Summer is full of both excitement and dangers for our pets. Here is the Animal Friends guide to some of the dangers to look out this summer to ensure your pet stays safe.
Our data has revealed that grass seeds embedded in dogs’ flesh is the most common seasonal illness for UK pets. We analysed our most recent data and revealed that during 2017 the average cost of having such foreign bodies removed from dog’s paws, skins and noses was £392.56. Foxtail grass seeds are a risk to dogs as they can easily become embedded in the fur or the flesh of animals with longer coats. We can also reveal that the most common places for grass seeds to embed was in the dogs’ paws and ears.
Our advice to keep your pet safe is:
When walking your dog, try to avoid long grass and choose a route with grass that’s been cut.
Trimming excessive hair around your pet’s ears, paws and armpits is extremely beneficial when it comes to preventing grass seeds from taking a hold on your dog’s fur. However, it’s essential to not cut the end off of any grass seeds in the process, as this can make them very difficult to remove.
Hotspots (also known as summer sores or moist dermatitis) seem to appear from nowhere on your pet’s skin and can cause a lot of discomfort for your dog who are more prone to developing them. They can have a variety of causes (for eg. ticks) but the most common one is bacteria. If you see them on your dog (they commonly look quite raw and weeping) please seek the advice of a vet. They usually respond well to a course of antibiotics. For some reason cats don’t seem to suffer from them as much.
In 2017 Animal Friends customers spent £358.83 for each claim for hotspot treatment If a dog gets several outbreaks, it can be an expensive business for the owner if their pet is not covered by pet insurance.
Summer means increased walking outdoors for many people but with that comes the risk of ticks attaching themselves to your dog’s skin. Ticks are not simply annoyances that attach to your dog and cause him to itch and be uncomfortable. They can also carry some very nasty diseases that may have long-term effects on your dog’s health. Ticks may come to an owner’s attention from causing itchiness on the dog’s skin or becoming so bloated after feeding that they become visible to owners on the dog’s skin. The average cost for a tick infection in 2017 was £391.96.
Diseases they can carry include tick paralysis, Lyme disease and encephalitis (which cost owners an average of £3734.18 to treat in 2017) which is a very large cost for owners to bear. Tick infections can also cause gastrointestinal problems and anaemia. Babesiosis is another disease recently seen in the UK. This is carried and passed on through ticks and is believed to have come into the UK on an animal using the ‘pet passports’ scheme. Pet owners have been warned against the additional danger of this disease as British vets aren’t experienced in treating it and it can only be cured through a blood transfusion.
Guard against ticks
To make sure your pet is tick free, conduct a thorough body check of your dog. While these ticks are visible to the naked eye, they like living in dark, hidden areas of the animal, such as ears, groin and between the toes.
Signs that your dog is suffering with ticks include excessive scratching or licking in one particular area.
Pet owners must be careful when removing ticks, and we suggest the safest way to do this would be to use tweezers to grip the visible part of the tick and pull it straight out of the animal’s skin. Do not twist the tick, burn the tick or apply anything else to the skin as this could cause further damage to your pet.
With the risk of so many tick-borne diseases, you may find it wise to place the removed tick into a dated ziplock bag in the freezer. This way, if your pet shows any signs of illness, you can give the tick to the vet and they will be able to analyse it
We know that the average dog walker is already well aware that ticks and other parasites can spread infections like Lyme’s disease, but Babesiosis is an especially aggressive and dangerous illness.
Melanomas (skin cancers)
Many owners assume that fur protects their pets from skin complications, including cancers (melanoma) however this is not always the case especially for animals with lighter fur and exposed skin. It is increasingly important for owners to know and recognise the dangers of excessive sun exposure on their pets as Animal Friends data shows a massive 35.7% increase in reported claims for melanoma in cats, dogs and horses in the UK since 2015.
How do I protect my pet against developing melanomas?
There are a few factors that determine whether your pet will need extra protection from the sun.
- Light coloured fur
- Short or fine fur
- Exposed skin (such as on the belly or around the muzzle)
If your pet has dark, thick fur, they will be much more protected. However, you should still pay close attention to how much time they are exposed to the sun each day.
Top tips for keeping your animals safe in the hot sun
- Limit the amount of time pets spend in the sun, especially during the peak of the day.
- Use special pet sun cream on light or thin fur, the nose, ears or other exposed patches.
- Give them plenty of cool, clean water, refreshed regularly.
- Clip long-haired pets to prevent them from overheating.
- Never leave animals locked in cars, even for a few minutes.
- Avoid walking dogs between 8am and 5pm on hot summer days to avoid the main heat of the day.
- Consult a vet immediately if you notice ulcers, sores or sudden discolouration on your pet’s skin.
Don’t forget also that in times of unusual and excessive heat (as we are experiencing now) the soft pads of dogs’ paws can burn on concrete. In 2017 the average cost for treatment for dog burns was £617.77.
Prevent such injuries from happening to your dog by taking preventative measures such as:
- Walk your dog when it’s cool
- Walk them on grass if you happen to be out when it’s very hot
- Moisturise their paws
- Check and clean your dog’s paws regularly
Pets can develop pollen allergies. In dogs, it manifests generally in itchy skin and painful ears, often chewing their feet until; they are red and raw. Cats with allergies to inhaled pollens are more likely to present with coughing due to feline asthma, an allergic airway disease. This can be very distressing to owners and the cats involved, but veterinary treatment can generally relieve the symptoms effectively. Some cats learn to tolerate inhalers just like their owners
According to Animal Friends data (2015-2107) the top three dog breeds to present with hayfever symptoms were:
- Staffordshire Bull Terriers,
- English Bulldogs
- Labrador/Golden Retrievers.
For cats, the common moggie most often presents with allergic symptoms.
According to Animal Friends’ data, the average claim for a dog with this condition comes to £233.74 whereas for cats it comes to £169.68. Allergic disease is a lifelong condition and can be managed but not cured and will reoccur on a regular basis.
How can I help my pet who suffers from hayfever?
Unfortunately there is no cure for hayfever but there are some things you can do to make life easier for pets who suffer.
- Visit your vet to ensure that your pet has the correct diagnosis and treatment
- Give your dog a bath in cool water
- Do not keep flowers and plants in the house,
- Keep your pet out of the way when you cut the lawn
- Clip your dog’s coat if he has long hair
- Restrict your pet’s time outdoors when pollen counts are high
- Run the air conditioner overnight to filter pollen out of your home environment
- Wash your pet’s bedding weekly with hot water and make sure you dry them completely
We recommend that you invest in pet insurance to ensure you are protected against any unexpectedly expensive medical procedures this summer!