As the mercury rises your pets need special care to avoid overheating, injury or potentially life-threatening health issues.
The media is good at promoting awareness around the life-threatening health issues from leaving your dog in the car and from toxic algae.
How you can help your pet cope in the summer heat
It is not just in cars where your pet can overheat/get heatstroke. They can also overheat when left inside, from overexertion during exercise and outside in a kennel, run or backyard.
If you need to leave them in the house for any length of time ensure they have access to a cool area and if possible, a fan, air conditioning or a window open with a breeze. Naturally a large bowl of fresh cool water should be accessible at all times.
Make sure their kennel has some shade all day. I don’t mean the kennel is the shade for your dog but the kennel itself also needs to be in some shade during the hottest hours of the day. Keep their water bowl filled and in the shade. If their run is concrete, ensure this is shaded as the concrete temperature will add to your dog’s heat stress and burn their paw pads.
You can make yummy ice blocks for your dog. They can be a choking hazard though so if you dog gulps their food you will want to only give them as crushed ice. Be careful there are no sharp bits of ice though to avoid cutting their tongue. Some nutritious ice block ideas are to freeze broth or see recipe links at the bottom of page. Cats may enjoy an ice block as well.
Wearing one doesn’t mean it is okay to take your dog for a long walk in the middle of the day though. A couple of sites you can purchase cooling coats through at the bottom of page
Walk your dog in the early morning or later in the evening to avoid burning their paw pads. There are dog booties available however do your research to see which ones suit your dog’s activities. A couple of sites you can purchase cooling coats through at the bottom of page
Add extra fluid to your pet’s food. Whether it is a little fresh water or broth, your pet will benefit from the extra hydration during summer. Cats especially benefit from extra moisture
A little trim may be beneficial, however shaving your dog or cat is not good for them. There is a reason come breeds have the coats they do. Double coated breeds should not be shaved. The different hairs have important jobs and you can make things worse for these breeds if you shave them.
Rivers and lakes - be aware of algae. Sea and swimming pools can be great fun. Be aware of the ground temperature. Take your own shoes off to test the temperature. If your feet burn so will your dog’s paw pads.
After swimming wash with fresh water to get the sand and salt water or chlorine out or any potential bacteria that may be in the river or lake water.
If you take your pet out into water deeper than they can stand treat as you would a child and put a life jacket on them. Even if your dog can ‘swim’ if they go overboard, they can tire easily and drown. Do your research on the different brands available. A couple of sites you can purchase cooling coats through at the bottom of page
Yes, you can buy sun lotion for pets. Cancer of the nose does occur in dogs, cats and horses. For animal appropriate sun lotion purchase through a veterinarian clinic.
Even though New Zealand does not (that we know of) have the infectious lyme disease ticks we do have ticks. If your pet goes through areas of long grass especially where any stock has been, they may pick up ticks. Ticks start off very small, so small you will not notice them until they have enlarged after gorging themselves on your pet’s blood. A healthy pet is less likely to be attractive to ticks however comb your pet after they have been through any areas there may be ticks.
What to do if your pet overheats or gets heatstroke
If your pet is not very responsive, is trembling or starts dry retching/vomiting treat as a medical emergency and get them to the veterinary clinic immediately. Drive with either air conditioning going or the windows down.
You can do the following to help your heat stressed pet
Run cool water, not freezing water, over them. If they tend to get stressed with a hose or shower, try using a cup and pour the water over them or drape a soaked towel/large cloth over them. You will need to continually re wet the towel/cloth. Remember their underneath areas e.g. stomach and paws.
Offer them cold water and or ice. One thing to be cautious of is drinking too much water. A little often is much better than a lot at once. If your pet gulps a lot of water or drinks more than a bowl full at once, they can get bloat.
Keep your pet in a shaded cool area.
If they have not returned to normal breathing or still do not appear themselves within 30 minutes take them to the veterinary clinic to be checked.
Links with further information
Freddie and Febee
My Pampered Pets
Ruffwear For the serious outdoor dog as worn by the NZ Police dogs