We all know how uncomfortable the heat and humidity of summer can be. So imagine you’re wearing a fur coat you can’t take off. This will give you an idea of how it can be for your pet.
Pets including dogs can suffer enormously from the heat, especially older animals. Not all dogs are allowed inside in cool air conditioning (and not all homes have air conditioning).
Dogs and other pets are also unable to sweat like we do – which is a biological response that cools us down. While panting does work to cool the dog’s body down, it’s often just not effective enough and pets can become unwell and even die if they get too hot.
Here are some basic but very important tips to help cool your pet in summer.
- On hot days, bring your pet inside where it is cooler – even if restricted to only a part of the house. A laundry or bathroom that is tiled and shaded from direct sunlight is ideal.
- Provide plenty of fresh, clean, cool water in large containers for drinking. Refresh it at least daily and add ice blocks to keep it cooler. Provide more than one water source as well, in case one gets knocked over.
- Always provide cool and shady areas to rest if your pet is outside.
- Fill a clam shell kiddie pool and place it in the shade (remember water safety if you have kids) for your dog to play in and cool off if he is outside.
- During hot weather, only take your dog walking very early in the morning or after the sun goes down in the evening. Be aware that hot roads and paths can burn his feet, and that dogs and other pets can get sunburnt – even if they are covered in fur.
- If your dog appears to be uncomfortable in the heat, mist water onto his face, head and belly, and wet his feet with cool or cold water. (This is also suitable for other small animals, but be aware that birds must never have their feathers saturated, as this can result in them going into shock). Better yet, take him for a swim!
- NEVER leave a pet in a car in hot weather – even with a window down
and in the shade. They can die very quickly and it is an agonising demise. If you see a pet left in a car on a hot day, call the police on 000.
- Note that other small pets are very susceptible to the hot weather, including cats, rabbits, birds, and guinea pigs. Drape cages with wet towels, allow them to rest on cool tiles, and keep enclosures out of sunlight.
Other things to note during hot weather:
- Snakes are more active in summer. Know how to minimise risk to your pets from snakes.
- Leave small bowls of water out in your yard or garden for local wildlife including birds and small lizards.
- A dog’s fur provides a buffer to help him regulate his temperature. By all means have a summer trim, but don’t clip his hair too short. Note that darker coated dogs absorb more heat than lighter coated dogs.
- Overweight dogs become dehydrated faster.
Heatstroke is a major concern in hot weather. Note if your dog is lethargic, fatigued, or otherwise not himself – and be led by his behaviour. A dehydrated or overheated dog will drool excessively, appear pale, have bloodshot eyes, and be lethargic. If you have cause for concern, see your vet as soon as possible.