December is creeping up on us fast. It’s difficult for animals to regulate their temperature in the heat, so here are some tips for keeping your furry friends comfortable during summer.
• Always make sure to provide bowls of fresh, cool water for your animals. It’s also a good idea to leave shallow bowls out for wildlife like lizards, as well as a birdbath in the shade.
• Some dogs might enjoy splashing in water as well, so perhaps grab a large plastic container or plastic clamshell pool for them to paddle in. Here at Pilyara, the dogs love swimming in the dam.
• For a special treat, freeze a container of water – or even low-sodium meat or vege stock – to make a giant ice block to give to your pet on especially hot days.
• Groomers might suggest a shave or trim for thick-coated dogs or cats. Animal fur is great at insulating – keeping pets cool in summer and warm in winter, but some dogs with long coats may find it helpful to get a trim, especially if they’re active outdoors and get dirty often. Make sure if you are trimming your dog’s coat that you retain at least an inch of fur all over to prevent sunburn. The best way to deal with a pet’s coat of any length in the hot seasons is to brush it regularly – daily, if possible – to remove shed fur and untangle locks that might prevent heat transfer away from the skin.
• Walk your dog early in the morning or in the evening when the sun is down, and remember that asphalt and concrete can still be hot at the end of the day, so be careful of your pet’s paws if your route is on any sealed paths.
• For caged animals such as birds, rabbits or guinea pigs, ensure their enclosure is kept in the shade. If your caged pets are inside, check that they’re in a space that will remain cool
• For kitties or puppies that like to spend time in the sun, consider a pet-friendly sunscreen to apply on their nose, ears, and anywhere else that has white or light-coloured fur, sparse fur or visible skin. You can find pet sunscreens at your vet and at good pet stores – they’re specially formulated without zinc, which can be toxic to pets if they lick it.
• Above all – NEVER leave a pet alone in a car during the day. A balmy 22C day can cause the temperature to rise to 45C in a car after 15 minutes, even with the windows open.
If your pet does start showing signs of heat stress – panting in cats or excess panting in dogs (especially short-nosed dogs), drooling, weakness or fatigue, or even confusion – it’s important to react quickly.
Cool them down slowly by spraying the animal’s fur and submerging their paws in room-temperature water. Bring them into a cool, well-ventilated area, or into an air-conditioned house. Don’t use any cold water or ice if the animal appears ill, as it can shock the system further. If the animal doesn’t seem to be feeling any better after half an hour, get to a vet immediately.
If you’ve taken everything into account, there’s no reason why summer shouldn’t be the most enjoyable part of your pet’s year.