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Summer fun for pets

As the summer gets into full swing, here are some summer tips and facts: from heatstroke to what to do when you’re going on holiday...

This summer, I'm taking my pet to the...

Taking your pet to the beach

  • Avoid visiting in the middle of the day when it's hottest. Hot sand can burn your pet's paws
  • Drinking salt water can cause an upset stomach, so carry plenty of fresh water to keep your dog hydrated
  • Always keep an eye on your dog in the water. Dogs can swim but can get into difficulty just like people, especially in open water
  • Saltwater can irritate a dog's skin, so give them a rinse with fresh water after their splash in the sea
  • Lots of things can wash up on the beach, and may cause a curious pet harm. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t pick up anything left lying around
dog next to tent

Taking your pet camping

  • Pack your dog's bed and blanket to keep them warm if temperatures drop at night and to help them feel secure
  • Keep your dog away from campfires as flying embers could burn them
  • Keep toxic chemicals, like citronella candles, out of reach
  • Don't feed your dog meat on bones as they can splinter easily and become a choking risk
  • Substitute anything glass, that could smash and cut your pet's paws, for plastic

 

Garden safety

  • Many dogs love water, so splash around in a paddling pool, or with a hosepipe to help cool them down
  • Don’t spray water into your dog’s mouth – too much water ingestion in a short time can cause problems for pets
  • Create shady areas for your cat to hide in and keep cool
  • Rabbits love to run around and explore, so make sure your garden is safe and secure and doesn't contain any toxic plants
  • Prevent flystrike by keeping your rabbit's hutch clean and dry. Apply preventative treatment and check their bottom daily
  • Keep scraps of BBQ food away from your pets, as it could upset their stomach
  • Ensure your bins are secure so your pet can't sniff out and eat anything that could harm them
Pub Safety

Taking your pet to the pub

  • Before entering an establishment, check that dogs are welcome
  • Feed your dog first if they're going to be around food to minimise food envy
  • Walk your dog beforehand, as they are more likely to rest
  • Ensure you have water and a couple of treats to keep your pet settled
  • Keep them on their lead to avoid an unexpected incident
  • Don’t give them any alcohol as this is very dangerous for pets
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Taking your pet to the park

  • Make sure your dog is controlled, in good health and their vaccinations are up to date if they're going to be around other dogs
  • Is your dog trained to recognise your commands? Know their temperament when around other dogs
  • Use rubber toys such as Frisbees or balls, as plastic and especially wooden sticks, can splinter and cause serious injury 
  • Take an umbrella for shade so your pet can rest and keep cool
  • Ensure your pet has had their preventative treatments against ticks, fleas and worms
  • Check your pet when you get home for any parasites or grass seeds
The hot weather can cause real problems for our pets. To keep your pet happy and healthy all summer long, follow these simple top tips from the vets and nurses at Vets4Pets.
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Cats

Originating from the desert, cats are generally very comfortable in the heat and can often be found stretched out sunbathing. When it gets hot in the summer months, cats mainly cool down by sleeping and resting more, in cool shady spots.

Summer tips for cats

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Dogs

Most dogs are sensible in the heat, but remember that they can easily overheat when playing games and running, so be careful when playing games or exercising them. To be safe, it is best to walk your dog during the cooler morning and evening hours in the summer months. This will also avoid sore paws from walking on hot tarmac.

Summer tips for dogs

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Rabbits

On hot days, be sure to check your pets several times to ensure they are comfortable. Signs of overheating can vary, but restlessness, fast/shallow breathing (or even panting), wetness around the nose, hot ears, uncoordinated/wobbly movements and even seizures are all signs of heatstroke. 

Summer tips for rabbits

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Fish

If you are only going away for a couple of days, most fish should be fine without food. For any longer trips the best thing is to have a trusted, knowledgeable friend or neighbour pop over to check up on and feed your fish.

There are automatic feeders available which work on a timer, and dispense food into the water according to a schedule you program into it. Also available are feeder ‘blocks’, which will dispense food over a period of time. Feeder blocks however often end up being eaten early on in the period you are away, running the risk of overfeeding. As a general rule it is better to under feed than over feed fish. Ask your vet for specific advice.

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Reptiles

Most vivariums have lights and heat lamps which operate on a timer which is perfect if you’re going on holiday. However, it's best to get someone to check up on your reptile regularly, even if they don’t need feeding every day. Remember to make sure you check your pet sitter isn’t scared of bugs! If you cannot find a friend or family member to help you out, it may be worth looking out for a professional pet sitter. 

No matter who you ask, it is extremely important to leave detailed instructions as different reptile’s dietary needs can vary a lot. Leaving a couple of emergency numbers, such as your vet, for example, can be useful in case anything goes wrong. If possible, try prepping food and water in advance. Spare UVB light bulbs are useful to have around the house just in case a bulb needs replacing while you are away.

Finally, a pre-trip check-up with your vet is a good idea, to give you peace of mind before you head off.

Feeding your bird

Birds

Some people will take their pet with them when going on holiday but remember birds get easily stressed as travel and a change of environment are not always ideal, so a pet sitter might be best. This can be a neighbour, friend, family member or even a professional pet sitter.

Always leave detailed instructions because different breeds have different maintenance needs and you will need to plan accordingly. Higher maintenance breeds such as parrots and cockatoos do not do well alone for extended time periods. Birds are intelligent, social creatures so think about enriching their cage with toys and even leaving the radio or TV on during the day. 

The more you can prep in advance for your pet sitter, the less you have to worry about their diet for the duration of your leave. Some foods can be frozen so separate these into individual meals to ensure a healthy diet. Some birds may take advantage of a newcomer and hold out on healthy meals for treats – so make sure your pet sitter is aware of this, and only gives treats sparingly!


Preparing your pet for the heat

Even here in the UK, where the weather is somewhat unpredictable, the heat can prove a problem for pets in the summer months.


Many pets love sunbathing but will often choose an inappropriate spot. Avoid leaving them in a suntrap such as a conservatory, greenhouse, or tent and never leave your dog in a parked car on a hot day, not even for a minute. Heat stroke kills rapidly, so make sure you know the signs:


•    panting

•    drooling

•    a rapid heart rate

•    very red gums/tongue

•    lethargy

•    lack of coordination

•    reluctance or inability to rise after collapsing

•    vomiting

•    diarrhoea

•    loss of consciousness in extreme circumstances.

  

More information on spotting heatstroke in dogs


Common summer ailments and conditions

In the summer, when your pets are out and about more than in the winter months, the warm weather aids the growth of bugs and bacteria that can lead to a host of common summer ailments including fleas, worms and flystrike. And, if your pet isn’t neutered, there’s also the risk of pregnancy even in kittens and puppies as young as 6-9 months. 


In this video, we look at these things in more detail and give you top tips and advice on dealing with them.


Taking your pet with you on holiday

Your pets are part of the family and, if you can take them away with you when you go away on holiday, all the better. There are lots of pet friendly campsites, hotels and B&B’s throughout the UK and in the EU, but its not only your accommodation to you have to plan ahead for.
    
In this video, we examine everything from which pets you can take away, short and long journeys and dealing with the heat; to pet passports, vaccinations and what to look for in a resort or location.


More information on pet passports


Leaving your pet when you go on holiday

Sometimes it’s not possible to take your pet on holiday with you and, of course, you want to be sure they’re well looked after when you’re away. We’re often asked for advice here in our clinics on the best options for the pets we look after and we’re happy to give suggestions based on individual circumstances.

In this video we look at the pros and cons of pet sitting, dog boarding, kennels or cattery, or simply having a friend or neighbour popping in once or twice a day.