Summer, Summer, Summer-time!

Will Smith’s ‘summer-time’ anthem may just be over-played this year, with a summer which started early in May with a sudden and persistent hot spell.

Sunshine really does put us all in a good mood and signifies a season of barbeques, sun-cream and trips to outdoor events with friends and family. Does it instil the same happiness in our animals? With fur coats on, its stands to reason the hot weather, particularly peak-heat 11am-3pm, may be uncomfortable, to say the least. That said, there is a lot we can do to ease the heat for our fur companions and create just as much fun as we have in Summer.

The beauty of this part of the UK, is our coastline. There is a lot of different types of beach along the Suffolk/Norfolk coast, so there is something for everyone. A particular recommendation is the ‘doggy beach’ in Wells-next-the-Sea. It has a dog friendly beach, a dog friendly café with doggy meals, treats and ice-creams, drinking bowls and a doggy shower to wash away the sand. Even with our cold North Sea, we would still recommend avoiding playing on the beach in the midday heat. There are also dog friendly hotels and restaurants along this part of the coastline too, for a nice relaxing evening with your dog.

Family barbeques are something to avoid for our pets. It may come as a surprise but barbecues are steaming with hazards, from meat skewers to corn-on-the-cobs. We are sad to report that annually, we have to perform surgery to remove them from the intestines of many dogs. Fatty leftovers are known to contribute to pancreatitis in our canine companions as well as the barbecue itself being a burn hazard.

Cats and dogs with white or hairless ear tips would benefit from high-factor sun-cream applied before going outside on sunny days.

Lawn sprinklers, children’s plastic swimming pools and walks with clean lakes/stream provide fun play areas, whilst keeping your pet cool. Pet cool mats and cool jackets are novel but often are an effective aid for travelling or sleeping on at night. Tarmac and concrete also gets too hot for the pads of our pets and already this year we have had several patients arrive to us with burns on their paws from the ground on hot, sunny days. Please be aware of this and try standing on the ground in your bare feet. If it is too hot for you to stand on comfortably, then the same applies for your pet so keep them indoors.

Looking at all the warnings we see on the television and social media, it is hard to believe this still happens as often as it does. A local supermarket recently reported approximately 3 cases per week where a dog is left in a car and members of the public sound the alarm or even break a window of the car to allow the dog relief. The inside of a car can reach oven-hot temperatures and patients will suffer heatstroke, at best, at worse, they are at risk of fatality.

Heatstroke symptoms include panting, lethargy, excessive drooling, reddened gums, producing little or no urine through dehydration, rapid heart rate, vomiting or diarrhoea, collapsing or staggering and a high body temperature. If you suspect any of these symptoms in your pet, you know where we are 24 hours, 7 days a week.

Article by Rachel Phillips BVetMed MRCVS