Below is an aide memoir by vet, Dr Vicki Adams, with some useful points to help you advise and support your clients and their pets in the coming months.
Pet suffer from sunburn too, especially pets that have hair loss due to allergies, hot spots, surgical preparation, chemotherapy or radiation therapy. In pets, sunburn can appear as red skin or hair loss. Sunburn can irritate or exacerbate existing conditions, such as allergies or hot spots. Many people have their pet’s fur trimmed to help them manage in hot weather but this can make them more susceptible to sunburn, groomers should warn pet owners of this possibility.
Provide protection from the sun – sunscreen can and should be used on our pets. Sunscreen can be applied to the bridge of the nose, ear tips, skin surrounding the lips, and any area where pigmentation is low. Animals that have white fur, pink skin, light coloured noses or thin, very short or missing fur are most in need of protective sunscreen or sun block. The groin, inside legs and abdomen may also need sunscreen because hair tends to be very thin in these areas and ultraviolet light can reflect off of certain surfaces to affect that skin. There are sunscreens created specifically for pets.
Cats, dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs do not sweat through their skin like humans, so they are not as efficient at cooling down. They pant to release heat and they sweat through the foot pads and nose. Limiting the amount of time a pet spends outdoors during the hottest hours of the day is important. Certain types of pets are more sensitive to hear and therefore, more susceptible to heatstroke including overweight and obese pets, very young and very old animals and brachycephalis (short-nosed) breeds of cats and dogs such as Persians, Pugs, Bulldogs and Boston Terriers. Signs of heatstroke include excessive panting, dry or tacky and dark red tongue and gums, vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy or collapse of body temperature of greater than 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Farenheit). In rabbit, laboured breathing , flaring of the nostrils and distress are all signs of heat stress. Some animals can recover fully from heat stoke if it is caught early enough and treated appropriately. Others may suffer from seizures and permanent organ damage and require lifelong treatment. Sadly, many pets do not survive heat stroke. Prevention is the key.
How to prevent heatstroke – take early morning and evening outdoor play and walks and avoid vigorous exercise on warm days. Ensure there is plenty of fresh drinking water, even ice cubes. Reduce a pets body temperature using chilled wet towels. Never leave an animal alone in the car even if the weather is not hot, the inside of the car acts like an oven and the temperature can rise to dangerously high levels in a matter of minutes. Ensure there is access to cool shady areas to escape from the heat, even indoors. Do not confine a pet to any room where the temperature may be especially high, such as a sunroom. Groom more frequently in summer months to help remove excess hair.
Avoid Water Hazards
Even dogs that are good swimmers need to be protected around water. Animal life jackets can aid flotation and retrieval. A ramp is an excellent accessory on a boat or a pool and could save the life of a pet that has fallen into the water unattended. Toxic waters – blue-green algae can be found on the surface of warm, slow or still lakes, ponds and wetlands. If faced with an accidental ingestion of toxic algae water, immediately wash off the pet’s coat (to prevent self cleaning contamination) and take to the vet if there are any troublesome signs.
Fleas, ticks, lice and mites are just some of the parasites that are abundant in the summer. Adult fleas spend most of their time on an animal, but flea eggs, larvae and pupae are most often found in the pet’s environment.
Prevention is better than cure but the steps are the same for a successful flea control programme. You must treat the environment as well as the pet. Ticks – as the weather gets warmer, people spend more time outdoors and ticks become more active. Ticks can carry a number of infective organisms that can sometimes make people and pets ill and potentially cause serious medical problems. How a tick is removed is extremely important. There are a number of tick removal tools on the market. All claim to be safe and efficient but proper use is vital.