Ahead of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, Everypaw Pet Insurance’s resident vet Dr Anna Foreman has revealed her top five risks that pet owners should be conscious of when taking their pet to any Jubilee celebrations over the coming days, from loud noises to travelling.
Loud noises – Some dogs and cats tend not to be phased by loud noises such as fireworks, plane flyovers and music, however there are many who are. Other pets who are classed as prey animals, such as rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters, can also be frightened by such phenomenon.
An animal spooked by loud noises can be unpredictable – some freeze, some run, some hide away, and some can become aggressive, it depends on what their ‘flight or fight’ response is telling them.
Animals who run from loud noises have more of a risk of becoming lost
As well as animals who we know react badly to loud noises (for example those with pre-existing noise phobias or behavioural issues), dogs who have grown up over lockdown without such noisy events as bonfire/new year firework displays are particularly at risk as they have not experienced these sorts of events before, and so we do not know how they will respond.
To keep animals safe, provide them with a hidey-hole where they can take cover over the Jubilee Weekend – for small furries this may be a padded nesting box, and for dogs and cats this may be a covered crate or enclosed bed.
Animals who run from loud noises have more of a risk of becoming lost – for this reason it is also important to make sure their microchip details are kept up to date regarding address and contact telephone number.
Dehydration and heat stroke – Heat stroke is something that should be watched out for over the Jubilee Weekend, especially as the weather is expected to reach the 20s (centigrade) in London.
If a dog gets too hot it can develop heat stroke – this is where the body’s internal temperature rises to above 39.2oC due to being in external heat for too long.
Not only can dogs get heat stroke from being outdoors in the sun, they are also very prone to developing heat stroke if left in enclosed spaces without ventilation, such as cars and the back of vans, or by being exercised in warm weather.
Dogs in general should not be exercised in the middle of the day in warm weather
Some breeds of dog cannot tolerate the heat, and particularly exercising in the heat, more than others. Brachycephalic breeds, such as pugs and French bulldogs, are particularly prone to heat stroke and so extra care should be taken with these dogs in hot weather.
Additionally, older dogs, as well as those with underlying health conditions, do not tolerate the heat as well as younger healthy ones.
Dogs in general should not be exercised in the middle of the day in warm weather – instead the cooler early mornings or evenings are far safer. A dog won’t die from missing one walk, however they can if they go for one in hot weather!
We can tell if our dogs are dehydrated by looking at their gum colour and hydration – if an animal is well hydrated their gums will be pale pink and moist, however if dehydrated their gums will be pale and dry. They may also have a skin tent (a prolonged flattening of the skin when it is ‘tented’ up over their scruff) and sunken eyes.
With heat stroke prevention is key, however noticing early signs can also save lives. If a dog shows any signs of dehydration, is excessively panting, passes any vomit or diarrhoea, or is weak or lethargic, they should be taken straight to the vets to have their temperature checked.
In the meantime, active cooling measures (such as wrapping the animal in a cool water soaked towel) can be put in place – an animal should not have cold water thrown over them as this can lead to shock.
Hazards such as broken glass – With people having parties and BBQs over the Jubilee Weekend, there is the risk of animals becoming injured.
Broken glass from bottles or packaging, hot cooking surfaces left unattended, outdoor fires etc. all pose risks not only to our pets but also wildlife. If you are going to have an outdoor fire over the Jubilee Weekend, make sure that there are no hedgehogs or other wildlife hiding away in the logs and undergrowth.
Hot cooking surfaces should always be monitored, and any broken glass cleared up immediately. If an animal suffers from a burn or cut, please ring your vet’s emergency line for advice and/or a visit.
Eating foods they shouldn’t – Animals, particularly dogs who are scavengers, are prone to eating things they shouldn’t when given the opportunity!
At parties and BBQs, corn on the cobs and skewered meats pose significant foreign body risks, fatty foods pose a risk to those prone to suffering from pancreatitis, and foods dangerous to animals such as chocolate, raisins, chewing gum etc. can lead to toxicities.
If you see your animal eating something it shouldn’t, even if it isn’t displaying these signs, please contact your vet for advice
With toxicities, chocolate in certain quantities (depending on the cocoa strength), any quantity of raisins or chewing gum (containing xylitol), and paracetamol, ibuprofen or other drugs or alcohol in certain quantities can all be fatal to an animal. Even a cat nibbling on some lily leaves or a flower can be toxic.
With foreign bodies, any object that is not edible (such as a dog or child’s toy, baby wipes, skewers) or even appears edible (bones, corn on the cob) can cause an obstruction or perforation in animals. Meat on skewers can be swallowed whole and perforate the stomach wall or intestines, corn on the cobs cannot be digested and so can obstruct the intestines, and bones (even chewed) can cause a perforation or obstruction depending on the type and quantity eaten!
With fatty foods, some dogs can develop pancreatitis after ingestion of even a small quantity – pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas, the organ that releases digestive enzymes to break down food.
When some animals eat very fatty foods, this organ can become inflamed due to the quantity of these enzymes needing to be released. This inflammation is very painful – a dog can be seen to be inappetent, stretching out their abdomen in the prayer position, vomiting etc. These signs are not exclusive to pancreatitis – they can also be seen with a foreign body or toxicity, and so your vet should be contacted immediately if concerned.
If you see your animal eating something it shouldn’t, even if it isn’t displaying these signs, please contact your vet for advice as they may need to be made to be sick!
Travelling – With a lot of travel to visit loved ones, friends and family over the Jubilee Weekend, please be mindful of wildlife and other pets such as cats when driving.
With an increase in cars on the road, road traffic accidents involving animals are more likely to occur – these can be fatal to both animals and humans depending on their severity.
If taking dogs in the car, make sure they are well secured (this is now a law), are kept cool, and if going on long journeys are allowed regular toilet and water breaks.
Some dogs are prone to anxiety and travel sickness on car journeys – please contact your vet well in advance of travelling if you are concerned about these.