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Hot dogs: summer threats to our beloved pets

20th August 2014 Print

Dogs and cats love basking in the sunshine, but Direct Line Pet Insurance warns that summer can also be hazardous for our furry friends.

Skin allergies, for example, often flare up during summer months as pets spend more time outdoors in grass, which can aggravate existing conditions. With an average claim cost of £668, having inadequate insurance can be costly.

From overexertion in the heat to being left in a car unattended, heat stroke and dehydration are common problems for pets during warmer months which can have potentially fatal consequences. Analysis of claims data by the insurer highlights that in some cases, the claim cost for heat stroke amounts to more than £3,500, with an average cost of £444.

Most common summer conditions and the average claim cost

Claim - Average claim cost

Grass seed £234

Heat stroke £444

Skin allergies £668

Lung worm £800+

Source: Direct Line 2014

Madeline Pike, veterinary nurse at Direct Line Pet Insurance, says: “Every year, as soon as the weather warms up, we see an increase in claims for summer related incidents. Summer can cause significant distress to our beloved pets but many of these ailments are both preventable and treatable.”

“Ask your vet whether your dog needs to wear sun cream and what type you should use. If they have thin or fair fur, they can be more susceptible to sunburn, just like humans. Keep an eye on your dog when outdoors in strong sun and try to avoid long grass. Make sure to wash their toys if they are left outside and discard food left in their bowls which could attract insects.”

“One of the biggest challenges about owning a pet is maintaining their health. We recommend checking that your pet’s vaccinations are up to date all year round.”

Direct Line Pet Insurance most common summer claims

Grass seeds in paws

Lung worm

Heat stroke/sun burn

Poisonous flowers

Upset stomachs

Skin allergies

As temperatures rise, follow Direct Line’s top tips to help keep your pets safe in the sun

If a pet has thin or fair fur, they are vulnerable to sunburn and subsequently skin cancer. Seek prompt veterinary advice if your dog or cat’s skin looks sore or scaly.The best prevention is to keep your pets out of the sun when it’s at its strongest (11am until 3pm) or apply a non-toxic waterproof sunblock.

Do not over exercise your dog in hot weather and avoid walking when the sun is at its strongest.

Ensure your pet has access to plenty of clean water to avoid dehydration (you may even need to take some on walks). Don’t forget, dogs will need fresh water if they are at the beach, drinking saltwater is likely to make them ill.

Long haired animals may need their coat trimming in order to keep them cool, seek advice from a professional groomer.

Never leave your pets shut in a car unattended. Your car can get extremely hot within just a few minutes, which could result in an animal fatality. Cats and dogs can’t sweat so they overheat more quickly than humans, even if they have access to water and good ventilation. Heatstroke and dehydration can have devastating consequences.

Animals can suffer from fatal heatstroke within a matter of minutes. Signs of heatstroke include collapse, excessive panting, and dribbling. If your pet shows any signs of heatstroke or distress contact your vet immediately.

Watch out for grass seeds (awns) of the meadow grasses. They often become trapped in dogs’ ears causing violent head shaking, or may become embedded in between paws or other areas.