Dogs and cats love nothing more than stretching out and relaxing in the warmth of the summer sun and I, for one, can understand why. As we hit the heights of our Australian summer, we need to take some precautionary measures with our furry family to avoid preventable trips to the vets with summer related illness and injuries.
All animals need to have access to fresh, cool drinking water at all times and this is particularly important during summer. Consider leaving a few bowls of water around, just in case one gets knocked over. A great idea if you’re heading out for a few hours, is to add ice cubes to their bowl of water to help keep it cooler for longer. A seashell kiddy pool is a great way of giving your dog an area to cool down, just fill it with water and your dog will be splashing for hours.
Just like us, our pets can suffer sunburn. Always be sure to have plenty of shady spots where they can lie during the day. Don’t forget that the sun moves during the day, so what might be a shady backyard spot in the morning might not be shady in the afternoon. Check out the sun’s path when you’re at home for a day to be sure and check again every few weeks as summer progresses. Skin cancer is the most common cancer found in dogs and the second most common in cats. Whilst fur does provide some protection from the sun, apply a pet sunblock to exposed areas such as bellies, pink noses and ears. There are a few pet sunblock products on the market – just don’t be tempted to use human sunscreen as some ingredients can be toxic to pets.
Ticks are prevalent along Australia’s east coast during summer and I highly recommend a preventative approach to these. As well as treating your pet regularly with flea and tick control, it’s essential to check your pet daily. Give them lots of cuddles, check them all over for any unusual lumps. If you do find a tick on your pet, check what type it is. Common bush ticks are generally dark brown in colour and can be removed easily with a tick remover. Paralysis ticks are blue/grey in colour and need to be removed quickly before your pet is affected. Common tick paralysis symptoms include a change in the voice, difficulty breathing and wobbly back legs. If you see any of these signs take your pet to your vet as quickly as possible, don’t wait until tomorrow to see if they get better, as tick paralysis can be fatal.
Fleas can become a nuisance, fast! The most important thing to remember when combating fleas is to tackle the problem in one fell swoop before you have an infestation. At the first sign, bathe your pet in a flea-wash and treat them with a spot application. On the same day you should wash all pet bedding, have the yard treated with a pet-friendly pesticide and vacuum the house. Flea eggs and larvae just love to sit in the carpet or between floor boards, particularly around skirting boards and behind furniture. Vacuum daily for one week to make sure that all of the eggs are removed. Don’t forget to empty your vacuum cleaner each day to make sure they don’t jump out.
As the days heat up we will probably find ourselves doing the all too common barefoot-jig to the letterbox like we’re dancing on hot coals. It’s really important to remember that your dog’s feet feel the heat too. On a 40 degree day the ground can reach temperatures of 60 degrees- that’s as hot as a piping hot coffee! If you can’t walk barefoot on the hot footpath, don’t make your best buddy do it.
Being Aussie, there’s nothing we like more than a summer BBQ and it’s really tempting to share the BBQ scraps with our pets. Don’t – it’s just not good for them. Corn on the cob for example, can lodge in a dog’s intestines, and cooked bones can splinter and stick in our pet’s throat. Instead, have some healthy and nutritious treats to hand that they can enjoy. Made from 100% Australian liver with no additives or preservatives, love’em liver treats are the healthy way to treat your pet in the long, hot and happy days of summer.