Pets in hot weather
How to keep your pet safe in hot weather
To protect your dog or cat from hot weather, it's important that you provide plenty of cool, shady spots, lots of rest-time, extra water and frequent brushing to keep their body temperature stable.
1: Provide access to cool places
- Make sure your pet always has access to a cool shady spot, both inside and outside. Make sure that rabbit, rodent or bird cages are out of the sun and not hung too high, as it's always hottest near the ceiling.
- Cool smaller animals by chilling a solid object (such as a tile or bottle of water) in the fridge and placing it in the base of the cage. Alternatively, drape a piece of damp, cool cloth over the cage (choose white material, as dark material attracts heat). Rabbits can suffer in the heat: be sure to provide them with plenty of cool hiding spots and keep them indoors during very hot weather.
- Create your own cooling cushion by placing a water bottle in the freezer and wrapping it in a cloth or towel for your furry friend to chill out on.
- Be extremely careful walking on asphalt, sand, pavement or tiles as this can burn your pet's paws. Always test first by placing your bare hand directly against the surface for five seconds. Too hot for you? Too hot for your dog. Instead, keep the walking to the cooler part of the day and aim for shady parks (but do keep an eye out for snakes and avoid long grass, where ticks can hide).
2: Avoid intense daytime exercise
- Dogs suffer from the heat faster than we do, so avoid long, intense walks and running. Instead, plan exercise and games for the early and late hours of the day when it is cooler. Don't force your dog to run: let them set the pace and intensity of the walk. If it's too hot to venture outdoors, indoor games that are mentally challenging include 'hunting' for food by hiding treats around the house or teaching your dog some new tricks.
- Many dogs don't know their limits, so encourage them to rest. Ask your pet sitter to take the heat into account when planning their time with your dog: the goal should never be physical exhaustion in the heat.
3: Avoid the sun
- The Aussie sun can really scorch, and pets can suffer from sunburn just like humans. In particular, short-haired pets or pets with light fur are susceptible to sunburn and potential skin cancer. This can also happen to any pet that has a pink nose, ear tips or bare belly.
- Fortunately, there are special sunscreens for animals, such as Bark Butter's Healing and Repair Balm, as well as UV-protective clothing for dogs and cats.
4: Keep your pet hydrated
- Provide fresh drinking water daily and take a portable water bowl with you when you're out with your pet. Leave a few full water containers around the home in case one gets knocked over or dries out. Don't use ice-cold water, as this can make your pet feel nauseous.
- Don't put your cat's water bowl near a food bowl or litter box: cats prefer to drink in a separate place. Jeep the water topped high in a wide-rimmed bowl, so to avoid whisker stress. And if you're worried your cat needs more water, add a little bit of water to their wet food, making it a soupy treat.
- Feed rodents and rabbits watery snacks like cucumber and carrot. And for dogs, an ice cube can be a fun treat! Before giving it to your dog, rinse the ice cube with cold water so that your dog's tongue won't stick to it.
5: Brush excess fur
- Extra grooming is a good way to get some air into your cat or dog's fur. Brush away excess fur but don't shave your pet unless advised to by your veterinarian, as fur is important for heat regulation.
6: Pay attention to hygiene
- Warm weather brings bacteria. Be careful that your dog does not drink from dirty ditches or puddles, as this can make them very sick. Don't leave fresh or wet food out of the refrigerator for long and clean your pet's food and drink dishes regularly. Change your pet's water every day to prevent algae growing on their drinking bowl.
- Keep your cat's litter box extra clean and always pick up after your dog when out on a walk. Keep rabbit and rodent cages extra clean, and regularly check their droppings for diarrhoea and parasites. And water in a fish tank can become a breeding ground for algae, so change tank water regularly.
- In summer, there is a risk of parasites, including the dangerous paralysis tick: check your dog and cat every day for ticks and fleas. Your rabbit is also at extra risk of Myjasis, which can be really nasty if untreated. If you see any change in your pet's behaviour, such as itching, drooling, nausea, a change in appetite or toilet routine, consult a veterinarian immediately.
7: Never leave a pet in a car
- NEVER leave a pet of ANY kind alone in the car in this weather, or even mildly warm weather. Not with the windows open, or for even just for a moment.
- The temperature in the car can rise very, very fast (yes, even on a cloudy day), and can lead easily to fatality.
- If you still have to travel with your pet, turn on the air conditioning, put a cooling mat in the car, provide drinking water and regularly stop for a walk under the trees. Always pay close attention to your pet to make sure they aren't suffering from overheating and never leave them unsupervised.
8: Have a plan in case of fire
- It's a fact of life that we can experience bushfires here in Australia. Be sure to factor in your pet into your emergency plans and have a little kit with any essentials and medication ready to go. And if the air in your neighbourhood is smokey, be sure to keep your pet indoors in the air conditioning until things clear up.
- Check out the Queensland Government's great guide to including your pet in your emergency plans.
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Going on a summer holiday? Book a pet sitter today
Are you going on holiday this summer and can't bring your pet? Book a loving local pet sitter from Pawshake to chill-out with them and keep them company, either at your place or at the pet sitters' home.