Summer is finally here and although it’s great to get outdoors with your furry friends, excessive heat can be incredibly dangerous for animals. And with weather experts warning that the next two years will only get progressively hotter, there’s no better time than now to prepare your pets for a safe summer.
But while the heat will hurt them, negligence can be deadly according to recent data by NRMA Insurance, which found that temperatures inside a locked car increased from 28C to 48C in less than an hour on a day in November.
The insurance company also reported that, in the past 12 months, roadside assistance patrols have rescued more than 1,400 animals from locked vehicles on hot days. And, just this week, a man was charged with animal cruelty after leaving his dog in a locked car for several hours causing it to die, according to NSW police.
Clearly, a hot summer is no joke to pets, and understanding how to be a responsible pet owner is vital for their wellbeing. So, to make sure your animals remain safe and happy this summer, here are some key tips to abide by.
Along with never, ever keeping your pet inside a locked car, owners are also warned to limit the amount of exercise animals do on hotter days and to keep it to the early morning or late evening. It’s also good to know that shade isn’t always effective on a hot day as it moves with the sun, meaning your pet could be getting burnt without you knowing.
And while it might be tempting to shave long-haired pets to give their skin more room to breathe, it’s actually the worst thing for them. Not only is a pet’s coat naturally designed to keep them cool during summer but it also stops them from getting sunburnt.
Feel free to trim longer coats but always leave a full inch of hair to protect your pet from getting burnt, while those with lighter or shorter coats should have pet-friendly sunscreen applied every three to four hours on their bellies, ears and nose.
Meanwhile, animals with flat faces – such as pugs and Persian cats – can’t pant as effectively, making them more susceptible to heat stroke. Owners of these breeds, along with those that are elderly, overweight or suffering from heart or lung diseases should be kept in cool, air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.
Overheating is dangerous in all animals, which is why knowing the signs is so important to stop the situation before it becomes dire.
Excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart rate and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, change in gum colour, stupor or even collapse are among the big signifiers. Symptoms could also include seizures, bloody diarrhoea and vomiting, along with increased body temperatures in more severe situations.
Pets don’t react to heat the same way that humans do. For instance, dogs primarily sweat through their feet and cool themselves down through panting. This means that the regular ways humans usually cool themselves down, such as ceiling or pedestal fans, won’t work the same way for pets and shouldn’t be relied on to fully bring temperatures down.
One of the best ways to help an overheating pet is to cool their insides down first by providing them with ample cold water and even DIY pup-sicles for dogs. You can also give them ice to lick or pop a few ice cubes in their water – so long as you monitor that they don’t drink it too fast and become bloated.
Meanwhile, wrapping your pets in cooling body wraps, vests or mats are also great options, as these products can be soaked in cool water or contain cooling gels and can stay cool (but often dry) for days. And if they start showing signs of overheating, try putting cool, wet clothes on their necks, armpits or behind their hind legs, or gently wetting ears and paws with cool water.
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