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Summer Dangers and your Dog

Updated: Nov 3, 2023



Summer Hazards


When I think about Summer, I think about the Queensland heat, the hot sticky days and my personal love of the air conditioner! and I bet my dog feels exactly the same way! The thing is though, we cannot spend the entire summer in side; we have to get out and live, and most of all have fun.


As a Silky Terrier, Izzy loves to dig and explore; lie in the morning sun and check out anything that wriggles along; in the Summer, even these activities can place her at risk of illness or injury. I don’t want to be anxious about Izzy’s safety, that wouldn’t be good, however, like with anything, if we are aware of the potential risks, we can reduce exposure or be prepared to respond to a crisis!


This article will not go deep in to each hazard, more rather it will touch on them and recommend how to reduce any risk your dog is, or could potentially be, exposed to.


Hazards

It is important to note, that the following dangers may also impact your own health and wellbeing if the danger is still present. First, assess the danger, before removing or responding to your dog.


Remember that, if your dog is injured, you may be faced with aggression and be exposed to a potential bite injury; however, do not muzzle a dog who has an injury to the face; is vomiting; or has breathing difficulties.


Bites & Stings

Oh joy, only today I saw a warning notice on the side of the road asking residents to report sightings of fire ants. This ant is aggressive and the last thing we want is for fire ant nests to be disturbed in our own backyards. These ants are known as our most dangerous ant. Bites produce intense pain and itching. A single sting can produce symptoms of anaphylaxis in just a few minutes; of which can be life-threatening to those allergic to the venom.


Please stay clear. If injury occurs, wash bite area/s with soap and water. Place wrapped ice pack on wound and seek Veterinary help.


Report sightings of fire ants immediately to Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) on 13 25 23 or to your relevant State Government department.


The next ant on our most dangerous list is the yellow crazy ant. This ant doesn’t bite, oh no, it sprays formic acid! This acid may burn or irritate skin and eyes of animals and people. If sprayed with the acid, wash the area thoroughly, if in the eyes flush with saline and seek medical / veterinary care. Stop your dog from licking the burn if at all possible.


Please stay clear. If injury occurs, wash sprayed formic acid area/s with cool, clean water. Seek Veterinary help.


Other ants which you may see around your home or in your community are:

  • green head ants

  • meat ants

  • sugar ants and

  • funnel ants


BBQ

Barbies are an Australian pass time; and Summer is a high time for family get togethers; playing in the backyard having a barbie, what could be better? The thing about the barbeque is, in order to cook, you use flames, and flames generate heat, some of course can be electric or heat rocks or gas, either way the grill top or plate becomes very hot, ranging between 120C° to 260°C and for dogs it spells disaster!


If you are not watching, your dog may reach up, place paws onto the plate or tongue for that matter to reach the food and receive severe burns; even the hot food can burn the dog’s mouth and tongue. Your dog may endure intensive pain, expose themselves to infection, expensive treatment with long term recuperation and potential permanent disability.


If your dog is burnt, run water over the injured area for 10-15 minutes to stop the burning process; apply burn sheet if you have one in your first aid kit; cover the dog with the emergency blanket; and get them to the Vet.


The Backyard Barbie is a no-go area for dogs.


Cane Toads

I do not like Cane Toads and every summer I see Cane Toads everywhere, and that is not surprising given the number of tadpoles a female can produce! The toxin that a Cane Toad excretes is vile and it is dangerous to dogs and humans. Dog’s love playing with them, rolling them around in their mouth and even biting down on them, because it’s fun! what our dog’s don’t realise, is that the toxin is BAD for them; their mouth becomes coated in the toxin and it is quite thick and very pink. If ingested, dogs can become seriously ill; if this happens, you must first administer first aid and then get to the Vet.


Generally speaking, though if you act quickly enough and before the dog begins eating any part of the Toad, get a cloth and running water and first wipe out the toxin from the tongue and gums, rinsing the cloth at each wipe. Grab the hose or a jug and run the water from one side of the mouth to the other, just make sure you run the water out of the mouth and not down the throat; continue this process until the mouth is clear and clean of all toxin. Monitor your dog in one room and if you notice any changes in your dog, health or behaviour, get them to the Vet.


At night when the Toads are out and about put your dog on a leash for their toileting or stay by ready to stop your dog from playing with them.


Drowning

Who does not love to take their dog to the beach or play in the swimming pool in Summer; letting; them run and jump and play with their friends in the water? So, if it is so common in Australia why would drowning be an issue? All dog’s can swim, can’t they? No, not all dogs can swim, for example a golden retriever is usually a good swimmer but a bulldog has trouble staying afloat. Dogs with big long legs with webbed feet are better than dogs with small legs, like a dachshund, despite having webbed feet and so on. My Silky is very wary of going into ‘deep’ water; she likes to keep her feet on solid ground.


Consider this also; if a dog has been unable to get out of a dam or pool and they eventually lose the strength to keep kicking, they may well drown. A dog who falls into the pool and sustains an injury may well drown and then what if they are in a fast-moving current during a flood, they could hit or be hit by debris and lose consciousness.


When a dog swallows too much water from any of the above examples they may drown even after they are removed from the water; this is called submersion syndrome.


If in doubt get your dog a quality life vest and if you want to ensure they can exit the water attach a rope so you can pull them back in.


If your dog drowns and there is no response commence CPR and do not stop until you reach the Vet or the dog starts breathing again. It is imperative that you get to the Vet urgently.


Always make sure you supervise your dog whenever they are near water.


Check out the Fursafe Emergency Dog First Aid Guide eBook for instructions on administering first aid for submersion syndrome.


Fall from Heights

A fall for a dog could be many things; falling off the lounge awkwardly; out of a home window; off a ledge and so forth, however in Summer the most common fall from height is when a dog falls out the window of a moving vehicle or even a stationary one. If your dog is allowed to move around the vehicle and the window is open enough to fit through then you can see that the likelihood of your dog falling from height is very high. You may have your dog anchored off and yet the strap is too long or like Izzy she sits in a booster seat so she can look out the windscreen and passenger window and when she first used the booster the belt/strap was too long and she fell out of the seat with the passenger door open! (We were parked up). Thank goodness she wears a harness otherwise she may have been strangled!!


Make sure you tie off your dog to an anchor point. Use a travel harness and not a collar to tie in. make sure the strap is long enough for the dog to sit and lie down but not long enough that they can lean out the window.


If your dog does fall from heights, they could experience multiple traumas; spinal injury, brain injury, broken bones or death; or if they fall and run loose on the road then they may be run over, be thrown a long distance and experience multiple traumas.


If your dog is injured administer emergency dog first aid and get to the Vet the moment your dog is stabilised.


Fire Works / Thunder Storms

Most people love going to the fireworks at New Years Eve, Australia Day and any other day of celebration but dogs in general hate them! The sound of fireworks causes a lot of dogs to experience severe anxiety; this anxiety can cause a dog to run around frantically, they may run into furniture, into windows or out onto the road.


Consider purchasing a Thunder Shirt® for them to give them the feeling of security; consider doing things with them or treating them during the noise. Talk to your Vet if the anxiety is severe and see if they can suggest alternative ways to calm your pup.


Think about staying home with your dogs during fireworks; if you have to go out, leave them with someone or get someone in to look after them.


Heat Stress


Heat Stress is a life-threatening condition and must be avoided at all costs.


Hot weather, especially humid environments can be devastating for dogs if not managed. Heat stress can be brought on by many environmental or biological conditions such as; leaving your dog in a hot car; dog left outside without shade or water; excessive exercise/activity on hot days; walking on hot roads; inside rooms without cooling systems; and lack of acclimatisation to hot environments.


Along with the above examples heat stress can be exacerbated by: obesity; larger breeds greater than 15kg body weight, e.g. Labradors, Retrievers, Bull dogs; Poor physical fitness; exaggerated physical features; Brachycephalic breeds (flat faced), Bull dogs, Pugs; short limbs; excessive skin wrinkling.


Medical conditions which can increase the risk of heat stress: respiratory; general illness; seizures; dehydration; and Puppies / Elderly Dogs.


Priority for all dog owners is to be aware of what causes heat illness’ and take all the necessary precautions to reduce its effects as soon as possible, to ensure your dog’s condition does not progress into life-threatening heat stroke.


Prevention is paramount, however if your dog shows the signs of heat stress begin the cooling process immediately. The Fursafe Emergency Dog Heat Relief Kit has been designed to assist in reducing or stabilizing your dog’s increased temperature. Once stabilised get to the Vet.



Roads and footpaths

Ever walked on the road or footpath without your thongs on in Summer? Notice how it is near impossible; it is so hot that you last 1 second and then you run to the grass!! You actually would be left with serious blisters on the soles of your feet if you didn’t make a dash off it. Well, it’s the same for your dogs. Dog’s paws are not made of rubber or leather for that matter; they don’t wear thongs or joggers or sandals as a rule; (well, unless you have a tendency to put shoes on your dogs) and if you have them walking on the road or footpaths during the summer months you are putting their little feet at risk of serious pain, 3rd degree burns and serious infection.


Do not allow your dog to walk across the road, on gravel or on a footpath without first testing the temperature of the surface. If you place the back of your hand on the ground or better still put your bare foot/feet on it and see if it is safe for your dog to walk on.

If you have a small dog; carry them across the road. And yes, consider a set of shoes if walking on the road or footpath is your only option to get from A to B.


If you do go walking in summer, walk early morning or in the evening.


If your dog’s paws are burnt; flush with water for 15 minutes or saline, administer burn first aid to reduce pain protect against infection then transport your pet to the Vet asap!


Snakes

Snakes are out and about during the summer months and this means, you should be vigilant, to make sure they are not sunning themselves where your dog loves to play!

South East Queensland has some seriously venomous snakes; they are, Eastern Brown, Red Bellied Black, Coastal Taipan and the common Death Adder and not only do they give a nasty and painful bite, they can be life threatening.

Dogs are known for disturbing peacefully sleeping snakes; if a dog is bitten by one of the above snakes, then their only hope is to receive antivenom from the Vet.


Although the above four snakes are highly venomous, consider all snakes as potentially venomous unless you have a reliable identification.


Keep your dog’s away from snakes!


Sun

Did you know that dogs can actually get sunburnt? Well, YES they can, and it can be nasty!

Your dog may exhibit blisters; cracked crusty nose; dry and cracked ear tips; and sore red tummy which can be sensitive to touch and then there are skin cancers. What you will notice from this description is that this is what happens when people are sunburnt.


We are taught to use sunscreen, wear a hat and a lot of us wear a rashie to protect us from the harsh UV rays; this is exactly what you ought to do for your dog. Just make sure that the sunscreen is specifically for dogs with a minimum of SPF 30+. You can get it from all pet shop outlets.


If your dog does end up with sunburn, flush with water and speak to your Vet to ensure you manage the burn appropriately for your dog.


Surf/Ocean

There is little better than taking the dog to the beach; sea water is great for the skin and the coat, love, love, love it. Dogs have fun darting around on the sand, running into the water and playing with the other dogs!


An obvious hazard are the waves; if your dog is dunked by a wave, they may swallow a lot of sea water which is very bad in itself, sand bank gives way; they trip in a hole in the sand and then there are hazards which are not so obvious; hidden fishing hooks; stings from bluebottles; jelly fish and stone fish; all which are very painful, injuries which can lead to an increased risk of bacterial infection.


If your dog is injured administer emergency dog first aid to stabilise the injury/injuries and seek veterinary care as soon as possible.


Ticks

Paralysis tick season generally runs from Spring until late Autumn, however, in Queensland our warm temperatures and humidity can mean that tick season is pretty much all year round; we must never be complacent when it comes to implementing paralysis tick safety measures.


If possible, avoid potential tick areas / habitats such as bushlands, long grass when walking your dog; do tick checks everyday if you cannot avoid tick habitats; apply and maintain tick prevention control products as prescribed; and be aware of the signs and symptoms of tick paralysis disease and act immediately.


When looking for ticks on your dog, start at the nose and work your way to the tail; if you need to see inside the ears, nose, mouth or in between toes or thick fur use a penlight torch. If you find a tick, remove it and then continue looking. If your dog is showing signs of illness, take them to the Vet as soon as possible for treatment.


Conclusion

There are certainly a lot of hazards in Summer and I am sure there are many more than in this article. What is important is that you are aware of them and do what you can to reduce the risk of injury or illness.


As pet owners it is our responsibility to not just do everything to keep our dogs safe but to respond to injuries with urgency; in life threatening injuries you must stabilise your dog’s wound / condition before transporting to Vet to give your dog a greater chance of survival.



Reference

Fursafe® Emergency Dog First Aid Guide


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