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From poisons to heatstroke in dogs – summer risks explained

July 21, 2022

We might seem like the ‘fun police’ when we say this, but did you know there are many summer dangers lurking in the great outdoors when you have dogs? The nursing team at Best Friends have created this guide on heatstroke, burns, lungworm, poisons, accidents, bloat, and stings to help Dorset dog owners enjoy a safe summer with their pets.

You can help other pet owners by emailing our article to your friends and family or by sharing it on social media – just copy the URL and share away!

If you notice any unusual behaviours or signs of illness in your dog, contact our Marlow Drive team.

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Summer Dog Dangers Guide

1. Heatstroke

Heatstroke is extremely common and can become life-threatening very quickly. Causes of heatstroke in dogs include spending too much time in the sun, exercising too much in the heat (includes walking), being stuck in a parked car or another sun trap, left without access to shade and water, and a cooling coat that has dried out. You can avoid heatstroke in dogs by avoiding these situations. A summer trim could help some dogs too.

Symptoms of heatstroke in dogs include: laboured panting, dull gums (not bright pink if they are usually), drooling, lethargy, and seizures.

If your dog displays any of the above symptoms, call us on 01202 485880 right away. In the meantime, remove your dog from the heat source and cool them down very fast using water on their coat and a cool air fan, and give them a drink.

2. Burnt paws

Dogs can easily burn their paws by walking on surfaces that are too hot – tarmac, paving stones, and concrete especially can get hot enough to burn in the summer sun. The nursing team at Best Friends have a quick & easy way for you to tell if it’s too hot. Put your hand on the surface for 5 seconds and if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your dog.

3. Bloat/GDV

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV) or Bloat is a life-threatening condition that can occur when dogs do rigorous exercise too close to a large meal – it can happen to any dog but is more common in larger and taller breeds with big chest cavities. Bloat can also happen any time of the year but is one to be aware of if you are planning some extra fun and games this season. Reduce the risk by leaving 1 hour before and 2 hours after exercise for big meals.

4. Lungworm

Left untreated, a lungworm infection can be fatal. Lungworm is spread through the slime of infected slugs and snails. Dogs typically become infected by eating these creatures or by coming into contact with contaminated dog bowls, toys, and beds that have usually been left outside. Thankfully, lungworm can be prevented through regular worming treatments – ask us about these.

5. Poisons & harmful items

Besides fun & rain, a British Summer can mean gardens awash with poisonous plants & pesticides, vegetable patches growing onions & garlic, fallen fruit with pips & stones, harmful leftovers from BBQs & picnics, rotting food in compost heaps, and access to poisons through open sheds & garages.

Our Christchurch team of Vet Nurses recommend that pet owners should be extra vigilant this summer when it comes to poisons and harmful items, and either remove them or prevent access. If you have any suspicions that your dog has dabbled, don’t delay – call us on 01202 485880 for emergency advice.

6. Accidents

Can you avoid accidents? Some, yes, by thinking ahead. Our Veterinary Nurses suggest walking around your garden to try and spot as many potential accidents ‘waiting to happen’, and create a to-do-list – e.g. “remove broken glass from behind shed” and “block up hole in hedge”.

You can think ahead when you are out with your dog too; look at roads, parked cars, potential escape routes, bodies of water, and the activities of people nearby. Just by being consciously aware of your surroundings you can avoid many problems.

7. Insect stings & animal bites

With the great outdoors comes many biting & stinging insects, and the odd snake. Keep an eye on your dog as they investigate nose-first and have a pet first aid kit and your Vet’s number at the ready – ours is 01202 485880.

You can also help your dog have a safe and happy summer by:

1. Always having water and a bowl with you

2. Considering your dog’s wellbeing in each situation and surroundings

3. Using preventative measures to help avoid many summer dangers

Before you go, remember to share our safety guide by email and on social media to help other dog owners like you. if you have any concerns about your dog, we are here to help.

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