Protect your pets in the summer sun

SUMMER has finally arrived and even in the North East we are basking in sunshine. While we all feel a little happier in the warm weather it does come with its problems, mainly sun burn and heat stroke, both for us and our pets.

I spent last weekend on call and saw several dogs that were suffering from ‘heat stroke’. The signs are very similar to those seen in humans with panting, drooling, lethargy and disorientation in the early stages, with severely affected animals collapsing and suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea.

Most commonly affected dogs are the brachycephalic breeds — those with short noses e.g. pugs or bulldogs. Any overweight or heavily coated dogs are also more at risk. It is important to remember though that any dog can be affected and it is sensible to always be aware of how the heat affects our pets.

The well-publicised campaign by the RSPCA to protect dogs in hot cars is well known among almost all dog owners and as the campaign says, it is important to remember that it may be 22c outside, but it could be over 40c in a car.

The dogs I saw this weekend had been nowhere near a car. They had been taken for walks and in one case only for 30 minutes. It is important to try to take your dog for a walk at the cooler times of the day and always take some water with you. There is a huge range of collapsible bowls that fit in your pocket.

Sunburn is another problem. Most pets will suffer if they have areas of unpigmented skin, basically any pink bits. Any noses should be protected, along with ear tips on white animals. The best protection is high-factor suncream that should be applied regularly. As well as dogs with heat-stroke, there have been a large number of horses with sunburnt noses, ears and areas around their eyes.

The weather has finally provided a great window for farmers cutting and gathering their silage and hay, and certainly it seems like an awfully long time since hay bales sat in the fields bathed in sunshine. It takes me back to my childhood when picnics were had in hay fields and time was spent sunbathing on or cooling off behind these bales. It won’t be long before a pair of wellies or sometimes two will be seen sticking out a hay bale that is easily visible from the road, giving any observant drivers a little chuckle.

Finally we would like to welcome our new vet, Richard Flook, to the practice. Richard joins us from university and we hope he enjoys the varied workload that our busy practice has to offer.

By KATE MATHESON, Director and Senior Vet

l Last week’s column was written by Chris Green, not Sam Prescott as stated. We apologise for the error.