Pet answers: feels like summer

Don’t settle for pet theories, get pet answers! Veterinary surgeon Holly Norman answers your animal health questions

I have a nine month old Boxer puppy and she was stung by a bee in the garden. When I took her to my vet, she said that she had hives. I didn’t realise dogs could get this!
Ouch! Poor puppy! Dogs and cats can have allergic reactions just like people, especially if they encounter a bee or a wasp. Unfortunately puppies and kittens often think that these insects are good fun to try and catch and don’t realise their mistake until afterwards. Hives, or urticaria, usually appears as lots of flat ‘bumps’ on your pet’s skin and can be very itchy. I’d always advise taking your pet to the vet if you see these symptoms or suspect that they have been stung.

The vet will often give an anti-inflammatory injection to stop the allergic reaction and may dispense some anti-histamines as well. Rarely, pets can go into anaphylactic shock after a severe allergic reaction (just like people)and so it’s important to watch for any further swelling around the face or neck that may cause problems breathing. This is an emergency situation and I’d recommend contacting your vet immediately. Hopefully, your puppy has learnt her lesson about playing with bees!

I’ve heard that rabbits can get ‘flystrike’ during the summer but I wasn’t sure what the best way to prevent this is, or how to treat it?
Flystrike is a nasty condition that can affect all animals although I most commonly see it in bunnies. During the warm summer months, flies are attracted to any areas on the body that may be dirty or smelly and lay their eggs. These quickly hatch into maggots which then burrow under the skin and into the flesh. It can be very painful and quickly lead to large wounds which can then become infected. Rabbits are most susceptible to this condition because they usually spend the majority of time in their hutch. This means they are in the same area as their toileting and can get faeces or urine stuck to their fur. This will often attract the flies. Bunnies that are overweight or older will often struggle to groom themselves efficiently and this will mean that they can get dirty around their bottom, also attracting flies. There are lots of ways to prevent this happening.

Firstly, ensure that the hutch is cleaned out daily during the summer months and check your bunny’s fur is clean and dry, especially around the bottom and tail. If your bunny struggles to groom him or herself, then a daily brush or bath can also help. Next, there is a product that can be applied to your bunny’s fur to repel the flies and stop them from wanting to land. It can be purchased at your veterinary practice and we often ask our veterinary nurses to apply it for you so you can be sure that your pet is fully protected. If you see any signs of flystrike such as wounds or maggots on your bunny, this is an emergency and you’ll need to get your pet to the vets as soon as possible. Rabbits can quickly go into shock if not treated promptly.

I’m considering taking on a rescue cat but he only has three legs due to a previous accident. I’m worried about letting him outside and how he’ll cope.
Great news! The charities are often full to bursting with cats at this time of year and it’s fantastic to hear you are thinking about taking on a rescue. And I have further good news! I regularly meet cats and dogs that only have three legs, whether this is due to a problem at birth or an accident. They all cope exceptionally well and often you would have to do a double take to realise that they are missing a leg. They are able to run and play as normal and get around as fast as a pet with four legs. The one caveat I would make is that it’s important to keep your pet at a healthy weight so as not to put excessive strain on the remaining legs but otherwise I would say go for it!

Do you have a pet or animal health question? Send it to us at: . Holly will endeavour to answer all questions, whether published or not!

Dr Holly Norman BSc (Hons) BVetMed MRCVS veterinary surgeon and Joint Venture Partner at: Peterborough Vets4Pets 231-233 St Paul’s Road Peterborough PE1 3RL Tel: 01733 890777 & Bretton Vets4Pets Inside Pets at Home Unit 2 The Bretton Centre Peterborough PE3 8DN Tel: 01733 261094   

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