The heat of an Australian summer can be unbearable – especially when temperatures start to soar. While cold drinks and swimming at the beach can provide us with some relief, have you thought about how your furry friends will keep cool?
We’ve compiled some important summer safety tips for your pets.
1. Never ever leave your pooch in a hot car
It can take only minutes for your dog to develop heatstroke and suffocate in a hot car. Temperatures can more than double – for humans, exposure to these types of temperatures can be extremely dangerous. But dogs are particularly at risk because they cool themselves by panting. If the air around them is too hot, particularly when they have no access to water, they are physically unable to regulate their body temperature. The best rule of thumb? Do not leave your dog in a vehicle. Dogs (and cats) can overheat even when the windows are left down or if the car is in the shade.
NOTE: If you find a pet in a hot car, call 000. The police are equipped to dispatch officers quickly from the nearest police station, which is critical under these circumstances.
2. Protect your pets from parasites (fleas, mosquitoes and ticks)
If your pet has not been protected, they’re at risk of contracting heartworm, Lyme disease and a host of other nasty conditions. Don’t forget – many of these diseases can be caught by humans too.
3. Keep your dog’s paws cool
Surfaces such as asphalt and metal heat up fast under the heat of summer. Where possible, try to keep your pet off the hot asphalt. Over-exposure can burn paws, increase their body temperature and lead to overheating. If you have a ute, try not to leave your dog in the bed section. The hot metal in the car can burn their paws fast.
4. Give your pets easy access to fresh drinking water and shade
Dogs get much thirstier than we do when they get hot. Other than drinking and panting they have no way of cooling themselves down. Keep your pet in the shade as much as possible over summer. Dogs and cats both like to sunbathe, but direct exposure can make them overheat (especially dogs) and this will cause heatstroke.
5. Dogs can get sunburnt too!
Dogs with light-coloured and short coats are at risk of sunburn in the hotter months. Just like it is for people, sunburn can be extremely painful for a dog. Overexposure to the sun can lead to skin cancer too. If you think your pet is at risk of sunburn, talk to your local veterinarian about sunscreens for your dog.
6. Keep an eye on your dog’s weight
After a long winter that extended into spring, many dogs will have put on a few pounds while they relaxed indoors. So summer is the perfect time to get into a good exercise routine. Talk to your veterinarian, give your dog adequate rest and if he’s especially overweight – gently ease him into physical activity.
7. Pay attention to the warning signs
Excessive panting, increased heart rate, weakness, drooling, diarrhea and vomiting are all clear signs that something could be awry with your favourite pooch. They imply that your dog isn’t able to cope with the surrounding environment, or could be having a heatstroke.
8. Keep their fur trimmed
Pay special attention to your pet’s fur during summer. A quick shave might be a relief to your pet from sweat, but remember that fur protects them from the sun, flies and mosquitos, so only trim away their fur where possible.
As always, talk to your veterinarian about any concerns you have about your pets in the warm, summer weather.