Tips for healthy pets in summer

RoyalAuto magazine

Hot cars, bee stings, snakebite… summer brings risks for our pets. Read our vet tips to keep yours healthy.

Story: Dr Kerry Bail, veterinarian, Great & Small Veterinary Services, Beaconsfield Upper. 
December 2018

Summer is here and the warmer weather brings risks for our pets. Vets see many pets come in at this time of year because they are out and about with their owners as they travel, garden, and generally spend more time outdoors.

Make sure you know where your local vet is in case of emergency. And if you can, get the details of nearby animal emergency clinics, which are usually open 24/7, even on Sundays and public holidays.

Here are some summer dangers you should be aware of:

corgi against white background

Watch out for your furry friend this summer.  SOURCE: Getty Images

Bee and wasp stings

These can lead to pain and swelling at the site of the sting. Dogs are often bitten on the face as they are curious creatures and love investigating. Look for the sting and remove it if possible. If your pet will let you, place an ice pack wrapped in a damp cloth on the site of the bite to reduce pain and swelling. Some pets can have an anaphylactic reaction to a sting and this can be life threatening. If you notice severe facial and/or neck swelling, difficulty breathing, excessive salivation, vomiting or collapse, seek veterinary advice immediately.

Snail and slug bait

This is very attractive to pets and is highly toxic. Ingestion of even small quantities can be rapidly fatal. Products that claim they are 'safe for pets' generally aren't - they have a bitter taste but this works as a deterrent for only some pets. Others will still eat these baits, so consider whether they are absolutely necessary in your garden or even in your shed. Signs to look for are tremors and seizures. If your dog has accidentally ingested snail bait, bring it in the packet to the vet so we can see exactly what the active ingredient in the poison is.

For a safer option to keep pests at bay, a deep container of beer that your dog can’t access will kill snails and slugs.

dog and owner at the beach

Keep your pets safe this season.   SOURCE: Getty Images.


A curious nature and hunting instinct put dogs and cats at risk for snakebite. Snakes hibernate in winter and start to emerge from their holes in spring as temperatures rise. They are more common in rural areas but are also present in metro areas and in some parks and gardens.

Australia has many venomous snakes and the signs of snakebite vary depending on the species. They may include some or all of the following:

  • Sudden weakness then collapse
  • Vomiting
  • Shaking and twitching
  • Dilated pupils
  • Blood in the urine.

The most common places pets are bitten is the face and legs. If you suspect your pet has been bitten by a snake, keep him as quiet and calm as you can and go straight to your closest vet.

Fertiliser and mushroom compost

Pets love the smell and taste of some fertilisers, and if eaten, they can prove rapidly toxic or even fatal. Dogs can become very ill even if they’ve been digging in a pile of compost, as they then ingest the toxins while licking their paws. Seek veterinary advice if ingested.

german shephard playing outdoors and looking into a gopro

Beware of your dog ingesting fertilisers or compost while playing outdoors.   SOURCE: Getty Images

Poisonous plants

Lilies (such as the tiger, asiatic and Easter variety) can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested. The leaves, stems, stamen, and even the water the lilies are stored in, can all be poisonous. Rhododendrons and azaleas, daffodil bulbs and daphne can also cause problems if they are eaten. 

Hot cars

It doesn't have to be very hot outside for a car to dramatically heat up inside. Keep this in mind, and remember that it takes only a few minutes for a pet to begin to suffer from heatstroke. Parking in the shade or leaving the windows down doesn't help much.

Keep your pets cool while travelling this summer.   SOURCE: Unsplash


With warmer weather comes increased exposure to fleas, ticks and mosquitoes, so it's essential your pet is up to date with their parasite prevention, including heartworm, which is spread by mosquitoes. Ask your vet for the best prevention for your pet.

Travelling with your pets

If you are taking a road trip with your pets remember to always make sure you make regular stops for toilet breaks and to offer your pets cool water. If you freeze a plastic water bottle full of water, it will melt as you go and will help cool your pet down.

Many dogs get travel sickness, which is distressing for the dog and their family. The car movement affects their balance, leading to nausea and vomiting. There is now an excellent anti-nausea medication that can be given in tablet form. This doesn’t have any sedative effects so your pet can enjoy the trip with you.