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How to keep your pets cool in summer

By George Hadgelias
We all feel the heat in summer – our pets included. So what can you do to keep your furry friends cool and safe at home in the heat?

How hot weather can affect pets

Cats, dogs, and other pets all feel the heat and despite their fur, they can also get sunburnt.

In hot weather, they are at risk of heat stress or heat stroke.

Worst case scenario: The heat can even be life threatening for your furry friend. Vets warn it can happen fast when the conditions are right.

Dogs are particularly susceptible to heat stroke as they only perspire around their paws and nose.

Warning signs and symptoms of heat stroke in dogs include excessive panting or saliva, high body temperature and the animal’s gums turning blueish purple or bright red.

You can reduce the risk of heat stroke in your pets by making sure they have access to:
– Good ventilation so they don’t overheat (i.e. cool floors and an overhead fan)
– Plenty of cool water to drink so they stay hydrated and extra bowls of water in case
they get knocked over, and
– Lots of shade (like a verandah, garage, or dense shady trees).
Don’t ever leave your animal in a confirmed space – like a kennel or car – on a hot summer day. And avoid physical activities like games and walks in the hottest part of the day.

Ideas for keeping your pets cool

We asked some pet owners for their tips on how they keep their pets cool on hot summer days.

Melinda takes her labrador for swims with her at the beach or sets up a shallow paddle pool at home. She also gives him a cool bath when it’s hot. Her dog also receives frozen treats in hot weather like frozen peas, blueberries, or she makes dog-friendly ice blocks.

If she has to go to work she often leaves her pooch with a relative who has air-con for the day.

Audrey makes her large German shepherd ice blocks out of watered down chicken stock and offers other cold treats like frozen meats. She makes sure her dog has access to a covered area on the cooler earth, tiles or concrete under her house.

She also freezes a damp towel for her dog to lie on. She recommends putting out water in a ceramic bowl in the shade, which makes it stay cooler for longer.

Maryanne uses a spray bottle to cool her pooch down, and says the concrete floors in her living area are a colder spot for him to rest on. She also suggests that really furry dogs should have haircuts for summer.

Harriet has a British bulldog – a breed she says are notorious for dropping dead in the heat. She has a shell pool for him to sit in and he loves standing over the top of a sprinkler.

She also applies sunscreen to her pup as he has a tendency to want to sunbake and get sunburned.

It’s not just dogs – cats feel the heat too.

Rebecca keeps her cat indoors during the day when she knows it’s going to be hot, with the blinds drawn and the windows shut to keep the house cool.

These pet owners all adhere to the golden rule: No walks or physical activity in the middle of the day.

Don’t forget your pet’s health

Summer means more insects, so the RSPCA says that your pet’s flea and fly treatments should be up to date.

Hot weather also brings out dangerous ticks, so you should treat for ticks, and check your animals daily for any sign of them.

The deadly parvovirus is more common in summer, so make sure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date.

Pets & sun safety

Make sure they have access to a cool shady spot to chill out, plenty of water, sun protection, and a cold treat.

Be wary of any potential dangers – dogs can drown if they fall into a swimming pool and can’t find their way out.

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