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Australia Day For Pets

Veterinary advice to keep WA pets safe this public holiday

As we all celebrate Australia Day, it is important pet owners are well aware of dangers to our pets this public holiday. The PVE Team have put together this article to help ensure your pets avoid injury or illness.

Australia Day celebrations are synonymous with the BBQ, heat, visiting the beach or hanging out by the pool. Here’s a couple of things to consider.

Cooked bones are very dangerous for pets especially canines. That leftover T-bone or lamb bone, after you’ve munched on the luscious meat, is actually very dangerous for pups. Cooked bones are dangerous for many reasons. They’re likely to cause an obstruction in the digestive tract. They can cause a blockage in the throat, stomach, intestines or rectum. The further along the tract the blockage is, the more work our team needs to do to fix the situation. At the early stage we may be able to remove the bone via endoscope. As it travels further, it is likely surgery is required which can be costly and the risk of survival is decreased.

Another point to consider is the brittle nature of cooked bones. They have jagged edges which are a cause for concern. The cooked bone can perforate the bowel or any other point as it travels through your pet’s digestive system. In these instances, our emergency surgeons need to remove the foreign body, repair the damage, and investigate for further damage to other contact points in the digestive tract. Our colleagues at Animal Emergency Service in Queensland have a great article about a patient they treated who consumed a cooked chicken drumstick. This articles highlights the dangers of cooked bones.

Pancreatitis is another reason pets present on Australia Day. Take a moment if you decide to eliminate the bones but feed your pup the meat scraps on your plate – especially if fat is attached. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas induced by consuming high-fat foods. This illness is very likely to result in hospitalisation for a few days and in severe cases it is lethal.

Another element to consider is the heat. We’re at the tail end of the Australian summer and we all know how hot it can get in Western Australia in January. It’s unfortunate we need to keep reminding pet owners about the dangers associated to heatstroke in pets - but it is necessary.  

Heat stroke (or hyperthermia) is common in our great nation. Some dogs are more susceptible to heat stroke. These are typically the Brachycaphelic breeds which include both dogs and cats. These breeds are recognised by their short stubby faces. Their ability to pant is inhibited because of the biology of their stubby faces and they are likely to present to our hospital collapsed or semi-conscious due to their inability to cool themselves during warm temperatures.

All breeds are susceptible to heat stroke, especially if they’re exercised during the heat of the day or been left in a vehicle.  It’s vital you monitor your pets closely during the Australian summer and avoid exercise or play during the day. Ensure your pets have plenty of shade and water. We recommend walks at sunrise or late at night during the Aussie summer and it's vital you never leave them in the car, not even if you're dashing into the shop.

Don’t forget, hot concrete is damaging to their paws as we highlight in this Facebook post.

A favourite Australian activity during these warm months is visits to the beach. We’re sorry to say but that includes hazards. The most obvious is heatstroke. Another element to consider is if your pet drinks sea water, even if it’s accidental while running along the shoreline. This is of most concern if your pup is Brachycaphelic due to their short snouts.

Salt toxicity (or hypernatremia) occurs because of an increase in sodium concentration in the blood. Pets experiencing this can vomit, have diarrhoea, tremble, drool, have seizures, or enter coma. Pets with these symptoms need immediate veterinary attention as they have little time to receive treatment to help their survival.

When at the beach, beware of fish hooks. Discarded fish hooks are the worst. They smell like fish and are enticing. The damage they can cause as they travel through the digestive tract is more concerning than the damage cooked bones cause.

Also be on alert for stone fish or puffer fish that may be along the shoreline. These guys are very dangerous if consumed by pets. If a pet owner isn’t aware their pet has come in contact with one of these, and aren’t able to tell us, the treatment provided may not be adequate for their survival.

For those of you who decide to play it safe and stay at home, keep a close eye on your pets in and around the pool. Near drownings keep our emergency hospital busy during the summer months, especially long weekends. Strong swimmers need to be monitored closely as well. We’ve highlighted the danger in this post on our Facebook page. The post includes Roger’s* experience. He’s a pug who was chasing his ball which resulted in a visit to our hospital. We also write about Minnie* who was a strong swimmer but unfortunate circumstances resulted in her spending almost a week in our care.

If you’re a pet owner, and you have a pool, we highly recommend you read this PVE article providing advice about First Aid if your pet nearly drowns.

The Perth Vet Emergency team hope you have a wonderful Australia Day public holiday. We’re open and available 24-hours on public holidays if your pet needs our help. We are also open 24-hours this weekend when your veterinary clinic is closed.