Summer advice for your pets

(Posted on: February 1)

Summer has been hot and dry over New Zealand. Here are a few tips for how to keep your pets safe and healthy during this weather.

Shade for animals

A cool shady area for animals is very important. Make sure your animal has plenty of shade available throughout the day, or bring them inside a cool home.

Dogs can get sunburned just like we can. Short haired breeds and those with white or light coloured fur are particularly sensitive to the sun’s harmful rays and are at an increased risk of skin cancer. Protect your dog by providing shade if you are going to be outside for extended periods of time and by using sunblock made especially for dogs. 
Mild sunburn can be treated by bathing your dog with cool water and applying cool compresses. If your dog’s skin is red or raw, if there is blistering or if your dog seems to be in pain, they should be taken to the vet immediately.

If animals are contained in a run or in cages (such as rabbits, guinea pigs and chickens), they need to be protected from the sun as the shade moves and require ventilation to allow for flow of a cool breeze. Putting frozen water bottles in hutches helps animals to regulate their body temperature.

Water for animals

Animals can consume up to three times more water on a hot day, so you need to make sure there is enough cool water available throughout the day.

To keep water cool, put in large ice blocks and give dogs dogsicals (large iceblocks with food frozen inside to encourage them to lick the ice). Also put water in deep enough dishes so the water doesn’t get too hot. Avoid metal bowls because they heat up water quickly in this weather.

If your animals water supply relies on power to pump water to troughs, and you have planned or unplanned power outages, make sure you have a back-up power supply.

Hot concrete

Burned paws from a hot pavement is another common danger in the summer months.

If the surface you’re walking on will burn your feet, it will burn your animal’s paws. To test if it’s a safe temperature, hold the back of your hand on the concrete for three seconds, and if you can’t hold it there it’s too hot for your animal.

Walk in the coolness of the early morning or evening to avoid hot roads and pavement.

Transporting animals

Hot vehicles can kill. If possible, avoid transporting animals on hot days and if you have to, don’t leave them in parked cars, floats or trailers. If it is too hot for you to sit on, then it’s DEFINITELY too hot for your pet.

Even if you've cracked a window, studies have shown that the air does not move around inside the vehicle even if a breeze is blowing outside the vehicle.

Pre-existing medical conditions

Pay extra attention to how your animal is coping in the heat if they have any pre-existing medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, respiratory disease or a previous heat injury (such as heat stress/stroke), as their ability to tolerate hot conditions is significantly reduced.
Breeds of animals that have a shortened nose (brachycephalic) such as a pug or Persian cat, cannot regulate their body temperature well and are susceptible to heat stress.
If you are concerned that your animal may be suffering heat-related illness, contact your local veterinarian immediately.

While summer is a great time to be outdoors and to plan activities with your pets, it is always important to take precautions to keep them safe. By using prevention methods and being aware of their conditions and symptoms, they should be able to enjoy their favorite outdoor activities with minimal risk.