Summer is a great time to get outside and enjoy the warm weather with our pets, but we want to do it as safely as possible. Here are seven important tips from your veterinary team at Old Towne Animal Hospital to help keep the summer fun for you and your pets.
- Watch Out for Water Hazards
Found in standing water such as lakes, ponds, pools and fountains, blue-green algae can pose a life-threatening hazard to dogs and cats in warm weather.
Blue-green algae may not be obvious, but can look like a slimy film, “pond scum,” or green paint spilled on the surface of the water. It can also appear bluish, brown, or even red.
Any contact with blue-green algae can cause signs of toxicity including:
- Excessive salivation
- Trouble breathing
- Liver failure
Blue-green algae toxicity can be fatal. Always carry fresh water for your pet so they won’t be tempted to drink from lakes and streams.
If your pet is exposed to blue-green algae, rinse them off with fresh water right away. If you suspect your pet has licked or ingested any algae, call our hospital immediately!
And be aware: even fresh water poses a hazard. Drinking or accidentally ingesting too much of any water quickly, such as when repeatedly jumping into lakes after a toy, can throw off a pet’s electrolyte balance and be fatal (a condition called water intoxication).
Call us if your pet has consumed a large amount of water in a short amount of time or is showing signs of water intoxication.
- Be Aware of Toxic Plants
Certain plants pose a risk to pets. While some may only cause gastrointestinal (GI) issues, others can be life-threatening. Plants to keep your pet away from include:
- Aloe vera
- Tomato (the plants and green tomatoes)
- Onions, garlic, and chives
- Potato (both the leaves and raw potatoes)
- Sago palm
For more information on toxic plants, please give us a call or consult these sites:
Pet Poison Helpline: Top 10 Plants Poisonous to Pets
- Keep Your Pet Away from Other Toxins
Several kinds of poisons can spell trouble for pets if they get into them:
- Fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Symptom severity increases if large amounts or consumed or they contain other toxins like iron.
- Mulchcan cause a blockage inside a pet’s GI system. Cocoa bean mulch can cause vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors and worse as the product contains theobromine and caffeine (the same chemicals that cause chocolate toxicity).
- Bait, even in small amounts, can cause tremors, seizures, cardiovascular and respiratory problems, and other serious signs. Depending on the kind of bait, ingestion may be fatal.
- Even products that are less toxic to pets can cause serious symptoms if a pet consumes a lot at one time. Close and properly dispose of used containers.
If you have a free-roaming cat, consider using pet-safe alternatives where possible, such as removing weeds by hand rather than using herbicides.
Call us right away if you think your pet has consumed something toxic. During off-hours, you can call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 or Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 (a fee may be charged).
- Keep an Eye Out for Foxtails
Foxtails or grass seeds of certain grass species have sharp, fishhook-like barbs that can attach to and puncture a pet’s skin. They can enter a pet’s body in a range of ways: through the skin, ear canal, corner of the eye, sinuses, mouth, vulva, or penis. They can also be inhaled and migrate through the body, potentially causing infection in the chest, abdomen, skin, and occasionally the brain.
Diagnosis of foxtail exposure can be challenging because foxtail seeds can enter the body in many ways and cause a range of symptom, like head shaking, gagging, sneezing, persistent limping, small oozing sores (draining tracts), increased breathing, lethargy, and fever. Treatment is difficult as the seed(s) need(s) to be located and removed. Best prevention is to check your pet after any outdoor activity and remove all plant debris from your pet’s fur, including from between the toes. Contact us if you’re concerned about foxtail exposure, as we see many affected pets.
- Watch Your Pet at Picnics
Attending a cookout or picnic with your four-legged friend can be fun, but it can quickly become an emergency if your pet consumes any dangerous food like corn cobs, avocado pits, whole stone fruits (i.e., peaches, cherries), watermelon (rinds and seeds), meat with bones, food on skewers, onions, grapes, or raisins. Keep your pet away from the food, especially if you know he or she tends to eat food off the ground or sneak treats from tables.
- Beat the Heat
On days that are hot and sunny, sidewalks and pavement can burn your pet’s paw pads. If you can’t leave your hand or foot on a surface for 5 to 10 seconds, then your pet’s paws can’t take the heat either. Consider pet booties if you’re going to be some place where you won’t be able to stay on the grass or in the shade or better yet, leave your pet at home.
And remember, never leave your pet in a parked car, even if you only plan to be gone a few minutes. Temperatures inside cars can increase by 20°F in 10 minutes and 30°F in 20 minutes, quickly leading to heatstroke. Heatstroke, or elevated core body temperature, can be deadly in pets, especially if not treated quickly.
- Protect Your Pet Against Parasites
Heartworms, ticks, and fleas are all known threats in Fair Oaks and throughout California. Make sure your pet is protected! Call us today to refill your pet’s parasite preventives.
If you have questions about keeping your pet safe this summer, give us a call!