Orchard Vet's Blog

Summer Hazards


At long last the summer months are upon us! Here are a few things to be mindful of to keep your pets out of trouble over the next few months. Remember, should you need veterinary care whilst we’re closed, members of our Pal for Life pet health scheme get free access to VidiVet for on-demand advice 24/7


Warm, sunny days are lovely, but too much heat can be extremely dangerous for our canine companions – especially for flat-faced breeds and overweight dogs, who find it more difficult to cool themselves down.

Veterinary practices see hundreds of cases of Heatstroke every year. Cats are much less likely to suffer from heatstroke, though flat-faced or fluffy kitties may find it more difficult to keep cool. Similarly, flat-faced, long-haired or over-weight bunnies might find it more difficult to regular their body temperature.  

Make sure your pet has access to fresh water, avoid extreme exercise and consider creating a shaded retreat. Avoid walking dogs during the hottest part of the day and contact us immediately if you spot any signs of heatstroke. Never, ever leave your dog locked in a car, and check all sheds, conservatories and greenhouses to make sure you don’t lock your cat in! 

On hot days asphalt can reach temperatures of 52C (125F). This is hot enough to severely burn dogs paws within minutes. Check the temperature of pavements before walking your dog by placing the back of your hand on the ground. If you struggle to hold it down for seven seconds then it’s too hot to walk your dog!

Click here for more heat stroke information.

Blue-Green Algae

Our pets may be tempted to take a quick swim to cool themselves off over the summer months, or may even drink from the neighbours' pond to quench their thirst. Blue-Green Algae is a dangerous bacteria that grows on stagnant water during warm weather that often can’t be seen with the naked eye. Ingesting only a couple of mouthfuls can be fatal, so if you aren’t sure that the water is safe don’t let your dog dip their paws and try to keep cats away too.

Make sure that you have fresh water available for your pets at all times during the warmer months as this could reduce the temptation for them to find their own water supply.

If you believe your pet has ingested blue-green algae call us as soon as possible.

Wasp or Bee stings

Unlike their human counterparts, cats and dogs can be curious when it comes to wasps and bees. Although wasp or bee stings are not usually fatal to our pets, they can cause serious allergic reactions. Stings can cause swellings which can be sore and painful, but in extreme cases, they can also restrict the airway and affect breathing.

Keeping your cat indoors reduces the risk but is not always possible, so just remember to check your home and outdoors for hives and nests. If you’re feeling brave, remove any bees or wasps from your home before your pet can get to them.

If you notice that your cat has swollen paws, chin or mouth contact us for advice.

Dogs will generally be more vocal if they’ve been stung and you can help to soothe the pain in any affected areas by using a cold compress which will also help to reduce any swelling. Make sure you keep an eye out for any signs of an allergic reaction which includes swelling, collapsing or difficulty with breathing and call us immediately if this occurs.

Plants and Flowers

There are a number of plants that flower in the summer months that are potentially toxic to cats and dogs. This includes lilies, poppies, clematis, peonies, foxglove, geranium, chrysanthemum, oleander and yew.

Try to avoid buying those listed above and if you’re not sure whether your plants and flowers are safe, keep a close eye on your dog in the garden and around house plants.

You should also be mindful of the fertilisers you use when tending to your garden, as cocoa mulch contains poisonous theobromine. Make sure you keep any compost bins out of reach, and use cocoa mulch sparingly, if at all.

If your pet consumes any of the plants or flowers listed above, or any fertiliser that may contain cocoa, call us right away.

Beach Hazards

We don’t want to spoil your beach day plans, but it’s important to be aware of the dangers the seaside can bring. Dogs can often accidentally ingest sand by digging or picking up sandy toys and balls. Sand can cause a blockage in the intestine, so make sure you limit games of fetch, keep your dog hydrated and rinse off any toys as best you can.

As well as sand, ingesting large amounts of salt water can cause vomiting and, in more serious cases, kidney failure, fits and even death. Limit how long you let your dog swim in the sea for and remember to keep them topped up with fresh water!

For those of you visiting the beach with your canine companions this summer, remember the sea is powerful! Riptides, undercurrents and waves can take the most confident swimmer by surprise so consider a life vest if your pup loves the water. While some dogs are great swimmers, others may not be able to swim or paddle and could easily panic and drown if they accidentally fall into water so make sure you supervise your pet at all times.