Summer’s here, and along with the longer days and sunshine that we enjoy so much, there’s also a new danger to our pets: hyperthermia (overheating). And it doesn’t have to be a hot day; even warm ones can cause heat stress in our pets. That’s because with our hairless bodies and lots of sweat glands - human adaptations to a hot climate - a warm day to you or I might actually be a scorcher to your panting pet. Apart from finding a cooler place, the only way your dog, cat or rabbit can lose extra heat is by panting, which is a far less efficient system than the human ability to sweat all over.
Rabbits and dogs, particularly dogs with squashed faces like Bulldogs or Pugs, are especially at risk, although ultimately any animal can be overwhelmed by hyperthermia. Heat stress can develop in only a matter of minutes and can be fatal! Signs of heat stress can include: excessive panting, open mouth breathing, red gums, drooling, vomiting, a lack of energy and trouble walking.
Some tips for keeping your pets cool in summer are:
- Providing wet, cool towels for your pet to lie on and cool down as needed.
- Create your own ice blocks either by freezing water bottles and placing them into your dog’s water bowl to keep it cool.
- Paddling or shell pools for our water loving pets: just add a large rock or fill with some sand to ensure it cannot tip over.
- Create your own shade: tarps, shade cloths and camping shelters are an easy way to create instant shade.
- Install a doggy door and give your pet access to inside the cool house
- Try to walk and exercise your pet early in the morning or in the evening when it’s cooler.
- Provide plenty of cool water: ceramic bowls (rather than metal ones) will stay cooler for longer.
- For indoor cats ensure there is plenty of ventilation and cool air flow in the house.
- Cooling mats and beds to lie on are a great way for our feline friends to cool down.
- Frozen water bottles in an old sock are a great way for our pocket pets to lay along or on and cool down
- Freeze some of their favourite food for a refreshing treat.
- Shade, shade, shade! Ensure they have plenty of shade and are out of direct sunlight.
- When it’s 25 C+ always bring them indoor.
Lastly, don’t forget about wildlife! Install a bird bath, water feature or even a bucket full of water. But don’t forget to add a large rock to ensure they are able to get out of the water if they accidently fall in!