Summer exposes pets to many dangers
Summer provides balmy days that invite outdoor adventures and exciting excursions but, for your pet, the season can bring dangers and discomforts.
Veterinarian Sophie Neilson has been working at the Rangiora Vet Centre for eight years and has seen the consequence of many summerassociated hazards that have befallen animals.
With qualifications from the Royal Vet College, London, in
2004, Sophie has treated several species but now focuses on cats, dogs and small pets.
She warns pet owners to be vigilant as she identifies some of the risks their animals confront when venturing out with their human families.
Heatstroke is a common affliction and symptoms include seizures, bright red gums, collapse, anxiety, excessive panting, salivation and vomiting. Some cases may be fatal or result in organ failure.
‘‘If you suspect heatstroke, hose your dog with cold water and place ice packs on their groin and throat area,’’ Sophie says.
‘‘Call your vet immediately. Don’t leave your pet in an unattended vehicle or exercise them heavily in the heat. Ideally, keep them inside, use air conditioning and provide two bowls of water in case one gets emptied.’’
Roads and pathways absorb heat and are best avoided at certain times. Touch-test the surfaces before using them.
Toxic algae may inhabit rivers. Check with your local council or ECan before giving pets access to them although they do not monitor all sites. Dogs are at risk when they ingest the algae.
‘‘Toxic blue/green algae can be fatal when ingested,’’ Sophie says.
‘‘Black/brown algae can also be toxic. Death can occur quickly so seek veterinary assistance immediately.’’
Symptoms include lethargy, tremors, twitching, paralysis, seizures and vomiting.
Grass seeds have tiny barbs and can stick to the fur and travel through skin. They may invade the feet, ears, eyes, nose, mouth, bottom, groin and armpit. They can cause eye ulcers, ruptured ear drums and other problems.
‘‘Thoroughly examine your pet regularly for seeds (especially in the places listed),’’ Sophie advises.
‘‘Brush and trim them frequently and monitor for head shaking, excessive licking, discharge, redness, holes or swelling.’’
Lilies are toxic to cats and cause kidney failure. Poinsettias, ivy and mistletoe can also harm animals.
Candles and lights can easily be interfered with by pets.
‘‘Vomiting, diarrhoea and tummy pain could indicate your pet has ingested an object that may require surgery,’’ she says.
Grapes and raisins can cause acute kidney failure so keep these out of paw’s reach as even small amounts can be fatal.
‘‘Kidney disease can cause vomiting, inappetence, dehydration, increased thirst, mouth ulcers and smelly breath.’’
Garlic, onions, leeks, chives and shallots can cause anaemia and stomach upset while fruit stones, seeds and almonds present a choking hazard and can also cause intestinal obstruction. Some stones contain cyanide which can cause cardiac arrest and death.
Alcohol (ethanol) may give your pet low blood-sugar, resulting in coma, seizures and hypothermia. Watch out for bones.
‘‘Splintering causes mouth, throat and gastrointestinal system injuries,’’ Sophie says.
‘‘Dispose of bones carefully. High levels of bone marrow and associated meat can cause pancreatitis.
‘‘Some bones, when digested, end up as a concrete-like substance causing severe constipation.’’
Fatty foods, including nuts, can cause stomach upset and pancreatitis which are preventable, serious and painful illnesses that may be costly to treat.
In addition to this: macadamias can cause neurological problems; walnuts can cause bowel obstructions and neurological symptoms (if they are mouldy) and Brazil nuts carry a high selenium content.
If your pet encounters any of these scenarios, Sophie recommends contacting your vet for advice.
‘‘Usually the quicker intervention is sought, the easier and more successful the treatment can be,’’ she says.
‘‘We hope you enjoy summer with your pet and have a safe and happy festive season.’’
Sophie Neilson, right, reassures a 5-month-old golden labrador, Dakota, before she undergoes a procedure.