Keeping your pet comfortable

The population of pets in the UK is estimated to be in excess of 50 million, the majority being dogs, cats and rabbits. Louise Lohne from Medivet Esher advises on some simple precautions which will ensure your pet enjoys the summer as much as you do!  

One of the most commonly presented conditions a veterinarian will see during the summer is dogs with heatstroke. Breed, weight and medical conditions can pre-dispose some dogs to lose control over their body’s temperature regulation. Most at risk are the very popular short nosed breeds such as French Bulldogs and Pugs, though all dogs should be monitored closely on hot days. Heat stroke can be prevented by making sure your dog has access to water and shade at all times and never leaving the dog in a car or hot room. Walking should be done in the early morning or late evening and hosing your dog down with cool water will help keep them comfortable. Signs of heat stroke can vary from excessive panting to loss of consciousness, collapse and seizures. If you’re concerned, call your vet immediately. They will be able to advise on how to administer first aid on the way to the clinic.

Another consideration during the summer months is the possibility of leftovers after picnics and BBQs, which can be dangerous for a scavenging pet. We often see emergency surgeries performed due to ingested bones, corn on the cob, wooden skewers or ice lolly sticks.

If you’re a cat lover then you’ll know that they generally look after themselves, provided they have access to food, water and shelter. However, even if you’re not a pet owner, please do check your sheds, garages and greenhouses before you lock up to go away on holiday. Cats are known to find places to hide away and can be accidentally locked in without food or water.

Just like humans, dogs and cats can get sunburn – and, just like in humans, sunburn can lead to skin cancer.  Pets with white ears or pale noses are more at risk.  Ask your vet for pet-friendly sun screen.

During the summer there is an increased risk of parasitic infections such as fleas, ticks and lungworm, some of which can transmit serious diseases. Make sure your pet has a comprehensive parasite protection plan. There are many products available and your vet will be able to advise you on what would best suit you and your pet.

The rabbit’s popularity as a pet is growing fast. The assumption is often made that they are easy pets to look after, but keeping a rabbit does in fact require some knowledge about husbandry and prevention of disease. One of the most common and devastating conditions seen by vets during the summer months is fly strike. Fly strike occurs when the rabbit has predisposing conditions (mucky bottom, dirty cage or a wound) which attracts flies. The flies lay eggs, which then hatch. The fly larva feed off the rabbit’s skin. This condition is often not noticed by owners until it is in the advanced stages. It requires intensive treatment and hospitalisation and often the rabbit is euthanised due to welfare concerns. A rabbit owner should check their pet for wounds or urine-soaked fur daily. The hutch requires daily cleaning and fruits and vegetable treats should also be removed and replaced every day. Your vet can supply products that can be applied to the rabbit’s skin and fur to repel flies and kill larva.

A final word of advice: make sure you know where your nearest veterinary surgery is located and have the number and address in your phone for easy access in case of an emergency.

So with these simple tools to prevent common summer related conditions I wish you all a happy summer!

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