Some thoughts on summer
I don’t think we can complain too much about the weather so far this summer. On the whole it’s been fine and dry. My only grumble is by the time the kids are asleep in bed there’s generally a slight chill in the air and its rarely warm enough to sit still outside but I’m being picky!
Summer does pose a few problems to our pets however; Grass seeds seem to cause no end of problems during the summer months. They get lodged in ears, in feet and can even be inhaled.
Grass seeds cause intense irritation and acute pain in ears but can be easily removed at the surgery, usually under light sedation. Untreated however, they can cause severe infections, chronic pain and begin to affect hearing as the small barbed seeds travel further down the ear canal, through the ear drum and into the middle ear.
They can become trapped in between toes and enter the skin causing a characteristic swelling and abscess which usually needs lancing and exploring under sedation or anaesthesia.
Possibly the most serious problem grass seeds cause is when they are inhaled and spaniels seem particularly prone to this. These tend to cause chronic coughs and the seeds can even migrate through the lungs into other parts of the body causing recurrent abscesses. They can be really frustrating cases to treat as they tend to be chronic and recurrent. I would try and avoid areas and especially fields with grass seeds but if unavoidable, at least check your dogs over and remove any found on returning home.
Throwing a stick for your dog may seem one of life’s simple pleasures, however the damage a stick can cause is potentially life threatening. They either catch on their end and stand up like a javelin causing dogs to impale themselves or can cause wounds leaving fragments of stick inside which can lead to infections. The first stick injury I saw as a new graduate (many years ago!) went in through the dogs mouth and came out of his skin above his shoulder. Only last week I examined a dog whose owner knew had injured his mouth on a stick but nothing was visible until we anaesthetised him. We then found a 2cm laceration under his tongue with a cavity that stretched beyond the length of my finger and down to his larynx! The second dog was easier to fix than the first but both made a full recovery, not all dogs are so lucky. Please don’t throw sticks as there are plenty of safe, alternative options.
Dogs are particularly susceptible to heat stroke, like children they are not good at regulating their body temperature. Do not exercise dogs in the heat of the day or leave them in warm rooms or cars unattended. Heat stroke kills dogs every year and it is avoidable. Dogs love the summer just as much as us but let’s keep them safe too.
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