Summertime means time for picnics, hikes, swimming and fun at the beach. While there is certainly nothing wrong with taking our pet along, we must remember that they have to contend with the summer heat just like us. Unlike humans, cats and dogs only sweat through their paw pads and pant to help regulate their body temperature when it is hot outside.
Here are some tips to help keep your pet safe this summer:
Ensure that your pet’s vaccinations, tick & flea and deworming treatments are up to date.
Vaccinations help to protect your pet from highly contagious and deadly diseases and improve your pet’s overall quality of life. Keeping your pet protected against parasites (internal and external) is also important. Fleas can cause skin irritations/infections and ticks can carry tick borne diseases. Worms can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, malnutrition, weight loss and anaemia.
Provide your pets with plenty cool, clean, fresh water and lots of cool shade.
Our pets get much thirstier than we do when they are hot and can dehydrate quickly. So provide them with plenty of fresh, cool water and refill their water bowls more often. Add ice cubes to help keep the water cool. Make sure your pets have a shady place where they can hide from the hot sun. If possible, bring your pets inside during extremely hot days.
Be aware of the signs of heatstroke.
Know the symptoms of heatstroke, which includes excessive panting, or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, excessive drooling, elevated body temperature, seizures, stupor or even collapse. If you suspect that your pet is suffering from heatstroke, please take him to the vet immediately! Do not put your pet in an ice bath, it will cool him down too quickly, rather cover him with a towel soaked in cool water.
NEVER EVER leave your pet in a parked car!
Never leave your pet in a parked car, even if the windows are open. Open windows are not sufficient to cool a parked car in summer. The temperature in a parked car can rise with 10ºC in just 15 minutes. Heatstroke can develop in minutes and can be fatal!
Exercise during the cooler parts of the day.
Exercise your pet during the early morning or late evening hours when it is cooler. The intense heat of midday can overwhelm your pet and induce heatstroke. The hot pavement, tar, stones and concrete can also burn you pet’s paw pads, which is very painful and takes long to heal.. Be especially cautious when exercising brachycephalic breeds, like Boxers, Bulldogs, Persian cats, etc. in summer time, as they are prone to breathing difficulties.
Don’t forget the sunscreen.
Pets with short, white or light coloured fur or that have light coloured skin that is exposed, are most likely to suffer from sunburn. Just like a sunburn is painful to you, it is painful to your pet too. Overexposure can also lead to skin cancer. Pet-friendly, quick-drying, lick-resistant sunscreen, e.g. Kyron Petscreen, can be purchased from your local veterinary clinic or vetshop.
Collar, ID tag and microchip.
Ensure that your pet is wearing a collar with an ID tag attached. Also have them microchipped and make sure that your details on the microchip company’s database is correct and up to date. These will help the person or welfare organisation that finds your missing pet to contact you and reunite you with your pet.
Watch the weight.
Overweight and obese pets suffer in summer, because the excess weight and fat makes if difficult for their lungs to function properly and to regulate their body temperature. This increases their risk of developing heatstroke. Speak to your vet or vet nurse for the best advice to help your pet lose those unwanted kilos safely during summer.
Don’t skimp on the grooming.
Brushing your pet more often than usual can lower your pet’s risk of developing problems causing excessive heat. It also provides an ideal opportunity to check your pet’s coat, skin, paws, ears, etc. Feel free to trim longer hair on your dog, but never shave you dog’s coat: the layers of dogs’ coats protect them from overheating and sunburn.
Don’t assume your dog can swim well.
Just because dogs know instinctively how to swim, does not mean they are good swimmers. If your dog jumps into the swimming pool, he might not be able to get out without help and could drown. Some dogs breeds are not good swimmers are all, e.g. English and French Bulldogs, Staffordshire Terrier, Dachshund, Pug, Chow Chow, Bull Terrier, Basset Hound, etc. Make sure that your dog cannot get into the pool if you are not around. Alternatively provide him with a kiddies splash pool to play and cool down in.