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Keeping your pet safe during
the coming months...
With Summer supposedly upon us, it is important to
keep your dog safe. Here are some tips fromWillows
team of primary clinicians:
Toxic Ponds –
the danger of Blue-GreenAlgae
Poisoning from blue-green algae is most often seen during the summer months. Blue
green algae grow in stagnant water or ponds where they form ‘blooms’ that give the
water a blue-green or ‘pea soup’ like colour. The algae can also look like blue-green paint
on the surface of the water. These algae produce toxins or poisons that can affect people,
livestock and pets. Not all blue-green blooms produce toxins, but it is not possible to
tell which are dangerous without proper testing, and therefore all blooms should be
considered potentially poisonous. Dogs swimming or drinking from contaminated water
are at risk, as even a few mouthfuls can be fatal. Symptoms include severe vomiting or
diarrhoea, liver failure and neurological (nervous) symptoms, such as convulsions (fits).
Fatalities can occur within 30 minutes of exposure and unfortunately there is no antidote.
A vet should be contacted if exposure is suspected, but prevention is the watchword!
The adder is the only venomous snake native to the UK. The numbers of adders in the UK
are in decline and the adder is a protected species. In the Midlands, adders can be found
in theWyre Forest, HabberleyValley, Kingsford Forest Park and the Malvern Hills. Adders
vary in colour from olive green/yellowish-brown to reddish-brown in the female. The adder
has a black-brown zig-zag pattern and a V or X shaped marking on the head. Adders can
be easily confused with the non-venomous grass snake (
Natrix natrix
One distinguishing
feature is that adders have an elliptical ‘slit like’ pupil whereas grass snakes have a round
shaped pupil (you will have come pretty close to see this, of course!).
Adders are actually very timid and non-aggressive, usually only biting when they are
provoked, and preferring to stay hidden. Bites to humans and animals are more frequent
in the spring and summer, particularly during warmer weather. Adder bites are very painful
but the mortality rate (death rate) after adder bites is low. Snakes will bite if disturbed with
the result that, in dogs, bites are most common on the face or limbs. If you suspect your
pet has been bitten by an adder, you should phone your vet and arrange to take it to them
immediately. You should not try to catch or harm the snake or suck out the venom.The vet
will examine your pet and decide on the best course of action. In some cases a drip or anti-
venom may be required, depending on the location and severity of the bite.
In order to avoid your dog being bitten by an adder, it is best to keep him or her on the lead in
areas that adders are known to inhabit, particularly during warm weather fromApril onwards.
Avoid hot dogs in cars
You should never leave your dog alone in a car. Even on a sunny day that is not
especially warm, the temperature inside a car can soar to as high as 47 degrees Celsius
within 60 minutes. Dogs do not have the ability to sweat (they pant instead), and
coupled with a thick, hairy coat this can lead to an inability to cool down sufficiently as
the temperature rises, leading to ‘hyperthermia’. Dogs can die very quickly if left in a hot
car, and if you see a dog in a car on a warm day and you cannot locate the owner, you
should contact the police.