Keeping your pet healthy and happy this summer

editorial image

Summer is a great time for pets and their owners, but vets are warning about the hidden risks to pets during the warmest season of the year.

Heatstroke, pesky parasites and open water can all pose dangers to pets.

To help pet owners, vets have compiled a summer pet guide, full of information and top tips on how to enjoy the summer with a healthy and happy pet.

Dr Huw Stacey, director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, said: “There is a lot that pet owners need to take into consideration throughout the summer months, which is why we’ve produced this summer guide.

“High temperatures can be very dangerous for many pets, as hot weather can make roads and pavements too hot to walk on, particularly for pets’ sensitive paws and pads. So walking dogs at cooler times of the day can help avoid burnt feet.

“Owners must also remember to never leave their pet in a car, conservatory or caravan on a warm day. Even if it feels mild outside, the temperature inside can reach up to 40 degrees in just 30 minutes.

“To help keep smaller pets cool, including rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs, it is always best to move indoor cages out of direct sunlight and outdoor hutches into a shaded part of the garden or even inside the house.

“All pets should also always have a supply of fresh water, whether that is in the garden, on holiday, or in the car. This will decrease their chances of becoming dehydrated or suffering from heatstroke.”

Between January and June last year 55,733 pet passports were issued to pet owners who wanted to take their pets away with them on holiday abroad.

“Before you travel anywhere, abroad or in the UK, you need to pack your pet’s essential documentation, have the local vet’s details for wherever you are staying, check your pet is microchipped and their vaccinations and treatments are up-to-date,” said Dr Stacey.

“If you are travelling in a car with your pet, putting them in a crate is usually the safest option, but owners need to make regular stops so their pet can stretch or go to the toilet.

“When travelling abroad with your pet, talk to your local vet about pet passports.

“If you are leaving your pet with family, friends or at a kennels or cattery, make sure they have all the correct food, equipment and medicines.

“It is always best to drop in on a kennel or cattery to check it over first and ask the appropriate questions, before you book your pet in.

“All reputable kennels are licensed by the local authority and insist on seeing proof of vaccinations against diseases like Kennel Cough.”

Kennel Cough affected approximately 65,000 dogs last year and is passed between dogs that come in to close proximity with each other. As such it is commonly picked up when dogs are staying in kennels.

“The vaccination lasts for around a year and should be administered at least two weeks before their stay at the kennels,” said Dr Stacey.

The warmer weather throughout the summer acts as a breeding ground for pesky parasites like fleas, ticks and maggots.

“Owners need to check their pets whenever they have been outdoors, particularly dogs and cats that have been wandering outside in longer grass,” added Dr Stacey.

“Flystrike is an unpleasant condition for rabbits, so hutches should always be kept clean and their bedding must be fresh and dry, so flies aren’t attracted into their hutch.

“Contracting ticks, fleas and flystrike can be easily prevented if owners keep their pet’s treatments up-to-date and their pet and its living area as clean as possible.

“Summer is a great time to enjoy holidays and fun outdoor activities with pets. Our simple guide is designed to help pets and their owners enjoy the best summer possible with a happy and healthy pet.”

Top tips:

Kennels and catteries

· When picking a kennels or cattery, drop in and ask to look around, check to see if it is licensed by the local authority, check the pets are housed individually and that the living area is warm, secure, clean and dry

· A good kennels will insist on seeing proof of vaccinations and ask questions about your pet e.g. their diet and medication

· Vaccinate your dog against Kennel Cough, as many kennels will only accept dogs that are vaccinated against the disease

Travelling around the UK:

· If driving long distances, it’s advisable to use a pet crate

· Exercise your pet before any long journey so they are more likely to settle and rest in the car

· If it is a warm day, keep a window open to help keep your pet cool

· Make regular stops so your pet can stretch their legs and go to the toilet

· Pack all necessary documentation, temporary ID tag, medication, a favourite toy, all the food and water you need and their bowls

· Take extra care near open water including lakes, rivers and the sea. Strong currents are often hidden, particularly in the sea

· Keep your dog on a lead when walking on a cliff or coastal path

Pet passports and travelling abroad:

· Consider whether or not your pet will benefit from accompanying you on the trip, particularly if you are going to a country with a different weather climate

· Your pet must be microchipped, at least 15 weeks old, be up-to-date with all annual vaccines, be vaccinated against rabies, treated for tapeworm (dogs only) and been issued with a pet passport before you travel abroad

· Visit your local vet for advice on getting a pet passport

General summer advice:

· Ensure your pet always has fresh water so they don’t get dehydrated

· Avoid leaving your pet in a greenhouse or conservatory in the direct sun, as it can act as a suntrap and can lead to heatstroke

· The signs of heatstroke include a rise in body temperature, rapid panting, reddened gums and tongue, a rapid heart rate, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhoea

· If you think your pet is suffering from heatstroke, seek veterinary help immediately

· Walk your dog in cooler periods of the day i.e. early morning and late evening

· Ensure your pet is receiving regular preventative treatment against fleas and ticks to help keep them safe, but also check them over and brush them after every walk

· Keep your rabbit, their hutch and bedding as clean as possible to help prevent flystrike

· Toys and garden tools should always be put away after being used

· Don’t leave any food out after a BBQ or a picnic

· Many foods are toxic to pets including garlic, grapes, nuts, chocolate, raisins/sultanas and alcohol