Watch Out! There are Ticks About and Other Dangers to Dogs

The days are getting longer and the weather is hopefully improving, which means only one thing. Summer is round the corner! There’s no better time of year to get outdoors, exploring with your dog. However, there are a few hazards to look out for on your walks. Today I thought I’d talk you through some of the dangers to dogs at this time of year, as well as steps you can take to prevent coming to harm!

 

There’s plenty of wildlife that can harm both you and your dog when you’re out walking together. Keep your eyes peeled when exploring to avoid coming into contact with these pesky flora and fauna!

 

DOGSLOSURE: I am not a vet or medical professional. This post is designed to inform you of potential hazards you may encounter outdoors. If you, or your dogs come to harm while out walking, please seek medical assistance immediately.

 

Ticks

Ticks are small insects that are common in woodland, grassland and heaths across the UK. You’re more likely to come into contact with ticks in areas that are frequented by livestock, deer or other wildlife. They drop onto your dog’s coat as they pass and will bite and feed off your dog’s blood. They can transmit disease when they bite, so it’s important to remove them as soon as possible.

 

Ticks are easy to spot on your dog; they feel like a small bump or raisin against their skin. They commonly attach themselves to your dog’s head, neck, ears and legs. During the summer, I take a tick remover with me wherever I go. They help you safely remove the tick, without squeezing it or leaving the head behind. When removing a tick, you have to remove it completely to reduce the risk of infection.

 

 

 

Adders

Adders are the only venomous snakes native to the UK, living in sand dunes, moorland and the edges of woodlands. They’re around 60cm long, with a dark zigzag pattern along their back. They’re most active in the afternoon, between April and July each year. Like most snakes, they only tend to bite in self-defence. However if your dog accidentally disturbs or steps on one, they can unintentionally get in harm’s way.

 

Dogs are commonly bitten on their face or legs, causing the affected area to swell around the puncture wound of the bite. If you suspect an adder has bitten your dog, seek veterinary attention immediately. Carry your dog, rather than let them walk, to reduce venom travelling around their body. You’ll also want to keep your dog as still and calm as possible.

 

 

 

Bees, Wasps and Nettles

A bee has already stung Woody this year! We were walking along one of our favourite paths in Cornwall, when I noticed him biting his leg. On closer inspection, I found a huge bumblebee nestled in his shoulder, ready to sting. I used my keys to swat it away but Woody still got stung. Fortunately, he isn’t allergic, however I only learnt this after this event!

 

It’s important to keep an eye on stings, be it bee, wasp or nettles that caused it. Like in humans, stings can be uncomfortable for dogs but in most cases they heal on their own. The danger lies in allergies. If your dog is allergic and gets stung, it’s important to get them to the vet as soon as possible. The same goes for any stings to the face or mouth, as these can swell and potentially block airways. If you’re unsure if your dog is allergic, keep a close eye on them and watch out for signs of a reaction.

 

 

 

Grass Seeds

Grass seeds come in all shapes and sizes. They latch onto your dog as they run. Dogs are a great pollinator for many plants, because they’re always exploring and sniffing in places they probably shouldn’t! Take time to look over your dog for seeds after walks, to prevent them causing a nuisance (and potentially hefty vet fees!)

 

A seemingly minor inconvenience, grass seeds can actually be a huge problem! If you don’t remove grass seeds from fur after walks, they can potentially cause havoc for your dog. They can weasel their way into eyes, ears even embed themselves deep into skin, leaving your dog uncomfortable and in pain.

 

 

 

Blue-Green Algae

Blooms of blue-green algae bacteria can produce toxins. They’re common in bodies of still, freshwater such as lakes or reservoirs. Blue-green algae intensify during summer, the increase in temperature and light are the perfect conditions for the bacteria to reproduce. Not all blooms produce toxins, however it’s impossible to tell at a glance. Therefore, it’s wise to assume they all are and take necessary precautions.

 

Blue-green algae is hazardous to both humans and hounds, in severe cases it can be fatal. In humans it causes rashes, vomiting, fever and pain if you’ve swallowed or swam through it. The toxins can kill animals, including wildlife, livestock and your dog. It’s best to avoid contact with affected waters and keep your dog on lead if you’re unsure. If you do come across blooms of blue-green algae, remember to report them to the Environment Agency.

 

 

 

Severe Heat

Last but by no means least, is heatstroke and dehydration. Humans may celebrate summer heat waves, however they pose a potential threat to dogs. It’s important to keep an eye on them, especially if your dog is a puppy, senior, has medical complications, is double coated or is a flat-faced breed. Heatstroke can develop quickly but there’s plenty you can do to prevent it.

 

Avoid walking in the middle of the day, particularly during a heat wave. The sun is its most powerful between 10am and 3pm. Keeping your dog indoors, where it’s cooler, will ensure they don’t overheat. Whenever you’re out with your dog in summer, be sure to seek out shade and take plenty of breaks. Travelling with water will also prevent dehydration and can be used to cool your dog. If your dog shows signs of heatstroke, no matter how severe, it’s important to get them seen by a vet immediately!

 

 

 

Have you come across any of these dangers to dogs before? If so, what happened? How did you react? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments!

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