A VET has listed some of the biggest health risks to dogs at this time of year, including blue-green algae, grass seeds – and angry birds.
Martin Stevens has been a vet for 26 years and says many dog owners don’t realize the risks that can occur during summer.
One of the biggest dangers is grass seeds. They can get stuck in ears, paws and eyes.
A blue-green alga in ponds, rivers, lakes or wetlands can be dangerous, as well as sexing birds who may strike to defend their nests and young.
Martin also revealed that dead animals are a lesser-known threat.
They may have been left to rot in the sunlight before they were eaten by your dog, causing an upset stomach.
The veterinarian, who has joined forces with John Lewis Pet Insurance, said: “Always check over your dogs after you’ve walked them.
“Grass seeds are commonplace across wild fields, verges, and meadows throughout the UK – and can even find their way into dogs’ lungs.
“Rye, barley and wheat are the biggest culprits so take special care when walking your dog around these.
“Spaniels – with their large paw pads, drooping ears and relatively wide eye sockets – are among the worst affected when it comes to grass seeds.
“My rule of thumb is generally if you can remove it with just your fingers, do so – but if it’s stuck somewhere or out of sight, ask a vet for help.”
Veterinarians stress the importance of reducing the danger of common hazards.
These include heatstroke, sunburn and scorched paws from hot pavements.
In terms of dehydration, Martin claims many breeds of dogs can hide it well when they’re under the weather because of a lack of water.
Remember to always take frequent breaks, and also offer your dog plenty of water.
Sunburn is most common in white or short-haired breeds of dogs. They should be protected from the sun by using suncream.
Martin added: “When your pooch is swimming, be aware of blue-green algae.
“Check safety rules and use local knowledge and information to decide if it is a safe swimming spot for your dog.
“And keep dogs away from rivers during bird mating season – this can be hugely disruptive to the natural ecosystem, and birds may attack.
“Dogs are more likely to eat kids’ food during summer holidays, but they are at risk if they eat dead animals or spoiled food when out on walks that might have been sat out in the heat.”
Niall Lownie, head of John Lewis Pet Insurance, said: “While many of these issues would be covered by a pet insurance policy, no one wants a summer family adventure to end up with an unexpected trip to your vet.
“We’d urge all dog owners to take a moment to check for hidden dangers, especially if you are in an unfamiliar environment on holiday or a day trip.”
After a survey of 2,000 owners, the brand found that 21 percent rarely or never checked their dogs for grass seed after a stroll.
And 29 per cent weren’t aware they could be harmful to their four-legged friend.
One third of dog owners (34%) didn’t even know that darker-colored dogs and older dogs were at a higher risk of suffering heat stroke during the summer.
And 28 per cent of those polled report that their dog is susceptible to vomiting, diarrhoea or both – which Martin attributes to summer heat.
Martin added: “A lot of looking after a dog in summer is common sense – if you can’t put your hand comfortably on the pavement or fake grass in heat, then it will also be too hot for them.
“But many problems are things we haven’t necessarily thought about, or don’t consider to be an issue until they happen.
“A sensible rule to live by is that if you’re struggling with something, so are they – put yourself in their paws.”