Well, I hope everyone had a lovely summer, despite the changeable weather. I’m grateful that I managed two weeks of rest and relaxation in warmer climes.

Veterinary practice continues to be busy over the summer months with an influx of holidaymakers to the coastal towns.

There are always the usual summer hazards to deal with and this humid weather seems to have brought on a large number of gastroenteritis problems and an increase in cases of kennel cough.

When it is warmer, dogs and cats like to explore in the undergrowth and we have seen many pets with ticks.

If you are worried about ticks, please contact your vet for advice.

At Dunedin Vets, we have several products which help repel ticks or kill those which attach quickly.

Recently, we were contacted by a regular client at our Dunbar surgery, Mrs Taylor, regarding her cat Tikka.

Tikka is a beautiful, female Bengal cat, who generally remains in the house or nearby surroundings.

They live in a very rural setting so Tikka can wander around happily.

One afternoon, Mrs Taylor heard a bit of a commotion coming from one of her outhouses.

She rushed out to find a very bedraggled Tikka trying to extricate herself from an old oil drum.

Mrs Taylor remembered this oil drum contained some old diesel.

She was very aware of cats being very fastidious, so that grooming can cause them to become intoxicated by chemicals.

She immediately bathed Tikka to try to remove as much of the diesel as possible.

You can imagine that an already upset Tikka was not enamoured by this process!

Instead of lying quietly to dry off, the adventurous Tikka decided to run off and hide.

Mrs Taylor was very concerned as she was about to bring Tikka to our Dunbar surgery for a check over.

When Tikka did return, vet Jonny Hundal examined Tikka.

He was concerned she could have hydrocarbon toxicosis. This occurs when cats come in contact with chemicals such as fuels, lubricants and some solvents.

Usually, self-grooming causes the cat to ingest the toxin, or in some cases they inhale it which can cause a severe pneumonia.

The toxin can cause problems throughout the body and on the skin too.

When Jonny had examined Tikka, he immediately sent her to our Tranent surgery for blood tests and intravenous fluids as she was dehydrated.

Fortunately, Tikka’s blood tests were normal so she did not have kidney damage.

She tolerated her fluid therapy well and was soon looking much happier; however several areas of her skin had become red and she was losing hair especially on her front legs.

Tikka did not want to eat or drink. She was given analgesics, antibiotics and soothing cream was applied to her skin.

Our nursing staff ensured she was as comfortable as possible and as she was not eating by herself, they fed her via a feeding tube several times a day.

Her skin became red and thickened and some areas sloughed off.

She had to have cream applied frequently to the damaged skin, just as if she had suffered burns.

Tikka was finally well enough to go home where Mrs Taylor continued to treat her skin. Tikka started eating well again and is improving daily. Her fur is regrowing and soon she will have her beautiful coat again.

Now Mrs Taylor was very vigilant and realised she had to do something to help Tikka immediately.

If you suspect your cat may have had contact with petroleum-based substances, please contact your vet as soon as possible.

Often the first sign you may have is your pet smells of petrol or diesel.

There may be vomiting or diarrhoea. They may actually be dizzy or confused or showing other neurological problems such as staggering and trembling. There may be respiratory signs such as coughing or wheezing if they have inhaled the chemical.

Do not try to make your pet vomit as this can exacerbate the toxicity.

The first thing you should do is try to remove the chemical from the fur.

In many cases, it is best to bring your pet straight to your vets as soon as possible. The nursing staff at veterinary practices are well trained in dealing with intoxication emergencies.

With petroleum products there are three main areas where the body can be affected: l The internal organs especially the kidneys, so your vet will want to blood sample your pet to check for any damage to the kidneys or other organs;

l The respiratory system can be affected especially if the toxin is inhaled. This often happens if the patient vomits then inhales some resulting in a very severe pneumonia. Your vet may wish to take x-rays to check for this.

l The animal’s skin can also be affected. The petroleum products sit on the fur then soaks through to the skin where they are held in contact by the fur. This causes them to act as a caustic substance, damaging the skin and hair follicles. Often the first sign before the skin damage is seen is hair loss due to the follicle damage.

The treatment for these causes is supportive at all times. There are no specific antidotes. Intravenous fluids are administered, this helps overcome dehydration and helps eliminate toxins from the body.

Analgesics are given to help keep pain from damaged skin and internal organs to a minimum.

Antibiotics are given, as damaged skin is very prone to secondary infection and they are always given if pneumonia is present. Skin treatment has to be intense to keep infection to a minimum and encourage damaged skin to recover.

Thankfully Tikka has made an excellent recovery, thanks to Mrs Taylor’s quick thinking and the intense nursing care given by the nursing team at Dunedin Vets.