Emergency Veterinarians Caution Summer Not So Fun For Pets

Ticks, snakes and the heat waves! Veterinarians are warning pet owners to watch out for hot weather perils that can be deadly to furry friends.

“Paralysis ticks, heat stress, snake bites, dog attacks and food poisoning are the most common dangers during the Summer,” says Dr Katie Hankins, emergency veterinarian at the Animal Referral Hospital in Sydney. “We currently see one to two paralysis tick cases per day.”

In fact, Dr Hankins nearly lost her four-year-old Jack Russell cross, Elfie, to two paralysis ticks! The vet returned to her Glenorie home early one morning after working a night shift at the Animal Referral Hospital Baulkham Hills clinic to find Elfie extremely unwell and vomiting.

“I thought it was a snake bite but then found two ticks – one on her shoulder and the second under her collar,” said Dr Hankins. “I was quite worried and wasn’t sure if she would survive.”

It was touch and go for Elfie over three days, on and off the ventilator at the ARH. Elfie’s sister, Blinky, did not leave her side the entire time. She sat on a table next to Elfie, licking her face now and then to let her know she was not alone.

Blinky and Elfie were dumped at the ARH at three days of age, as part of a litter of four puppies. Dr Hankins hand-reared them for six weeks and decided to keep the two girls. They have never been apart since; always been there for each other, she explained.

“Pet owners, including me, need to be more vigilant during hot weather by checking their pet for ticks every day and speaking to their vet about tick prevention products suitable for their pet,” she said.

Food poisoning, fireworks and heat stress also big trouble

Chocolate poisoning, eating fatty foods, such as ham, or consuming seasonal fruit such as mangoes (with the large pip), or bones can also be extremely dangerous, said Dr Hankins.

“Fireworks are also an issue, especially for pets that are noise-phobic and/or suffer from anxiety,” she said. “During the upcoming Australia Day celebrations, it’s best to keep your pets indoors. However, make sure your pet is microchipped and carries an identification tag on the collar, with all contact details up-to-date, just in case your dog or cat goes missing.”

Hot temperatures can also be extremely distressing for pets, especially brachycephalic dogs with a short, broad head (such as Pugs, Bulldogs and Boxers) and pets with respiratory issues who already have compromised airways.

“Don’t take your pet to the beach or exercise them on hot days. Also NEVER leave your pet in a hot car!” says Dr Hankins. “Keep your pet cool during the day with cool, fresh water access at all times, as well as shade if your pet is outdoors. If your pet shows signs of heavy panting, drooling, fatigue, wobbly legs, diarrhoea or vomiting, go to the vet immediately!”


For advice on summer care for your pet, consult your veterinarian, she adds. The ARH is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week with immediate access on premises to equipment such as ventilators, ICU oxygen tents, ECGs, x-rays, ultrasound, CT and MRI.


For more information or media interviews:

Troy James, General Manager

Animal Referral Hospital


W 02 9199 8983/ M 0410 647 974


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