Keep­ing your pets happy in the sum­mer heat

A Gor­don vet’s ad­vice on sum­mer pet care for your furry friends*

Monthly Chronicle - - Front Page - HE­LEN BURNS GOR­DON VET­ERI­NARY HOSPI­TAL Gor­don Vet­eri­nary Hospi­tal was awarded the 2017 Hornsby Lo­cal Busi­ness Award for Out­stand­ing Pet Care. It has been serv­ing the North Shore for more than 40 years. We pride our­selves on pro­vid­ing pro­fes­sional pet ca

Sum­mer is upon us - be­fore we all think about hol­i­days, let’s make some prepa­ra­tions for our pets to en­sure they en­joy the next few months as much as we do.

The deadly paral­y­sis tick

Ticks are most preva­lent over spring and sum­mer across the North Shore, and are most likely found in bushy ar­eas, near the coast, and any­where vis­ited by pos­sums or bandi­coots. Tick con­trol is es­sen­tial for all dogs and cats with ac­cess to the out­doors. As vets, we’re fre­quently faced with dis­traught own­ers who thought that their pet was cov­ered for ticks, only to find that the prod­uct they were us­ing wasn’t ef­fec­tive against ticks, or wasn’t be­ing used ap­pro­pri­ately. Im­por­tant ques­tions to ask your­self are:

• Is the prod­uct safe for your pet? If you have a cat, is the prod­uct safe for cats? • Does the prod­uct cover paral­y­sis ticks? • Is it be­ing used at the cor­rect fre­quency?

De­spite the fact that paral­y­sis ticks may be only a few mil­lime­tres in size, they in­ject a deadly toxin which paral­y­ses mus­cles and signs will emerge two to three days after the tick starts to feed and in­ject toxin. Ini­tially, af­fected pets may just be less ac­tive, or re­luc­tant to climb stairs or jump up. Over the course of a few hours this can progress to more sig­nif­i­cant wob­bli­ness of their legs, par­tic­u­larly their hind legs. If left un­treated, pa­tients may be­come com­pletely paral­ysed and un­able to move and left un­treated they can die.

Tick paral­y­sis signs to look out for:

• Limb paral­y­sis, • Vom­it­ing or retch­ing and ap­petite and thirst loss, • Laboured breath­ing with a loss of voice and some­times a hoarse miaow or bark.

If you find a tick on your pet, whether they’re show­ing signs of tick paral­y­sis or not, ei­ther re­move the tick your­self or ask a vet to. The sooner your pet is treated, the bet­ter their chances of re­cov­ery. Don't adopt a ‘wait and see’ ap­proach.

Pre­ven­tion is of course bet­ter than a cure! Even with the use of tick pre­ven­ta­tives, we rec­om­mend daily tick searches of your pets. Find a quiet spot where you won't be dis­tracted and run your fin­gers slowly over your pet's skin. It's im­por­tant to work in a pat­tern so that at the end of the tick search you can be con­fi­dent that you have searched their whole body. Re­mem­ber that it's the skin that you’re feel­ing and not the coat. Al­ways dou­ble check their head, neck and shoul­ders, be­cause ticks have a pref­er­ence for the front half of the body.

Heat stress & heat stroke

We all seek out cool spots on hot sum­mer days, and our pets are no dif­fer­ent. Whether you have a cat, dog or pocket pet, it’s es­sen­tial that they have ac­cess to cool, shady spots, and a plen­ti­ful sup­ply of fresh wa­ter. To en­cour­age drink­ing, place ex­tra wa­ter bowls around so they’re more ac­ces­si­ble. Ac­cess to a tiled room can let your pets cool their belly. Ad­di­tion­ally, for those lucky dogs with a pool, a dip in the pool, or for those with­out, a play un­der the hose or sprin­kler can help to cool them down.

Never leave any pet unat­tended in a car. Cars rapidly turn into an oven in the sun and pets can over­heat in a mat­ter of min­utes.

If you have a dog, avoid walk­ing them in the heat of the day. In­stead go for a short walk in the morn­ing and evening.

Take care with feed­ing your dog frozen bones. We fre­quently see frac­tured teeth from dogs en­thu­si­as­ti­cally crunch­ing on items that are too hard for their teeth.

Own­ers of short-nosed breeds like box­ers, bull­dogs and pugs need to be ex­tra vig­i­lant too - they pant in­ef­fi­ciently and are at an in­creased risk of heat stroke.


We don’t of­ten think of pets get­ting sun­burnt, but skin can­cer is seen all too fre­quently in our four-legged fam­ily mem­bers. White cats reg­u­larly de­velop squa­mous cell car­ci­no­mas on their ear tips and nose, Dal­ma­tians, Staffies and other sun­bak­ers are prone to sim­i­lar le­sions on their sen­si­tive belly skin.

Like us, it’s best to avoid the peak sun­light hours by keep­ing your pets in­doors be­tween 10am and 2pm.

Avoid sun­screens con­tain­ing zinc ox­ide for dogs, and those con­tain­ing sal­i­cy­lates for cats. These com­pounds are toxic to dogs and cats if eaten.

Thun­der­storms & fire­works

There’s noth­ing quite like a sum­mer thun­der­storm to clear the air after a scorch­ing hot day, or the ex­cite­ment of the New Year’s Eve fire­works. Spare a thought though for our pets for whom the all per­va­sive sud­den noise, flash­ing lights and changes in baro­met­ric pres­sure can cause great dis­tress. An­i­mals may show mild signs of anx­i­ety such as panting, pac­ing or at­ten­tion seek­ing, or this may es­ca­late into se­vere anx­i­ety demon­strated by drool­ing, trem­bling and de­struc­tive be­hav­iour. There are a few ac­tions you can take to help the sit­u­a­tion. Pro­vide a con­fined space to help your pet feel se­cure, close win­dows and blinds to block out the lights, try play­ing mu­sic to drown out the noise, and con­sider re­lax­ation ex­er­cises. Ei­ther a gen­tle mas­sage be­hind the ears, or calmly giv­ing your dogs com­mands, fol­lowed by pat or treat re­ward, can give them some­thing pos­i­tive to fo­cus on and help them re­lax. Ask­ing them to sit, then drop, then stay and look, then ro­tat­ing through the cy­cle can help to set­tle them.

Fur­ther com­fort can be gained by the use of a com­pres­sion jacket, a de­sen­si­ti­za­tion pro­gram from your vet, or the use of pheromones and med­i­ca­tion to re­duce anx­i­ety. Talk to your vet about these so­lu­tions.


Be­fore you head off, en­sure that you have plans in place for your pets. Are their vac­ci­na­tions, worm­ing and flea and tick con­trol up to date? Are their mi­crochip de­tails and your con­tact num­bers cor­rect? Are they reg­is­tered with the lo­cal coun­cil? It’s also worth en­sur­ing that your pet is wear­ing a col­lar and tag with your up to date con­tact de­tails so that you can be re­united quickly if they get lost.


Some as­pects of the fes­tive sea­son you may not have thought about... • Flow­ers: Lilies are highly poi­sonous to cats and de­spite this, many cats will try to eat lilies. • Party food: can poi­sonous in the case of choco­late and onions , or if the food is fatty, it can leave pets with a lifethreat­en­ing bout of pan­cre­ati­tis. • Peace and quiet: while cel­e­brat­ing, en­sure your pets have a quiet spot where they can rest undis­turbed dur­ing par­ties, away from ex­ces­sive ad­mi­ra­tion which may of­ten dis­tress an an­i­mal.

* The Monthly Chron­i­cle recog­nises that cats, dogs and rab­bits are only a small selec­tion of the wide range of an­i­mals we love to keep at home. It’s only for rea­sons of space we have fo­cused here on those breeds as they’re the most pop­u­lar.

Dogs love the beach as much as we do, but watch out for sun­burn

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