The hot weather has arrived early across much of the nation, with staff at the Murdoch Pet Emergency
Centre (MPEC) anticipating a busy period ahead.
MPEC Veterinary Supervisor Dr Jill Griffiths said that heat stroke, snakebites and sunburn are all too common at this time of year – and can prove deadly for pets.
Fortunately, all of these conditions are preventable. Here are Dr Griffiths’ top tips for keeping your pet safe and healthy this summer.
Heat stroke (hyperthermia)
Staff at the Murdoch Pet Emergency Centre have already seen hyperthermia cases, with one dog unfortunately found dead after being left in a car last weekend.
“Heat stroke can occur very quickly. On a 30°C day, the temperature inside a car can rise to 70°C within 15 minutes – and that’s with the windows rolled down slightly,” Dr Griffiths said.
“Even mild heat stroke is an emergency. Drive to your vet immediately with the air conditioning on full or the windows completely down.”
While most Australians are aware of the risks of prolonged sun exposure, Dr Griffiths said many pet owners don’t realise that animals can suffer sunburn too. Like humans, this can lead to deadly skin cancers.
“It’s important that owners provide shade and apply sunscreen every day to the pink skinned parts of their animals,” she said.
“Dogs love lying on their backs in the sun, so don’t forget to apply sunscreen to their bellies too.”
Dr Griffiths said zinc cream works well, though there are animal-specific sunscreens available.
Snakes are more active in the warmer weather, increasing the risk of an encounter with one of our poisonous native species.
If you suspect your pet has been bitten by a snake, Dr Griffiths said it’s vital to get to the vet immediately.
“The first sign of a snakebite is often collapse and vomiting. Sometimes, a pet may seem to improve after 30 minutes or so before deteriorating again,” she said.
“If the animal has received a fatal dose of venom, the only way to save their lives is by treating them with antivenom.”
With early treatment, Dr Griffiths said pets have a very good chance of making a complete recovery.
The Murdoch Pet Emergency Centre is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. MPEC’s emergency telephone number is 1300 652 494.