Summer is a great time for spending more time outdoors with your pets, however there are some common summertime hazards to be aware of, to ensure your pets safety and health - especially during the festive season.
Heat stress occurs when the pet’s body overheats due to hot temperatures and excessive activity. Some pets can be more prone to suffering from heat stress, including the flat-faced (brachycephalic) breeds, and those pets that are overweight or have long or heavy coats.
Tips to reduce the risk of heat stress are to exercise pets during the cool of the early morning or evening – this will also avoid walking your pet on hot pavement, which can lead to burnt paws, which can be an incredibly painful cause of lameness.
It is important to ensure that pets have access to fresh, cool water and a cool, shady place to rest, out of the sun during the heat of the day. Pets should also never be left inside vehicles, as the temperature inside cars can climb rapidly, leading to potentially fatal heatstroke.
Summertime also means that snakes, spiders and paralysis ticks may be more prevalent – which can mean an increased risk to your pet, and if affected, urgent veterinary attention is required. During warming weather, snakes may be active in areas of bushland or long grass, so take care when exercising your pet. The signs of snake bite can include weakness, wobbliness and collapse – and urgent veterinary attention is required. Spider bites can cause localised pain and irritation, however, the more venomous spiders such as red back spiders or funnel web spiders can cause neurological signs such as weakness and muscle tremors.
The upcoming festive period also reminds us to not feed certain food items to pets. If enjoying a barbeque or meal, don’t be tempted to feed leftovers to your pets. Onions can be toxic to pets, and fatty meat off-cuts can be a risk for pancreatitis – which can cause vomiting and diarrhoea in pets. Cooked bones can be a choking hazard and can also cause gut blockages and perforation. For more information on foods that should not be fed to dogs, view our article.
If you do need advice as to whether your pet needs veterinary attention, give your vet a call - they are best placed to let you know if your pets needs to see a veterinarian, and in many cases can save you from a lot of unnecessary worry. There are a few things to remember though; always try to plan ahead by making sure you have your preferred local veterinary practices number in a handy place and familiarise yourself with their opening times.
Importantly over the festive season remember that vets need a break as well, and subsequently, some local veterinary services may be reduced. "Veterinarians have not only faced the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic this year, but also continue to be affected by long-term workforce issues including low remuneration, poor mental wellness and an overall relative veterinary shortage due to high rates of attrition from the profession”, says Dr Warwick Vale, AVA President.
The Australian Veterinary Association is asking all pet owners to be thoughtful, respectful and patient towards veterinarians as they deliver the necessary care to your pets. Pet owners can assist both their pet and their vet by being prepared over the holiday period - by checking your local vet clinic’s opening hours, noting the location of your nearest after-hours emergency vet hospital, and in all cases - ringing ahead to alert the vet practice that you are on your way. Be prepared for longer than usual wait times at veterinary practices, particularly veterinary emergency hospitals as they will be busy over the festive season.