Keeping your pet cool this summer

Did you know that both dogs and cats can get sunburned? Or that short-nosed dog breeds have more trouble cooling down through panting? Or that shaving your dog’s fur coat may be more harmful than not?

The Australian summer heat and sunlight is a serious issue for our pets, who depend on us to keep them safe, happy and healthy.

Here are a few tips to consider to keep your pet comfortable this summer:

PROTECT FROM SUNBURN:

Animals need sun protection on their sensitive areas such as the tips of their ears, their noses and other areas exposed to sunlight. Pets with pink skin or light coloured coats can be particularly vulnerable. There are some pet-friendly sunscreens available that you can apply half an hour before sun exposure. DO NOT use human sunscreen as zinc oxide is toxic to pets.

PROTECT FROM BURNS:

During the hotter parts of the day, our pet’s paws can burn easily on hot surfaces such as on roads, footpaths and sand. It is important to check the heat against your own feet/hands before walking your pets to prevent serious, painful burns.

COOLING METHODS:

Did you know that dogs and cats don’t sweat? Instead, they eliminate heat through their respiration. Panting means that it's incredibly important for your dog to stay hydrated in warm weather. To keep them hydrated, you can offer iced water throughout the day, offering iced treats, provide a clam pool for swimming, providing cooling mats, and keeping them inside under fans or in air conditioning.

HOT CARS:

Regardless of the temperatures outside, the inside of a car rises rapidly. Even with the windows left down. It’s simple; never leave your pets in the car without air conditioning on.

OVERHEATING:

During the hotter parts of the day, especially in summer, our pets can overheat very quickly leading to heatstroke. Brachycephalic dog breeds such as Pugs and Bulldogs tend to be more vulnerable to heat stroke so it is important to only exercise them in the early morning or late afternoon. If your dog overheats, there are a number of indicators to be aware of. Heat stroke signs include excessive or exaggerated panting, lethargy, weakness, drooling, high fever, dark red gums, rapid heartbeat, unresponsiveness and vomiting.

GROOMING:

A dog's coat insulates them from the heat, so shaving isn't the best strategy. That being said, trimming a long-haired dog’s coat, particularly if it is overgrown or compromises normal activity is acceptable. A great tip is to brush your pets more often in the hotter weather to thin out the thick coat and get rid of any excess hair.

If you have any other concerns about caring for your dog during the hottest months, consult with a Veterinarian who will be able to offer you expert help and advice best suited to your pet.

Hollie-Ann Rachow
Cert II AS, Cert IV VN
RVN (Registered Veterinary Nurse).

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