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Look after your pets

We all love spending summer outdoors with our furry companions, but not being cautious, especially in hot weather, can prove fatal. There are many simple steps that can be taken to keep your pet safe:

Pets can get dehydrated easily so supply plenty of fresh, clean, cool water when it's hot. Have a shallow “pool” of water for him to lie in when he overheats.

Make sure your pets always have a shady place to get out of the sun, be careful to not over-exercise them especially on hot tar roads, and keep them indoors when it's extremely hot.

Never leave your animals in a parked vehicle. On a hot or even warm day, a parked car can become a furnace in a few minutes, even with the windows open. This can rapidly lead to heat stroke / exhaustion and even death.

Excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, weakness, lethargy or even collapse. They can also include seizures, bloody diarrhoea and vomiting. Animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with elderly and overweight pets, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool indoors as much as possible.

Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool. Not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from his fur, and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals that could cause stomach upset.

Trim longer hair on your dog, but never shave him. The layers of dogs' coats protect them from overheating and sunburn in summer. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat.

Give your pet adequate, safe protection against these pests. Read the labels carefully to see if they suit your pet. Some ingredients can induce seizures or other complications. If necessary consult your vet for advice.

Commonly used flea and tick products, rodenticides (mouse and rat baits), and lawn and garden insecticides can be harmful to cats and dogs if ingested, so keep them out of reach. When walking your dog, steer clear of areas that you suspect have been sprayed with insecticides or other chemicals. Keep citronella candles, oil products and insect coils out of pets' reach as well.

Remember that human food and drink may be poisonous to pets. Keep alcoholic beverages away from pets, as they can cause intoxication, depression and comas. Snacks enjoyed by people should never be a treat for your pet. Avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol.

Never use fireworks around pets – they are terrified by the noise and sight of them. Exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns or trauma to curious pets and even unused fireworks can be hazardous. Many types of fireworks contain potentially toxic substances such as potassium nitrate, copper, chlorates, arsenic and other heavy metals.

Make sure you have the George SPCA’s numbers on your phone – office hours 044 878 1990 and emergencies after hours 082 378 7384.

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