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A-Z of summertime pet tips (Part 2)

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A-Z of summertime pet tips (Part 2) 15/02/2017

Hi it’s Justine and Lexie here!

Thank you so much for tuning in to our summertime pet Q&A session on Facebook. It was so much fun! Lexie particularly enjoyed reading and helping to answer all your pet health questions.

Here is the second installment of our A-Z summertime pet tips…


Macadamia nuts are very popular during the holiday season and are commonly found in many biscuits and chocolates. Unfortunately as yummy as they are, these nuts are highly toxic for pets. Ingestion can cause symptoms such as lethargy, vomiting and tremors. Treatment for nut toxicity involves intravenous fluids and supportive care until the toxin leaves the system.


Onions, garlic, leeks, chives and shallots are a lovely flavour addition to our cooking. Although small amounts may seem harmless, these foods can cause serious medical problems for your pets (even if cooked). Gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting and diarrhea occur post ingestion, but the most serious consequence is red blood cell damage and anaemia.

Remember that onions can often be a hidden ingredient in many dinners and bbq foods, so ensure your loved one stays well away and keep all food out of easy reach.

Prescription medication

Many human medications can be severely toxic to pets. These include paracetamol, nurofen, aspirin and some anti – depressants. Ingestion of these products can lead to severe kidney and liver failure and internal bleeding.

It’s important to ensure all human medications are stored in safe spot away from prying eyes. Although it may be tempting, never administer any human medications to pets at home and always seek the advice of your veterinarian if you are worried.

Quick first aid for wounds

During the warmer months our pets are spending more time outdoors and can occasionally get up to mischief. We see many different types of wounds at the hospital including burns, open and closed wounds. Some initial first aid can really help your pet before seeking veterinary attention.

When addressing wounds remember the ‘WAC principle’.

What type of wound is it? Is it an open wound (i.e. a break in the skin), closed wound (just swelling, skin layer remains intact) or a burn?

Apply pressure – if you notice any bleeding from the wound apply pressure with a non-stick gauze pad.

Cold compress and flush – ensure you flush any burns with cool water as soon as possible to prevent further damage. Apply a cold pack wrapped in a tea towel to closed wounds or wounds with swelling.

Even though wounds may appear quite minor initially, it’s always important to get everything checked out by your veterinarian. Wounds can carry a high risk of infection and sometimes more severe tissue or internal damage is not always apparent initially.

Raisins and grapes 

Although they may seem harmless grapes, currants, sultanas and raisins are all toxic to dogs. Even ingesting small quantities of these products can lead to kidney failure. Unlike other toxicities such as chocolate, the level of toxicity is not directly proportional to the amount ingested.

Please be mindful that many puddings and cakes can contain dried fruit as well, so ensure that fruit bowl or dessert is put away after eating.


Venomous snakes are extremely common this time of year. Sadly we see many snake bite cases in our intensive care unit and snake venom can be deadly. Clinical signs of a snake bite include dilated pupils, weakness, vomiting and difficulty breathing. Please contact your veterinarian ASAP if your pet may have been bitten.

To reduce the risk of snake bites ensure:

  • You walk your pet on a leash during walks and avoid long vegetation
  • Your backyard remains tidy and remove any potential hiding spots for snakes such as firewood
  • Remove any leftover food from the backyard that could attract rodents and snakes.


I often get asked about ticks. What are they? When do we need to worry about them? Ticks are parasites that attach to a pet’s skin and feed on their blood. There are many species of ticks (including bush and brown dog ticks) but the main species to be concerned about is the paralysis tick. Paralysis ticks usually live around the coast of South Eastern Australia and are generally blue/ grey in colour.

If you are travelling along the eastern coastline of Australia (including East Gippsland, coastal NSW/Qld), your pet needs to be protected against paralysis ticks. There are many products available on the market including spot on preparations and tablets.

For dogs we recommend Bravecto, Nextguard, Frontline plus or Advantix. It’s important to read the instructions carefully on the label to ensure correct application and protection.

For cats we recommend applying Frontline spray. Never apply dog tick products to cats. Cats are extremely sensitive to many parasitic products and dog products can be fatal when applied to cats.

We also recommend performing a daily tick check of your pets. Start from the face, check the inner surface of the ear and explore the entire coat including the tail/anal region.

Symptoms of tick paralysis include vomiting, excessive salivation, labored breathing and difficulty using the back legs. Please contact your veterinarian asap if you notice any of these signs.

UV rays

Cats and dogs are highly susceptible to sunburn with UV exposure. Pets with underlying skin disease or lack of pigmentation (such as white haired cats) are at greater risk. Always apply a pet specific sunscreen on exposed areas such as the nose and ears.


Vomiting can occur for a variety of reasons. During summertime pets are more prone to developing dietary indiscretions (after getting into leftovers or bbq foods), foreign bodies, motion sickness or infections.

If it’s just a single vomiting episode, fast your pet for 12 hours then offer a bland diet of boiled chicken and rice in small frequent meals for the next couple of days before gradually returning to our normal diet. Ensure you offer small frequent amounts of water.

If your pet is young or old, vomiting continues or other signs such as inappetance, diarrhoea or lethargy are noted please contact your veterinarian.

Water safety

When spending time near the water, always remember water safety regardless of how well your pet can swim. The importance of supervision and finding safe swimming spots is vital in keeping your pet safe.

Risks such as currents/rips, low body temperature, damage on sharp rocks etc. not only apply to humans but also apply to our furry friends. Also, if you are taking your dog on boat ensure they are fitted with a life- jacket.


Xylitol is commonly used as an artificial sweetener. It is found in chewing gum, mouthwash, toothpaste, baked goods and even some peanut butters.

It can cause severe liver failure in pets even in small quantities.

Signs of toxicity include vomiting, weakness, tremors and seizures.

Because this ingredient is hidden in so many products, ensure all human items are kept out of reach from your furry friends.

Your guide to CPR

Just like human medical emergencies, knowing CPR can save your beloved companion’s life. Just remember your ABC..


  • Place your pet on their right hand side
  • Check for any debris inside the mouth and nostril region.
  • Gently pull the tongue out of the mouth to check for any potential obstructions


  • Is your pet breathing? Can you see their chest moving up and down?
  • What is the gum colour? If the gum colour is pink it indicates that oxygen is moving around the body effectively.
  • If your pet is not breathing, create a seal around your pet’s mouth using your hands. Then place your mouth over your pet’s nose and breath until you see the chest rise. Administer two breaths initially, then continue one breath every five seconds.


  • Feel for a pulse.
  • The best place to feel for a pulse is inside the hindleg where it meets the body.
  • If no pulse is present, you will need to commence cardiac compressions.
  • Place your hands on top of one another with the fingers touching and compress down over the heart.
  • The timing should be 1.5 compressions per second.


And most of all remember to have lots of fun running, exploring and spending time with your beloved companion.

Until next time!

Lots of love Justine and Lexie.

Lort Smith Contact Details