Summer is a tough time for our pets – especially the old and ill. There are a number of common sense things that can be done to keep your pet cool in the hot weather:
- Exercise your dog during the coolest part of the day – keep an eye on the weather forecast as it may not always been in the morning & leave the ball & frisbee at home! Some dogs are obsessive compulsive with their toys and do not know when to stop. And sometimes it is just too hot – so skipping the walk for a day or two is fine.
- Never leave you dog in a hot car
- Take water with you if you need to travel with your dog
- Keep your dog inside during hot weather, with several water sources. There are great water bowls that cannot be tipped over for dogs that are inclined to dig in their water bowls. Adding some ice blocks to their water will keep the water nice & cool
- Buy a child’s clam shell and use this as a pool – encourage your dog to use the pool by placing their favourite toys in the pool – or use a local dog beach
- Hydration is vital, so if your pet is not drinking add a little extra water to their meals. It is better to feed more wet food on the hot days as it has a higher water content than dry
- Showering your dog with the garden hose can help them cool down and placing a wet old tea-towel around their neck can also keep them cool
- Some dogs will also benefit from a trip to the groomer to trim their coat
Pay particular attention to dogs with short noses, these brachycephalic dogs are very prone to heat stress, as are those dogs with heart disease.
Dogs unlike people, cannot sweat to cool down, but rather pant to keep cool, so you will notice your dog panting more in the hot weather.
If you feel that your dog is panting excessively and will not settle then your pet needs to be examined by a Veterinarian.
Cats suffer much less than dogs in the heat – mainly because they have more sedentary lifestyle. Cats tend to sleep through the hot weather and reduce their body temperature by eating less.
We tend to see more problems in older cats, mainly those with kidney disease – those that have a higher requirement of water as when they eat less in the hot weather they often also reduce their fluid intake. Feeding them wet food and adding some water to each meal (be careful not to add too much water as some cats do not like sloppy food) will help keep maintain their hydration. If you notice your cat, suddenly not drinking as much then a visit to the clinic is required.
Ensure your cat you know where your cat is in the hot weather – sometimes they can sneak into the car, into the shed or the garage and become locked in with fatal consequences.
Panting is unusual in cats and can be serious sign of heat stress and urgent veterinary attention is required.
Rabbits and other small pets, such as guinea pigs & chooks that live outdoors are very susceptible to hot weather. In some cases the best approach is to bring them indoors to keep them cool till the hot weather passes. In the wild rabbits burrow to keep themselves cool and come out once the hot weather has passed.
When it is warm but not too hot and they are outside:
- Ensure that there are multiple water sources (bottles and bowls), and add ice blocks to keep the water cool.
- Provide them with some ice bricks ( or a bottle of frozen water) to lean against
- Move their hutch into the shady part of the garden
- Place wet towels over the mesh walls of the hutch to keep the hutch cool- like a Coolgardie safe
- Keep checking on them throughout the day
Remember that rabbits are prey species and will hide early signs of ill health.