How to keep your pet safe and well this summer
OK, so we haven't had the greatest of summers so far. But when it finally improves, you should be prepared to ensure that your pet doesn't succumb to the hazards that the hot weather can bring. Vet Marc Abraham advises on the dangers to look out for during the summertime
We're all aware of the risks associated with hot weather, with most of us taking precautions to avoid painful sunburn, annoying allergies and the dreaded heatstroke. But are we protecting our pets enough to allow them to enjoy summer too?
For example, white cats are extremely prone to sunburn, which can quickly turn into serious skin cancer, especially on the tips of the nose and ears. You should always apply non-toxic sunblock to these areas, and if you notice any skin changes such as reddening, contact your vet immediately.
All responsible rabbit owners fear flystrike, a common condition that occurs during warmer weather, when damp, smelly rabbits' bottoms attract egg-laying flies. These eggs quickly hatch to produce hungry flesh-eating maggots. It's an extremely serious disease, with all rabbits at risk 'especially obese or older bunnies' and is often fatal unless treated immediately. However, it is preventable: remember to check your rabbit's bottom at least twice daily throughout the warmer months, and attach an old net curtain to the front of the hutch to prevent flies getting in.
Spaniel owners will know about the dreaded grass seed. These small, sharp arrows, easily attach themselves to your dog's coat - especially the soft, feathery fur between pads. If allowed to progress further, they can burrow up through the skin, or even become trapped in eyelids or ear canals - the latter indicated by head-shaking and sudden discomfort. So, when returning from walks, inspect your dog's coat thoroughly - better still, prevent this painful (and expensive) problem from happening in the first place by taking time to clip the fur from its feet and around its ears.
Bees and wasps are also potential hazards at this time of year, as inquisitive puppies and kittens venture out to explore their new gardens, often disturbing stinging insects - then trying to eat them! Similarly, dogs rummaging around in undergrowth when off the lead are also at risk from adder bites, with affected areas quickly becoming swollen and painful. Contact your vet immediately if you suspect your dog has been attacked.
Older and brachycephalic (short-nosed) dogs, such as bulldogs and pugs, should be walked early in the morning and later at night to avoid the higher temperatures that could make breathing and exercise difficult.
Finally, never leave dog in cars, even with windows slightly ajar - sadly, it happens every year, and dogs die.
I hope your pets share happy, safe summers with you all!
Marc Abraham is a TV vet who regularly gives the nation pet advice This Morning, BBC Breakfast and Daybreak. As well as promoting responsible pet ownership, rescue pet adoption, microchipping and responsible dog breeding, Marc is also an active campaigner against the puppy farming industry and is the founder of Pup Aid. Marc has also written the books Vet on Call and Pets in Need and also has the Canine Care iPhone app for dog owners. For more about Marc, visit www.marcthevet.com or follow him on Twitter @marcthevet