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A-Z of summertime pet tips (Part 1)

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A-Z of summertime pet tips (Part 1) 16/01/2017

Hello, it's Dr Justine and Lexie here.

We hope everyone had a lovely festive season. We are excited about sharing our 2017 adventures with you.

Lexie and I have compiled our favourite A-Z summertime pet tips. We are also hosting a live Facebook chat on Saturday 21 January at 10am to answer all of your summertime pet questions. Summertime is full of fun and exploring, but unfortunately it can pose some hidden dangers for our beloved companions. It’s really important to inform all family members and visitors about any potential risks. And remember, contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns.


Pets are at high risk of alcohol toxicity. So, don’t leave your drink or any bottles where your pet can get at them (like unattended on a bench or table).

Alcohol contains ethanol, which is dangerous and sometimes fatal if your pet ingests it. Symptoms include drowsiness, loss of balance, low blood sugar levels and collapse. 

Bee and wasp stings

With our lovely warm weather, the risk of bee and wasp stings increases. Symptoms of a bee or wasp sting include sudden onset of swelling, inflammation and pain (often around the face or paws).

If your pet gets stung, apply an ice pack to the affected area. Like people, pets can develop an allergic reaction to bee and wasp stings. If they are stung around the throat, mouth or neck it is possible that swelling could trigger breathing difficulties, so it’s important to contact your veterinarian immediately.

Chocolate and other yummy junk food

Like alcohol, chocolates and other junk food is just for you, not your pet, so keep it out of reach. Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, which pets cannot tolerate. Even in small quantities, it can lead to hyperexcitability, heart palpitations and collapse. Dark chocolate and cooking chocolate are the most toxic for pets.

Ingesting chocolate and confectionary wrappings may also result in gastrointestinal obstructions.


When travelling, please secure your pets safely in a pet carrier or specialised pet harness. Never leave dogs in the back of the ute unsecured, because they may escape and trigger a serious accident.

Avoid travelling in hot weather if you can. Always carry plenty of water and keep the air conditioning on in the car.

NEVER leave your pet in your car on hot days (even if you leave a window open or try and park in the shade), because the temperature inside a car can rise rapidly. Even a few minutes inside a hot car can cause severe heat stress and sadly death.

Ear infections 

Ear infections are common during the warmer weather. A foreign body such as a grass seed, too much wax or moisture, or underlying allergic disease can cause a sore ear. Sometimes pets can get moisture in their ears after a swim, so it’s essential you use an ear cleaner weekly if your pet likes to spend time in the water.

If you notice you pet scratching their ears or shaking their head, please consult your veterinarian.

Flea control

It’s really important to control fleas over summer. Several products are available on the market, including topical preparations and oral chewable tablets.

Discuss with your veterinarian what flea product is best for your pet, because some products can be affected by bathing, reducing their efficacy. Never use dog products on cats (even in small doses) because this can lead to serious toxicity, which may be fatal.

Lexie currently has Revolution once a month for flea control. Other products I recommend for cats include Advantage, Advocate, Activyl or Comfortis.

For dogs, I recommend Revolution, Advantage, Advocate, Nextgard, Activyl or Comfortis. All these products are available from our dispensary.

Sometimes, pets can develop allergies to flea bites causing a severe skin reaction. Occasionally, your pet may need medication to help with this, so please see your veterinarian if you notice excessive scratching, inflammation or crusts on the skin.

Grass seeds

During the summertime, grass seeds can become stuck in your pet's fur, eyes, ears or paws. This can be uncomfortable for your pet, and you might notice them chewing their paws or shaking their ears.

Often grass seeds are very painful and tricky to remove, so consult your veterinarian if you are worried.

You can minimise the effects of grass seeds by grooming your pet regularly, especially trimming the fur around their paws. If you have a long haired pet, it’s always good to check the coat for grass seeds after outdoor activity.

Never completely shave your pet in the summer due to risk of sunburn. Your pet’s fur helps them regulate their temperature and provides a natural sun defense.

Heat stress

Heat stroke can occur during exposure to humidity and high temperatures. This condition leads to multi-organ failure and is often fatal. Symptoms include excessive panting, increased salivation, vomiting, difficulty breathing and collapse.

Brachycephalic breeds such as Pugs, Cavaliers, Boxers and Persians, senior pets, pets who are overweight and pets with underlying kidney, respiratory, liver or heart disease are more susceptible.

It’s extremely important to offer your pet plenty of fresh water, keep them in cool shaded areas on warm days and avoid exercise in the warmer weather.


Did you know microchipped pets are more likely to be reunited with their owners if they go missing? Microchipping your beloved companion is vital.

If you change your address or other contact details (like your phone number), remember to notify your microchip registry. If you are unsure which pet registry you currently use, you can search your pet’s microchip number at: http://www.petaddress.com.au. This database will put you in contact with the relevant microchip registry and you can change/ update your details if necessary.

If you are unsure of your pet’s microchip number, contact your veterinarian and we can easily scan the chip and ensure it’s working correctly.

Justine's first aid

Just like for people, it’s crucial to learn pet first aid. Basic pet first aid can save your companion’s life.

I recommend downloading the First Aid For Pets app to your phone or computer. This free app contains some valuable advice about common conditions and what to do in any pet emergency.

Kitchen leftovers and barbeque food

BBQ food and dinner leftovers can seem harmless, but these types of cooked foods can cause serious medical problems for your pet. Pets have a different metabolism to people and are more sensitive to sudden changes in diet. Even a small harmless snack of sausage or cooked meat can lead to upset tummies and a severe medical condition called pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas.) Cooked bones, fruit pips, kebab sticks, plastic meat trays and corncobs can cause life-threatening obstructions as well. 

So, keep all food out of easy reach and always remove leftovers at the end of the day, to prevent any ‘midnight snacking’.


Lilies are lovely, but not for your pets. All parts of lily plants (including the leaves and pollen) are exceptionally toxic to cats, leading to severe kidney failure. In dogs, lilies may cause mild tummy upset and diarrhoea if ingested.

So, keep them out of reach.


Mushrooms seem to sprout from everywhere during summer, but certain species can be quite toxic to cats and dogs (especially wild mushrooms). It’s a good idea to keep a close eye on what your pets are sniffing at if you’re out and about.

Symptoms of mushroom toxicity include vomiting, diarrhoea, and lethargy. Sadly, it can sometimes lead to organ failure. And remember, contact your veterinarian if you are worried.

Thanks so much for reading!

Stay tuned for A-Z of summertime pet tips (Part 2).

Lots of love Justine and Lexie

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