Summer is a great time to be out and about with your dog; swimming, taking long walks, exploring parks, camping and more. However, Dogs NSW warns the hot weather also brings unexpected summer dangers including snake and tick bites in dogs that can be deadly!

Pet parents need to protect their dogs from many summer threats, such as bushfires, snake and tick bites, sunburn, thunderstorms, heat stress and dehydration, said veterinarian Dr Karen Hedberg.

Dr Hedberg is the spokesperson for Dogs NSW, the peak body in New South Wales responsible for promoting breeding, showing, trialling, obedience and other canine-related activities, and the ownership of temperamentally and physically sound purebred dogs across the state. She is also a Dogs NSW registered breeder and chair of the Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) Canine Health and Wellbeing Committee.

Snake and tick bites in dogs

Snake bites in dogs are a relatively common occurrence in regional areas of Australia according to Tamworth Veterinary Hospital in country New South Wales.

Snake bites can be fatal and your dog’s survival depends on the snake type, bite location, amount of venom injected and how quickly the anti-venom is administered, explained Dr Hedberg.

Some signs of a snake bite in a dog include:

  • shaking or twitching of the muscles
  • difficulty blinking and breathing,
  • hindlimb weakness followed by collapse,
  • loss of bladder and bowel control,
  • vomiting,
  • paralysis,
  • salivation;  and
  • enlarged pupils.

“If you suspect a snake bite, keep your dog calm and quiet, and get to the vet immediately – it will be the difference between life and death!” she said. “Also be prepared by locating local vets who stock anti-venom.”

To protect against snake bites, keep your dog away from high grass and rocks where snakes like to rest and remove excess rubbish (ie wood piles) from your backyard where snakes love to hide!

Tick bites release a toxin that leads to tick paralysis, which can also be fatal! Ticks can be found on any part of your dog’s body, including between the toes and under the lip!

Common signs of tick paralysis in dogs include:

  • gurgling,
  • choking and inability to bark properly due to paralysis of the throat; and
  • some animals may begin to have trouble breathing or they cough when eating or drinking

“Consult your vet for advice on tick prevention products, and if you notice any signs of a possible tick bite, get your dog to the vet immediately, Dr Hedberg warned.