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Love your pet ... love your vet - July 2011

Summertime: The heat is on!

The onset of summer weather brings with it the prospect of warm lazy days and longer evenings, but it's worth sparing a thought for all of our pets. There are numerous hazards associated with the season that should be borne in mind – here are a few tips:

Heat can be a real killer for many pets! It's a good idea to avoid exercising pets in the heat of the day, particularly old overweight dogs with heart problems; stick to early mornings and later on in the evenings. You may also want to consider trimming dogs' coats, as this will keep them cooler during the summer months. It is also advisable to take water out with you whilst on walks.

Heat can also be a big problem for guinea pigs and rabbits. Unfortunately, every summer guinea pigs and rabbits die of heatstroke. Ensure plenty of water is provided daily and position any runs and/or hutches in a shady spot.

Flies also pose a huge problem for rabbits in the warmer months. Rabbit rear ends often become damp and this moist area attracts flies which can lay their eggs there. These in turn hatch out into maggots, which burrow through the rabbit's skin and into the underlying flesh. During the summer months, rabbit rear ends should be inspected on a daily basis for fly eggs and maggots. If you are in any way concerned about this you should contact your vet immediately.

Grass seeds are another summer-time problem – the grass awns of the meadow grasses are easily trapped in the coats of pets – especially dogs. They then migrate and become lodged in a variety of places including the ears and between the toes. It is always a good idea to groom your pets regularly and especially after walks to keep a close eye out for grass seeds. You should also be on the lookout for ticks as these can also attach themselves to passing pets and can pass on infections such as Lyme disease and Babesiosis.

The sun itself can also pose a hazard. Pets, especially cats, with white ear tips and noses are particularly at risk from sunburn which can lead to cancerous changes in the sunburnt areas. You should apply high factor sunblock to the at risk (white) areas to help minimise this risk.

Also watch out for bee and wasp stings that may require prompt veterinary attention since some dogs are allergic to their stings.

Always remember that the temperature in cars can rise very rapidly and death from heat stroke can follow in a matter of minutes – NEVER leave pets unattended in cars during the warmer months.

Keith Moore BVSc MRCVS is a Veterinary Surgeon at Hillside Veterinary Centre in Corfe Mullen. For more information visit Follow us on Facebook.

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Last Updated: 29th June 2011