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Summer Hazards in Cats

By: Dr. Dawn Ruben

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As the mercury rises across the nation, so too do summertime hazards. Preventing these hazards can help maintain the carefree days of summer.

The Outdoor World

Some people decide to allow their cat outdoors in warmer weather. This can result in fights with another pet. For their safety as well as your cat's, either keep your cat on a leash or only allow him outdoors when supervised. Encounters with other animals can result in cuts, lacerations or severe punctures. If left untreated, complications can arise. Flies are more prevalent in the warmer months. Any injury to the skin, even something as small as an abrasion, can be a perfect place for flies to lay eggs. In a short time, these eggs hatch and become maggots. Keeping your pet clean and treating any skin injuries is crucial in avoiding maggot infestations.

Other summer outdoor concerns include:

  • Antifreeze: As summer approaches, many people change their antifreeze/water mixture. Antifreeze, which tastes sweet to pets, is highly toxic.

  • Sunburn: Yes, even cats can get sunburned. If left outdoors too long, especially white cats or hairless cats, sunburns can develop. If left untreated, serious skin damage can occur.

    Table Scraps

    Barbeques and picnics are common summer activities. It may be tempting to give your pet leftovers but try to resist this temptation. Instead of including your cat in the fun, you may cause gastrointestinal upset, which can result in vomiting and diarrhea. Most cats are not used to the high fat foods that are commonly associated with picnics and parties. Mayonnaise and other dairy based items can be particularly bad; cats do not have the necessary enzymes to digest dairy products and spoilage can cause food poisoning.

    Even if you feed your pet non-dairy items like fried chicken or hamburgers, their pancreas may not be prepared for those foods. The pancreas can become inflamed, leading to pancreatitis and abdominal pain, anorexia and vomiting.

    Not only do table scraps pose a threat but so does the charcoal and lighter fluid used to barbeque. Ingesting ash or charcoal can result in significant stomach irritation.

    Water Safety

    Water is often a major part of outdoor family activities. Usually water activities are fun, relaxing and entertaining, but tragedy can occur without proper caution. Pets can drown in lakes and pools just like people. Thankfully, most cats avoid water but if your cat enjoys a dip in the pool, watch him carefully.

    Be on the lookout for stagnant pools of water. At certain times of the year, algae forms along the edges of stagnant or infrequently used bodies of water. Some forms of this algae, particularly blue-green algae, are very dangerous. Ingesting some of the algae can cause serious, rapid illness and can kill pets. Don't allow your pet near stagnant water or algae, and make sure he doesn't drink from these water sources.

    Fishhooks

    Fishing is a popular spring and summer activity. Be aware that the bait you use to catch fish is also tempting to your pet. Many cats have eaten bait – along with the hook and line. Your pet might also step on a hook, which will result in embedding of the hook in the skin.

    The most important thing to remember regarding swallowing a hook is NOT TO PULL THE LINE. This will result in setting of the hook and increasing the chance that your pet will require surgery to remove it. Tie the line to your pet's collar to prevent him from swallowing more of the line and contact your vet. Removing hooks in the skin can be challenging but may be possible. Cut off the barb end and pull it through. Consult your veterinarian if you are unable to remove the hook.

    With a little extra caution, summertime can be the enjoyable time of the year is was meant to be.

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