We’ve been lucky enough to have a guest writer for this edition of the Vets on Call blog. Dr Louise is a small animal veterinarian with experience practicing in emergency and general practice clinics across Melbourne. Enjoy!!

5 problems faced by pets over summer and the silly season

Summer in Australia is a time for enjoying the outdoors with family and friends, catching waves at the beach and celebrating the festive season with good food and drink (perhaps too much of it at times!). But what about summer for our pets? The change of season and hot days can pose many risks for our furry friends. As a vet working in Melbourne I’m here to tell you about 5 common and serious problems I see over the summer period.

  1. Ear infections in dogs

In summer dogs enjoy swimming and regularly get baths so sometimes water gets deep into the ear canal. This warm moist environment leads to an overgrowth of the normal bacteria and yeast living in your dog’s ear. Another common cause of ear infections over the summer months are due to grass seeds getting stuck down a dogs ear.

A pooch with an ear infection will often shake its head, scratch at its ear and rub it along the ground. The ear can feel hot and be sore to touch, look red, is usually full of dark wax and smell like nothing you’ve smelt before.

Grass seeds need to be removed and ear infections are treated with medications. Regularly cleaning your dogs’ ears with an ear cleaner once a week and always after a swim and bath can help keep infections (and the vet) away!

  1. Heat Stroke

Many animals like dogs and cats prevent overheating by panting, sweating through their paws and noses and seeking cool places e.g. the shade of a tree.

Heat stroke occurs when the body temperature is increased above normal because of excessive heat exposure, for example being in the hot sun for a long time or being locked in a car without the window down. Long-haired animals, animals with flat faces like pugs and old animals with preexisting diseases like heart failure are at a higher risk.

Signs of heat stroke range from mild to severe. Common signs include drooling, red gums, vomiting, wobbliness, muscle tremors and in severe cases shock and seizures. Heat stroke is a serious problem and can lead to death.  Early detection is key to ensure your pet is treated and has the best chance at recovery!

  1. Snakebites

Tiger snakes and brown snakes account for the most snakebites in pets in Victoria. Snakes hibernate in the winter and so when the weather warms up this is when we begin to see our pets getting into trouble because of snakes. Often you’ll never see a bite wound from a snake because of the fur on your pet. Signs of a snakebite can be very varied depending on the type of snake, how much venom was in the bite and the site of the snake bite. Common signs include weakness, muscle tremors, dilated pupils and vomiting and paralyses.

Diagnostics and treatment are very intensive, timely and costly. Recovery from a snakebite is variable and animals can deteriorate at any time sadly leading to death. Snakebites are very serious and require urgent veterinary care. 

  1. Allergies and insect bites

Just like people, our pets can suffer from seasonal allergies. Some pets may have red itchy eyes and others may break out in a rash. Animals coming in to contact with grasses and pollens can cause their allergies to flare up. Skin allergies will often make your pet very itchy and the skin may look red and scabby or be covered in what look like little pimples.

It’s not uncommon for our furry friends to need medicated shampoos for bathing, creams, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and the cone-of-shame to stop them itching and make them feel much better.

Pets are nosey and like putting their faces and paws in the business of bees, wasps and insects. A puffy itchy face or paw and breaking out in hives are commonly seen in our pets when stung and bitten. Some animals can go into anaphylaxis, which is a medical emergency. Anti-inflammatories and anti-histamines usually suffice if only puffiness, itchiness and hives are seen.

  1. Vomiting and diarrhoea

Summer often means BBQs and delicious feasts over the festive season. Our pets love this just as much as we do however human foods can often lead to upset stomachs for our pets. Vets see this mostly in dogs who are quick at stealing food or are good at begging their owners.

Fatty human foods can lead to pancreatitis, which is a very painful condition. Pets will no longer want to eat, seem lethargic and not quite themselves, and can vomit and develop diarrhoea. Animals with pancreatitis require veterinary treatment in hospital.

Other causes of vomiting and diarrhoea can be due to eating things toxic to pets like chocolate. Dogs and cats may vomit when they eat something that gets stuck in their stomachs or intestines e.g. a dog may eat a corncob or small ball and cats sometimes eat string and ribbon. You’d be surprised by the things vets have removed from the stomachs and intestines of pets.

Now you’re ready to enjoy summer with your furry friends.

Our vets are here to help with any of your pet-related concerns and make looking after your pets during this busy festive period convenient, stress free and transparent.

Happy holidays from Dr Louise and Vets on Call.

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