Four hot summer safety tips for pet owners

RACQ veterinarian reveals hidden summer dangers.

Summer and the holiday season means more time at home with your pets.

But the warmer weather brings seasonal hazards that could impact your pet’s safety and wellbeing.

RACQ veterinarian Dr Alice Adams has revealed what to look out for during the warmer months.

Ticks

Dr Adams said paralysis ticks were a danger to both cats and dogs in Queensland during summer.

“Vets have many good preventative treatments against ticks but it’s still important to check your pets regularly,” she said.

“Seek veterinary help immediately if you find a tick or your pet experiences symptoms such as heavy breathing and salivation, lethargy, vomiting or loss of coordination.

“The sooner you get your pet to the vet, the quicker vets can administer tick anti-serum and other treatments to increase your pet’s chance of recovery.”

Heat stress

“Heat stress can occur on warm summer days, especially if your dog is exercising in the middle of the day,” Dr Adams said.

“Avoid taking your pet for a walk, to the beach or dog park during the hottest part of the day and ensure they always have access to shade and plenty of water.

Cats are also susceptible to dehydration and heatstroke as they don’t sweat and are less likely to drink water than dogs.

“Heat stress or heat stroke can be deadly so take your pet to the vet straight away if you notice heavy panting, vomiting, lethargy or collapse,” Dr Adams said.

Barbecues and parties

“Keep an eye on your pets during parties as they can be prone to getting into food that they shouldn’t,” Dr Adams said.

“Foods such as alcohol, chocolate, grapes and raisins are toxic to cats and dogs and can cause serious illnesses which cost hundreds to thousands of dollars to treat.”

Pet owners should take particular care during barbecue season.

“When cooking a barbecue, make sure skewers and bones are disposed of immediately,” Dr Adams said.

“Dogs love to chew on skewers for the traces of meat but if they swallow them it can cause a perforation which would require emergency surgery.

“Cooked bones can splinter and pierce your cat or dog's palate, stomach or intestines so make sure all rubbish is secured and out of your pet’s reach."

Beach trips

A day at the beach with your dog poses many hidden dangers.

“Dogs love to play in the ocean but if they drink too much salt water they could end up with salt toxicity,” Dr Adams said. 

“Always make sure there is fresh water available for when your dog is thirsty and seek veterinary help if your dog experiences vomiting, diarrhea, a fever or tremors after a day at the beach.”

Dr Adams said dogs were also likely to eat things they shouldn’t at the beach.

“Eating or playing with jellyfish or bluebottles can cause painful stings to the mouth and irritate the skin,” she said.

“Rotten fish and other sea life contain bacteria and possibly toxins so dogs may experience vomiting and diarrhea from ingesting them. 

“Dried seaweed washed up on the shore can expand in the stomach and cause a blockage so keep an eye on what your dog is picking up.”

 

Dr Alice Adams BVSc (Hons) is a veterinarian registered in Queensland.