Dr Christina Snow
Keeping your pets cool this summer
Finally the longer days and warmer weather are here, and we can all enjoy more time outdoors with our pets. But please remember that dogs, as well as cats and little creatures like guinea pigs and rabbits are all susceptible to heat stress during hot weather, which can be life threatening. Our pets don’t sweat like we do to cool down (only from their paws and nose!) and need to pant to cool themselves down quickly. During extreme heat this isn’t enough to regulate their temperature, and their condition can quickly worsen. Early signs of heat stress include excessive panting and drooling, distress, red gums and a high body temperature, progressing to fatigue, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Allow your pets to get out of the sun completely, remembering that shade position can change during the day. Better still, bring them indoors on hot days. Brachycephalic (flat faced) breeds such as Pugs, Boxers, Bulldogs and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are more at risk to heat stress so please be extra mindful with these dogs and keep them indoors.
Provide numerous sources of water in case a bowl is knocked over. Ensure containers are in the shade and you can add some ice to the water to keep it cool. You can even freeze stock-flavoured water or pet-friendly treats in ice cubes for your pet to enjoy! And while you are out walking, bring along a supply of water or container to fill up at a tap to offer your dog.
Also, try filling up a kid's clam-pool outside in the shade with cool water for your dog to enjoy!
#3 Reduce exercise
Avoid walking during the hours of 10am-3pm during hot weather, and take your dog to the local beach, creek or river to cool down. Try not let your pet walk at times when the pavement feels hot, otherwise they are at risk of burning and blistering their feet.
#4 Never leave your pet unattended in a car
Take your pet with you. It could only take minutes for your pet to suffer dehydration and heatstroke.
#5 Slip! Slop! Slap!
Dogs and cats with smooth/thin hair and fair ears or noses can be more susceptible to skin cancers, so be mindful of this when the sun is out. Keep them in the shade and apply a pet-specific sunscreen to at-risk areas. Sun protection suits or shirts can be made to fit your animal, which is particularly good for hairless or short haired pets.