Hazards of being a hot dog

The sun is shining, the pollen is high and everyone is busy planning trips with family and canine friends. In amongst the fun and games, take the time to think about some of the hazards you need to protect your dog from this summer. Vet Laura Frost offers some timely advice

Heat stroke
Although it is obvious that a dog left is the car on a sunny day is at risk of serious overheating, not all of us will realise that walking or sunbathing in the garden in the heat of the day can also cause heat stroke. Picture a young collie running around after a ball, too excited and focused on the task at hand to realise how hot they are until they start to feel dizzy and faint, or a older doggy, basking in their favourite spot in the garden and falling asleep only to wake up quite weak and dehydrated (let’s face it, we’ve all done it ourselves). It is up to us, as the sensible human to make sure they don’t overdo such activities.

The advice I can give is to walk animals in the morning and evening when it is cooler and choose shady places such as woodland. Take water with you so you can both enjoy some refreshment. If you have any concerns that your dog is getting heat stroke the best thing to do it use cold water or wet towels to cool them down and seek medical advice. Sometimes dehydrated animals may need a drip to help them recover.

Pets can suffer from a wide variety of allergies, some of which can be seasonally and occur in the summer months. The most common manifestation is skin disease. Does your pet scratch frequently, chew its paws, have hair loss or redness to the skin? If the answer to any of these is yes, allergies are worth considering. Allergy testing can be performed for food, indoor and outdoor allergens via a simple blood test. Blood should be taken as early as possible as any treatment can effect the accuracy of the results. The blood can be stored free of charge for three months to see if the allergy test is needed if other tests or general treatment to stop the itch is not sufficient. Once allergens have been identified, we can give your pet a more comfortable life. Unfortunately allergies are managed rather than cured. Some things can be avoided such as certain meats and grains.
If your animal is allergic to mites or fleas we can advise you on the best protection. A desensitizing vaccination can be tailored to your pet’s specific allergies. This works by regularly injected a very small amount of the allergen under the skin so that the immune system remembers that it is not harmful. This reduces the reaction that it made when the allergen is met in daily life. Some allergies may only need to be managed in the summer months with short term medication.

The jungle at the end of the garden
Canine lung worm has been a topic of much media attention this summer. There is a need to educate owners about the lifecycle of this parasite and the risk factors for their pet…

Life cycle
Angiostrongylus vasorum, commonly known as lung worm has a complicated life cycle involving several different species. Foxes are the natural host of the parasite and through roaming add to its spread in the natural environment. Slugs, snails and frogs contain larvae that pose a threat, particularly to young dogs that may eat such critters. The larvae form adult worms that set up camp in the heart and lungs. As the worms lay eggs, the dog coughs these up and swallows them. These are passed out when they go to the toilet, leading to the continuation of the life cycle.

Infection can cause a chronic cough, breathing problems and in severe cases clotting problems leading to nose bleeds, excessive bleeding from minor wounds and anaemia.

Increasing exposure
Younger dogs with an inquisitive nature are higher risk as they may eat slugs on purpose. Accidental exposure can result from ingestion of small slugs while drinking out of ponds. Lung worm infection used to be isolated to certain areas of Wales, Southern England and Ireland, but recently cases have been seen in other areas. Scientists are unsure why this spread has occurred, but may be partially due to increased movement of animals and foxes or climatic changes. If your dog eats slugs or snails please have a word with your vet about preventative measures.

Laura Frost MRCVS MA VetMB is a vet at local veterinary practice Pengelly and Mizen

Pengelly and Mizen Veterinary
Surgeons 89-93 Park Road,
Peterborough PE1 2TR
T: 01733 554953
Emergencies only: 01733 896000

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