaesthetic may be required to remove them.
Giant Hogweed – once dubbed the UK’s ‘most dangerous’ plant – is currently on the rampage, posing a serious health risk to both people and pets. It typically grows near canals and rivers but, in recent years, has spread to gardens, parks and verges. It’s often mistaken for cow parsley or hemlock due to its long stems and flat-topped clusters of white leaves. The sap can cause highly painful burns, which blister within 48 hours, and can also lead to blindness if it gets in the eyes – so learn to identify it so you can avoid it.
Sun sense for all
While we humans are well aware of the dangers of spending too much time in the sun, the same is true for our pets. Although their fur provides a little protection, just like us, pets can suffer from sunburn and, in some cases, sun damage can lead to skin cancer. Here’s what to do keep your pets safe in the sun >>
Keep pets with white or light-coloured ears or noses out of direct sunlight and consider buying pet-friendly sunscreen (available from good pet retail outlets) to protect noses, ear tips, plus any other white or hairless parts of their bodies.
*** Barbecue warning ***
Barbecues and pets can be a recipe for disaster, unless you take precautions to ensure the four-legged members of your family stay safe. According to animal hospital charity PDSA, every summer, their vets see lots of pets who’ve got into a spot of bother at the family barbecue. Find out how to enjoy some barbecue fun while keeping your pets safe >>
Please note, that due to coronavirus restrictions, veterinary practices are abiding by set protocols, in line with national guidelines from the British Veterinary Association and the Government. Urgent cases and emergencies will still be treated – but check with your local practice about the procedures they have in place to keep people, as well as animals, safe.
If you found this interesting, you may also like:
KEEP CALM AND CALL THE VET If you have pets, it’s always best to be prepared. Regular checks will help you spot if something’s not right. Plus, would you know what to do in an emergency?
5 WAYS TO HELP YOUR PETS WHEN THE HEAT IS ON A sizzling summer means our pets must rely on us to protect them against potential problems caused by very hot weather. Plus, we’ve an important message about heatstroke...
CREATE A SAFE OUTDOOR SPACE FOR YOUR CAT If you live by a busy road, have a nervous or disabled cat, it may just not be safe to let them wander around outside. The solution could be to provide them with a cat-safe outdoor space...
KEEPING YOUR CAT SAFE IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS Allowing cat access to the outside world provides them with valuable exercise opportunities and mental stimulation. But what can you do to help keep them out of harm’s way?
DOGS ON TOUR Our 10-point guide to making travelling in the car with your dog a positive, happy experience this summer
Sources: rspca.org.uk, pdsa.org.uk, rhs.org.uk