With the change in season comes a few new safety topics for pet owners to be aware of. In this article we will be covering four Spring and Summer related health topics;
– Grass Seeds
– Heat Stress
– Snake Safety
– Paralysis Ticks
Unfortunately with the beautiful spring weather and rapid growth of vegetation comes grass seeds. These seeds have a sharp tip and barbed end, allowing them to puncture skin easily and even migrate through the body. At Vets at Amaroo we often see patients who have these little suckers in their paws, ears, eyes, nostrils and even genitals, ouch!
The best way to avoid grass seeds is to avoid long grass, keep grass on your own property mowed and don’t allow your pet to run through long grass on walks. If your pet has long fur, trimming their fur (especially their paws) can also dramatically reduce their chances of ending up with grass seeds.
For more information and a list of symptoms to keep an eye out for, see: Grass Seeds Information.
Heat Stress is extremely dangerous for our pets, in severe cases it can cause irreversible damage to internal organs and can even be fatal. Unlike us, our pets unable to sweat and are not able to cool themselves as effectively. As pets rely on panting as their primary way of eliminating excess body heat, brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds are much more at risk due to their inability to breath and pant as efficiently. Pets who are overweight, have heart disease, are very young or very old are also at increased risk.
Ensuring your pet ALWAYS has access to water, shade and a well ventilated area is the number one way to prevent heat stress. Exercising your pet at cooler times in the day and not allowing them to over exert themselves is also extremely important.
For more tips and tricks see: Preventing Heatstroke.
As snakes hibernate during the colder months the vast majority of snake bites take place in Spring and Summer. Snakes are commonly found in areas with long grass, rocks and other hiding holes, often near a fresh water source such as a creek or dam.
It is important to remember that most snakes will try to avoid you and your pets. However, whilst we humans may simply walk away from a snake, our pet’s are inquisitive, armed with natural hunting instincts and when given the chance, will harass snakes often resulting in snake bites.
The best ways to prevent snake bites are:
- Avoid areas with grass any longer than ankle height
- Always keep your dog on lead when walking, do not let your dog investigate off path/in long grass
- Keep your backyard tidy, mowed and remove any rubbish that would make a nice hiding spot for a snake
- Consider building a cat enclosure for cats that like to venture outdoors
Symptoms to look out for:
- Sudden weakness
- Collapse (can seem to ‘recover’ shortly after)
- Twitching of the muscles
- Dilated pupils non-responsive to light
- Blood in urine
What to do if you think your pet may have been bitten by a snake:
If you suspect your pet has been bitten by a snake you should keep them as quiet/still as possible whilst seeking immediate veterinary attention. Snake bite envenomation is life-threatening, the sooner your pet is treated the better their chances of survival.
Unless you are certain the snake is dead do not put yourself at risk trying to identify it. Never attempt to catch or harm a snake.
Additional information on prevention and treatment of snake bites can be found, here.
Although they are small, paralysis ticks are not to be underestimated. These critters are capable of killing an unprotected pet within 3-4 days of attaching.
Prevention is far safer (and kinder to your wallet) than treatment, and is now available in lots of convenient options such as flavoured chews and long lasting topical treatments. Whilst protection should certainly be considered Australia wide in the warmer months, it is absolutely imperative that all pets are protected before travelling to the coast or to Sydney.
It’s also worth noting, not all ticks are dangerous. Bush ticks are occasionally seen locally but do not cause illness. If you find a tick on your pet, bring it with you to the vet to be identiﬁed.
Early signs to look out for include:
- Tiredness or weakness
- Staggering or wobbly legs
- Breathing diﬃculty, coughing or noisy breathing, changes to the sound of their bark/meow
- In later stages. collapse and paralysis
Most pets who are treated quickly for tick paralysis will survive, so please do not delay treatment.