For many of us, summer is a season to be celebrated. At last we can spend hours outdoors swimming in the sea, taking long hikes in the mountains, hosting pool parties and braais. But for our pets, summer holds a few nasty surprises which, if we aren’t vigilant, can be life-threatening. Here are our top three:

* Ticks

Good winter rains coupled with warmer temperatures means ticks are multiplying in their thousands. Now is not the time to neglect your pet’s parasite control. Even if you don’t see ticks in your garden, they’re there. Ticks are not confined to veld or farms; suburban gardens are just as much of a haven for these disease-carrying critters and because they’re so small, you may not find them hiding in the long hair between your dog’s toes, or way down in your pet’s ear canal. Biliary, which is a disease caused by the parasite named Babesia canis rossi is transmitted to pets via ticks. More dogs die from biliary in South Africa than any other disease, yet there are several excellent anti-parasite products on the market that can protect your pets all year round. Ask your nearest EberVet Vetshop for advice on the product best suited to your pet, as what you choose depends on the age and life-stage of your pet.

* Snakes

Like ticks, snakes love summer and if you enjoy taking your dog on a hike or for a run in the veld, bear in mind that dogs don’t appreciate that snakes can kill. A dog sees a snake as a curiosity or a challenge and will either attack it or try to sniff it. Dogs also like to put their noses down holes and under logs. Snakes strike defensively so if you keep your dog on a lead while walking along trails or in the mountains, and keep a lookout, you and your dog should be fine. Cats are seldom bitten as they have an innate understanding of the danger. For more on snake dangers and what to do if your dog is bitten, go to www.ebervet.com/snakes-dog-need-know/.

* Heatstroke

As crazy as it seems, most cases of heatstroke seen by vets are caused by pet owners leaving their dogs in their car on hot days. A car can be as much as 30 degrees hotter inside than outside on a hot day, yet pet owners persist in leaving their dogs in the car while they shop. Even just a few minutes in a hot car can lead to heatstroke, and heatstroke is deadly. Please rather leave your dog at home when shopping or, if he is in the car and you must stop, ensure you park in a shady area, crank all four windows open for air flow and leave him for no more than five minutes. Heatstroke is more common in dogs with short muzzles, like pugs, Pekingese and bulldogs. If you notice symptoms of heatstroke, gently allow cool water to flow over your pet. Use a hosepipe but keep the flow gentle, not strong. Get to the vet immediately as intensive care is generally needed to save your pet’s life. Do not submerge your pet in ice or ice-cold water as this can have detrimental effects on his recovery.

There are plenty of reasons to celebrate summer but being vigilant about your pet’s safety while having fun is as essential to his wellbeing as ice-cream cones are to yours. Happy summer! – Veterinarian Dr Hilldidge Beer is the CEO of the EberVet Petcare Group and EberVet Vetshops

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