Summer is a time for celebration, right? Well, yes and no. For pets it can be particularly challenging unless owners are vigilant. Here are a few hazards to watch out for.
Any hot environment can cause heatstroke, but the most common cause is leaving a dog in a car on a hot day, or not providing shade and water for a dog kept outdoors.
Heatstroke can be fatal. Severe dehydration can lead to kidney and other organ failure, and death.
Never, ever leave a dog in the car with the windows closed, or even cracked open a few centimetres, even if parked in the shade. The metal of the car turns its interior into a hot box on hot days, no matter how breezy or shady it is outside. Dogs with thick fur like Huskies and short noses (Bulldogs and Pekingese), are predisposed to heatstroke and should always be closely monitored on hot days. If your dog is kept outside he must have access to shade all day and fresh, clean water to drink.
Parasites like ticks and fleas flourish in warm weather, and they bring disease into your home. Ticks carry the potentially lethal disease biliary, which kills more dogs than anything else in South Africa. Some ticks are so small they hide undetected between your dog’s toes or deep in his ears. Fleas carry tapeworm, which can infect your family too. Ask your EberVet Vetshop for advice on the right parasite protection for your pet. What works for dogs is toxic to cats, and be especially careful what you apply when dealing with lactating bitches or kittens and puppies. Parasite protection is available as spot-on liquids, chewables, powders, shampoos and collars. Duration of efficacy depends on the product you choose.
This killer disease, which is particularly hard on puppies, is more common in summer, possibly because there is more interaction between dogs – in parks, walking on the beach or holidaying with their owners from other provinces. Highly contagious, it is expensive to treat and survival rates are poor. The only way to prevent parvovirus – and a host of other potentially fatal diseases like distemper – is through vaccination. Puppies should be vaccinated at 6-8 weeks. Adult dogs must be vaccinated once a year.
Don’t make the mistake of believing that snakes are confined to rural areas, farms or forests. Suburban veterinarians treat dozens of dogs with snakebites each summer as snakes emerge from their winter hibernation in search of food. If an animal is bitten by a snake and receives a lethal amount of snake venom, the animal will die unless treated with antivenom. Not all veterinary clinics keep stocks of anti-venom as it expires quickly. It’s a good idea to check with your vet now so that in an emergency, you know where to take your pet. Never, ever try to treat a snake bite by ‘sucking out’ the poison or applying home-made remedies. Get your pet to the vet immediately and try to take a picture of the snake, or give a description of it, so your vet knows what she’s dealing with.
While it’s important to keep your pet active for his health, be conscious of soaring temperatures and hazards like hot tar and pavements when out walking or running with your dog. Paw pads are easily burned. Exercise in the early morning or late afternoon when the weather cools, and always carry water for your dog.