7 tips for keeping your dog healthy over summer

July 7, 2023

The veterinary team here at Claygate Vets regularly sees similar cases, year after year, once the summer months roll around. Our Vet Darren Partridge discusses below some of the most common conditions that can affect your pet with advice on how to avoid these and keep your pet healthy.

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1. Heatstroke

When exercising your pet, the outside temperature isn’t the only thing you should think about; your dog’s breed, coat type, anatomy, health, and activity levels should all be considered.

As a general rule of thumb, all dogs should avoid exercising during the hottest part so of the day when it’s reaches upwards of 20 degrees Celsius. However, our Vet Darren Partridge asks owners of large breeds, overweight dogs, older dogs, overly active dogs, thick coated or brachycephalic (flat faced) breeds to be aware that these dogs may suffer more and in lower temperatures too.

Heatstroke is not just limited to the summer months; however, it is much more likely to affect your pet when it’s warm.

Heatstroke occurs when your dog’s body cannot cope with the rise of their internal temperature, this in turn starts to damage their soft tissues and organs. In fatal cases, these damaged organs will fail, causing death. Be vigilant with your pet’s summer management and keep a close eye on them for the following symptoms: vomiting, panting, lethargy and your pet collapsing.

2. Dehydration

Your dog may suffer from dehydration if they do not consume enough water. Whether this is because they are overactive, they are not big drinkers, or they could be suffering from an undiagnosed, underlying health condition, if your dog becomes dehydrated, they will need veterinary attention. Treatment usually involves fluids being given intravenously to quickly replace any they have lost and a course of antibiotics, anti-pain medication and anti-sickness medication may also be prescribed.

In general, dogs should consume daily approximately 50-60ml of clean water per kilogram of their body weight. For example, a 10kg dog should be consuming 500 – 600ml of water a day.

Keeping an eye on your pet’s drinking habits in the summer is a good way to reduce the risk of dehydration. Symptoms to look out for are a dry nose, loss of appetite, dry gums, loss of skin elasticity and in more severe cases, sunken eyes and your dog may collapse.

Top tip from our team: Add some water to your dog’s meals to encourage them to take in more fluids.

3. Sunburn

Many owners who are registered with Claygate Vets always seem shocked that their dog can suffer from sunburn. The most commonly affected areas are noses, ears and other exposed areas not protected by fur.

If your dog’s ear tips are dry, cracked or misshapen, or you spot ulcers, wounds or rashes on your pet, they could be suffering from sunburn. If your dog becomes severely sunburnt, they may seem generally unwell or may have a slight fever.

We often have to treat pets for infections that have developed at the sunburn site. Head Vet Darren Partridge warns all dog owners to look out for skin blistering or/and pus oozing from the site – if this is the case, your dog will need emergency veterinary intervention to help get on top of the infection promptly.

The easiest way to avoid sunburn is to keep your pet out of the sun during the hottest part of the day and invest in a pet-safe sunscreen.

4. Summer parasites

During the warmer months, pet parasites are often more active, resulting in a higher risk of disease for your dog. The concentration of ticks usually increases due to the natural increase in dog footfall at common areas, such as the park or local woodland. These carry a number of diseases, but the most common disease affecting both dogs and humans, is Lyme Disease. Fleas also love to thrive in warm, yet damp conditions – so the warmer months when your dog is hot, and the weather is humid, is when you should be on high alert for potential flea infestations.

Keeping your dog up to date with their parasitic treatments throughout the year will help to keep them safe and reduce the need for veterinary treatment this summer. Contact us about parasite prevention.

Other seasonal parasites, such as horse flies and mosquitos are seen during the summer and autumn months and can bite both dogs and humans alike. This can sometimes cause dangerous allergic reactions which may need to be treated by a vet. Always keep an eye on your pet for any new lumps and bumps they may have and contact us if you notice anything unusual.

5. Poisonous plants

Darren Partridge warns that as beautiful as some garden plants become in the summer, many of them are toxic to dogs when ingested. For example, foxgloves and lilies contain cardiac glycoside toxins, which will interfere with the electrolyte balance in your dog’s heart muscles which can be fatal. Symptoms include, tremors, seizures, nausea, drooling, dilated pupils, and your vet will be able to detect abnormalities when listening to your pet’s heart.

Always monitor your dog whilst they are outside and contact us immediately if you suspect your dog could have ingested something poisonous.

6. Open water

If your dog loves open water, Claygate Vets understands that they will definitely want to go swimming once summer is here. However, as an owner, it is important to consider the safety of your pet before they even begin paddling. Hidden hazards underneath the water could cause your pet injury, and open water may be subject to currents and undercurrents. Blue green algae (cyanobacteria) is usually found in lakes, ponds and streams around the UK and is toxic to dogs. It’s not always visible so can be a big risk even if the water looks safe.

Ingesting either sea water or water containing cyanobacteria is a big contributor to dehydration – after ingesting the water, dogs will often experience vomiting or diarrhoea. Always ensure you have fresh drinking water to hand for your dog.

Ear infections and skin irritations from sand are also two other conditions we tend to treat in the summer. Always make sure you thoroughly hose your dog with fresh water after any type of swimming and invest in a veterinary approved ear rinse solution.

7. Barbeques and fireworks

Even with our unpredictable British weather, most people in the UK will attend a barbeque over summer. However, taking your pet could put them at risk.

As well as the risk of burning, many BBQ dishes contain sauces high in levels of salt/sugar, garlic or onion, both of which are toxic to dogs. Foods high in salt/sugar are contributors to kidney failure and salt can also cause dehydration. Furthermore, the different cooking method may upset your dog’s stomach whilst large pieces of meat could lead to obstruction or choking – both needing veterinary help.

Fireworks, festivals and other outdoor celebrations near to where you live could frighten your dog. Chat to our team here at Claygate Vets to discuss what options are available to help your pet cope with their fear of loud noises.

Book a consultation with one of our vets to discuss any of the risks listed above. If you believe your pet is suffering from one of these conditions, call Claygate Vets immediately on 01372 460107.

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