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Common summer pet illnesses and how to prevent them


Summer is the perfect time to explore the great outdoors with your furry friend. Whether it be hiking, taking your dog swimming, or playing fetch in the park, the summer provides endless opportunities for pet owners to bond with their pets. However, with the warmer weather and increased exposure to outdoor activities comes the risk of summer pet illnesses. But don’t worry, understanding the common illnesses your pet may face this summer can help you take the necessary steps to keep them healthy and safe.


Heatstroke

Heatstroke is one of the most common illnesses in pets during the summer months. Pets can easily become overheated due to the hot weather, high humidity, and lack of ventilation.


Some of the signs of heatstroke in dogs and cats include excessive panting, lethargy, drooling, and vomiting.

If you suspect your pet is experiencing heatstroke, it's crucial to act quickly and follow these steps:


  1. Contact your veterinarian: Even if your pet appears to be recovering, heatstroke can cause internal damage that may not be immediately apparent. Contact your veterinarian as soon as possible to discuss further evaluation and treatment.

  2. Move your pet to a cooler area: Immediately take your pet out of the hot environment and into a cool, shaded, or air-conditioned space.

  3. Cool your pet down: Use cool (not ice-cold) water to gently wet your pet's fur, focusing on the head, neck, and underbelly. You can also place wet towels in these areas. Avoid using ice or extremely cold water, as this may constrict blood vessels and slow down the cooling process.

  4. Encourage hydration: Offer your pet small amounts of cool water to drink, but don't force them if they are unwilling or unable to drink. You can also offer ice cubes for them to lick.

  5. Use a fan: If available, use a fan to help circulate air and evaporate moisture from your pet's body, which will aid in the cooling process

  6. Monitor their temperature: Using a rectal thermometer, regularly check your pet's temperature. The goal is to lower their body temperature to around 39°C, at which point you should stop the cooling efforts to avoid overcooling.



To prevent this from happening, make sure your pet has access to fresh water at all times, and provide them with a shaded area to rest. To minimise the risk of cat and dog heatstroke, never leave your pet in a parked car, provide plenty of fresh water and shade during hot weather, avoid excessive exercise during high temperatures, and be extra cautious with pets that have flat faces, thick coats, or existing medical conditions.


Dehydration


Dehydration is another common pet illness during the summer months. This can happen quickly, especially if your pet is active outdoors and not taking in enough water. Symptoms of cat or dog dehydration in pets include dry mouth, sunken eyes, and lethargy.


Renal disease can also be exacerbated by dehydration. Kidney function and hydration are interlinked. With kidney disease, your pet will find it much harder to keep hydrated. If your pet has kidney disease, it is important to keep water available at all times. The only way to diagnose if your pet has renal disease is through a blood and urine test.

If you suspect your pet is dehydrated, it's essential to address the issue promptly to prevent further complications. Follow these steps:


  1. Contact your veterinarian: If they are at the point of having sunken eyes and a skin tent, you need to get to a vet immediately.

  2. Check for dehydration signs: Common signs of dehydration in pets include lethargy, sunken eyes, dry nose and gums, loss of skin elasticity, and excessive panting. To check your pet's skin elasticity, gently pinch the skin on the back of their neck or between their shoulder blades and release it. If the skin doesn't return to its normal position quickly, your pet may be dehydrated.

  3. Encourage water intake: Offer your pet fresh, clean water to drink. If they're unwilling or unable to drink on their own, try using a dropper or syringe (without a needle) to administer small amounts of water into their mouth. You can also offer ice cubes for them to lick.

  4. Keep your pet cool: Move your pet to a cooler, shaded area or an air-conditioned space to help prevent further fluid loss through panting or sweating.

  5. Follow your vet's recommendations: Depending on the severity of the dehydration and any underlying causes, your veterinarian may recommend administering fluids subcutaneously (under the skin) or intravenously (through a vein). Always follow your vet's instructions and monitor your pet's progress closely.


Remember, prevention is key. Ensure your pet always has access to clean water, avoid excessive exercise during hot weather, and be vigilant about monitoring your pet's health and behaviour.




Parasites


Parasites such as ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes are more abundant during the summer months and can cause various illnesses in pets. These illnesses range from skin irritations to Lyme disease.


In rabbits, it is important to be aware of flystrike. This condition happens fast and must be addressed quickly as it is deadly. Some symptoms of flystrike include wet patches of fur, maggots in fur or under the skin, lethargy and a bad smell. If you suspect flystrike on your rabbit, take them to the vet immediately.

If you spot parasites on your pet, it's essential to take appropriate action to protect your pet's health and prevent further infestation. Here are some steps you can follow:


  1. Identify the parasite: First, try to identify the type of parasite you're dealing with, as different parasites require different treatments. Common parasites include fleas, ticks, mites, and lice.

  2. Consult your veterinarian: Contact your veterinarian for advice on the appropriate treatment for the specific parasite. They will recommend a veterinary-prescribed medication which will effectively deal with parasitic disease.

  3. Make an appointment: The vet can perform a thorough examination to determine if there are any underlying issues that may have contributed to your rabbit's vulnerability to flystrike, such as dental problems or obesity.

  4. Administer treatment: Follow your veterinarian's recommendations for treating your pet. This may involve using topical ointments, oral medications, or medicated shampoos. Always read and follow the instructions carefully to ensure the treatment is effective and safe for your pet.

  5. Clean the environment: Thoroughly clean your pet's living environment, including bedding, carpets, and upholstery, to remove any remaining parasites and their eggs. You may need to use a pet-safe insecticide spray or powder and be prepared to repeat the cleaning process multiple times to ensure all parasites are eradicated.

  6. Prevent re-infestation: Talk to your veterinarian about preventive measures to keep parasites at bay in the future. This may include regular flea and tick treatments, maintaining a clean living environment, and avoiding high-risk areas where parasites are prevalent.

  7. Monitor your pet's health: Keep an eye on your pet's health and behaviour after treating the parasite infestation. If symptoms persist or worsen, consult your veterinarian for further evaluation and treatment.


Remember, prevention is key when it comes to parasites. This can be avoided with good hygiene so regular cleaning and checking your rabbit for urine or faecal soiling is crucial. Regularly check your pet for signs of parasites, maintain a clean environment, and follow your veterinarian's recommendations for preventive care. You can get flea and tick treatment for dogs and flea treatment for cats which is the best preventative measure to take.




Allergies


Just like humans, pets can also experience seasonal allergies. Common signs of pet allergies include excessive scratching or chewing, red and inflamed skin, and watery eyes.

If you suspect your pet has allergies, it's important to address the issue to ensure their comfort and well-being. Follow these steps:


  1. Monitor symptoms: Keep a close eye on your pet's symptoms, which may include itching, redness, sneezing, coughing, skin irritation, hair loss, or digestive issues. Note when the symptoms occur, how long they last, and if there are any specific triggers.

  2. Consult your veterinarian: Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss your pet's symptoms and possible allergens. Your vet will likely perform a physical examination and may recommend further testing, such as blood tests or skin tests, to identify the cause of the allergy.

  3. Identify the allergen: Work with your veterinarian to determine the specific allergen causing your pet's reaction. Common pet allergies include food ingredients, pollen, mould, dust mites, fleas, and certain materials like plastic or rubber.

  4. Develop a treatment plan: Once the allergen has been identified, your veterinarian will recommend a treatment plan tailored to your pet's specific needs. This may include medication, such as antihistamines, corticosteroids, or immunotherapy, as well as changes to your pet's environment or diet.

  5. Implement allergen avoidance: If possible, minimise your pet's exposure to the allergen. This may involve changing their diet, using hypoallergenic bedding, regularly cleaning their home to reduce allergens, or using flea prevention treatments.

  6. Monitor progress: Keep track of your pet's symptoms and overall health after implementing the treatment plan. Be prepared to make adjustments as needed and maintain regular communication with your veterinarian.



Remember, early detection and intervention are crucial for managing allergies in pets. Regular check-ups with your veterinarian can help identify potential allergies and ensure your pet receives the appropriate care. To prevent these allergies, try to limit your pet's exposure to allergens such as pollen, dust, and mould. You should also schedule a visit with your veterinarian to determine the best course of treatment for your pet’s allergies.


Poisoning


During the summer months, pets have more exposure to toxins and chemicals that are harmful to their health. Poisoning can happen through ingestion, inhalation, or absorption through the skin. Some toxic substances pets may encounter include fertilisers, insecticides, and pool chemicals. A dog paddling pool is a great idea to avoid your dog going into your pool!


Symptoms of poisoning in dogs can vary depending on the toxin involved, but common signs include vomiting, diarrhoea, drooling, loss of appetite, weakness, seizures, disorientation, and difficulty breathing. If you suspect your dog has ingested a poisonous substance, seek immediate veterinary care to ensure their safety and well-being.


If you suspect your pet has been poisoned, it's essential to act quickly and take the following steps:


  1. Stay calm: Keep calm and act swiftly to ensure the best outcome for your pet.

  2. Remove your pet from the source: If possible, remove your pet from the toxic substance or environment to prevent further exposure.

  3. Gather information: Collect as much information as possible about the poison, including the type, amount ingested, and any packaging or labels. This will be helpful when speaking to your veterinarian or a pet poison helpline.

  4. Contact your veterinarian or a pet poison helpline: Call your veterinarian or the pet poison helpline (01202 509000) immediately. Provide them with the gathered information and follow their advice on the next steps to take.

  5. Do not induce vomiting unless instructed: Inducing vomiting may not always be the best course of action and can sometimes cause more harm. Only do so if specifically instructed by a veterinary professional.

  6. Transport your pet to the vet clinic: If advised by your veterinarian or the helpline, take your pet to a veterinary clinic as soon as possible. Bring the poison information and any relevant packaging with you.

  7. Follow the treatment plan: Work closely with your veterinarian to implement the recommended treatment plan for your pet and monitor their progress.

  1. recommended treatment plan for your pet and monitor their progress.

Remember, preventing poisoning is the best strategy. Keep all potentially toxic substances out of your pet's reach, and educate yourself about common household items and foods that may be harmful to your pet.





Grass Seeds


Grass seeds have pointed ends that can easily penetrate the skin, ears, eyes, nose or mouth of animals. Once attached to the pet's fur, they can burrow into the skin and cause infections, abscesses, and intense pain that requires medical attention. Therefore, it is crucial to keep your furry friend away from areas with long grass or weeds to avoid injury or illness caused by grass seeds. If a pet comes into contact with grass seeds, the symptoms may vary depending on the location of the seed and the severity of the injury. Some common symptoms include excessive licking, scratching, shaking of the head, sneezing, coughing, redness or swelling in the affected area. If the seed has penetrated the skin, you may notice a lump or abscess with discharge.


If your pet has a grass seed stuck in their skin, it is crucial to seek veterinary attention immediately. Grass seeds can cause serious complications if left untreated, and prompt treatment can prevent further injury and ensure a quick recovery for your furry friend.



Here are some steps you can take if you think your pet has a grass seed stuck in their skin:


  1. Examine the area: Gently part the fur around the affected area and look for any signs of grass seed, such as a small bump or entry point. If you're unsure or cannot see anything, it's best to consult your vet.

  2. Don't attempt to remove it yourself: Trying to remove a grass seed at home can push it further into the skin, which can cause more pain and discomfort for your pet. Instead, let your vet take care of it.

  3. Visit your vet: Your vet will examine your pet and determine the best course of action, which may involve removing the grass seed under anaesthesia or prescribing antibiotics if an infection has developed.

It is always best to seek veterinary attention if you suspect your pet has come into contact with grass seed, as prompt treatment can prevent complications and ensure a speedy recovery.


Prevention is always the best protocol. If possible, stick to walking in short grass areas. Also, regularly check for grass seeds in your pet's fur after every walk.





Summer is the perfect time for pet owners and their furry companions to enjoy the great outdoors together. However, it's crucial to be aware of the potential dangers that summer can bring. Understanding and taking preventative measures against common summer pet illnesses can help keep your pet healthy and safe throughout the summer months. Always consult with your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your pet's health. Here's to a happy and healthy summer with your pets!


Our Vital Pets Club is here! With this plan, you can access benefits including discounted microchipping and neutering, free consults and early diagnosis and treatment. Vital Pets Club also covers blood and urine tests which can help detect issues such as renal disease, as mentioned above. Do you think your pet might have something wrong with their kidneys? Call us on 020 8459 4729 to find out which plan best suits your pet!





Order Dr Hannah Parkin's Amazing Guide To Caring For Your New Puppy.
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