Summer season is a wonderful time of year for our pets – from playing in the garden, to summer holidays, there’s plenty to enjoy – but the lovely sunshine doesn’t come without it’s risks and dangers.
PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing is reminding pet owners of the important things to consider over the next few months to keep our beloved pets safe.
“We all love to spend time in the garden in the summer months, and it’s especially loved by our four-legged friends,” explains Nina. “But our gardens can contain hidden dangers for curious paws – some that you may not have thought about!
- Pesticides. You should avoid pesticides wherever you can – however, if they are absolutely necessary, make sure to use a pet-friendly alternative and cordon off areas that have been treated just to be sure. If slugs are being a nuisance, don’t use slug killer in any areas that pets can get to, as this is extremely dangerous and could be fatal if your pet eats it. Be careful to store it well out of reach of pets in a locked cabinet.
- Poisonous plants. There are lots of plants that are toxic to our four-legged friends, so it’s important to avoid any of these in areas your pets can access. These include; Hydrangea, lilies, foxgloves and yew. Remember to check our list of poisonous plants before planting anything new. With some poisonous plants every part of the plant including the root or bulb are toxic, so make sure that if you do keep toxic plants that your pet can not access them at all.
- Cocoa shell mulch. Cocoa shell mulch, often used in soil, is highly poisonous to pets, as it contains high levels of theobromine and caffeine – also found in chocolate. Avoid it altogether, or remember to keep pets away from areas where it’s been used!
“Days out are the perfect way to spend time with your furry best friend this summer, however there’s some things to consider before you go,” Nina adds.
- A day at the beach. The beach can be a wonderful place for dogs to exercise and have fun, but it is important for owners to know how to avoid possible seaside dangers. By keeping your dog safe from hazards such as strong tides, you can have a fun day with the whole family – including your pooch! Be sure to keep your dog on a lead if you are in protected areas for wildlife. If you come across any seals on the beach or in the water it is important to keep a safe distance and respect their environment. It is important to take care with sand ingestion too, this can happen easily if a dog is playing for long periods with a toy covered in sand and can lead to issues for your dog!
- Be water aware. Lots of dogs love swimming and it’s a great way for them to cool down in the summer heat. However, it’s important to pick the right swimming spot and know how to keep both you and your dog safe. Many dogs love the sea to play in, but seabed shelves, strong currents and rip tides are amongst the water hazards. Dogs can be taken by surprise and get in trouble quickly, so only allow them in shallow, safe stretches of the sea if you know they won’t go too far and will come to call. Be cautious of rivers with strong undercurrents and stick to areas that are known to be safe as under water plants and algae can also cause difficulties for dogs when swimming. Blue green algae is also poisonous to dogs, so be sure to steer clear of stagnant water if your dog likes swimming.
- Walks in the country. Heading out for a walk in the countryside on a long, summers day can be a great way to have fun and stay fit with your dog. However, it’s important to keep the walk dog friendly by planning your route carefully, checking the weather forecast and making sure you have everything your dog needs for the day, and following the countryside code. Always keep your dog on a lead when around livestock. If letting your dog off the lead on holiday, be sure that you are nowhere near other animals, that it’s a safe space for you to do so, with no cliffs or unstable foot paths and make sure that your dog has a strong recall. Dogs die on hot walks, so it is really important that you check the weather forecast before you go out. If it’s likely to be a hot day, change plans and instead walk your dog in the cooler parts of the day, keeping them safely at home during the hottest times.
“When it comes to heatstroke, prevention is always better than cure,” explains Nina.
1. Find the shade. If you have rabbits that live outside, it’s really important that you keep their enclosure out of direct sunlight. Wooden hutches, sheds and runs can get very hot in the sun, so remember to move them to a well-shaded area of the garden. Cats can be tempted to sunbathe, while most will move themselves as they get a bit warm; older, unwell or younger pets may not realise they’re getting too warm, so be alert and move them out of the hot sun into a shaded area or take them back inside. Dogs can enjoy a paddling pool and setting up a bed/den under the shade of a tree can be a great place for them to cool down.
2. DIY shade. If your garden doesn’t provide much shade, parasols, sun umbrellas and DIY sun shelters make the perfect shaded spots for dogs to sleep in. Remember to keep an eye on the direction of the sun, as you may need to move things around throughout the day so the shade doesn’t disappear!
3. Cold as ice. A really simple way to help keep your bunnies or Guinea pigs nice and cool, is to fill a bottle with water and freeze it overnight. Wrap it tightly in a towel or sock and place it in their home. It will give them something nice and cold to lie against when taking their summer nap.
To find out more and prepare for the summer visit the PDSA website.
PDSA is the UK’s largest vet charity providing a vital service for pets across the UK whose owners struggle to afford treatment costs for their sick and injured pets. For many vulnerable pets, PDSA is there to help when there is nowhere else for their owners to turn. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information. www.pdsa.org.uk