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How to keep your pets cool in summer

By James McCay | 25 Jan 2019
6 min read

We all know summer can be a scorcher Down Under, with heatwaves and high temperatures making the indoors a haven. But what about our beloved pets?

Australia is a nation that loves its pets. In fact, the RSPCA estimates 62% of households own a furry companion and that there are over 24 million pets across the country;[1] that’s almost one for every Australian! If you’re suffering through the summer heat, it’s a good bet your four-legged friends are too.

Here’s our guide for keeping your pets cool this summer.

Keep them cool

hairy dog lying on grass in the shade

For outside pets like dogs, make sure they have enough shade to stay out of the hot sun during the day. If you can, bring them inside to get them out of the heat. Remember that brachycephalic breeds (short-nosed or flat-faced breeds) like pugs and bulldogs are more vulnerable to heatstroke.[2]

If you don’t mind cleaning fur out of your pool filter, your pal might like to go for a swim, which means everyone can stay cool and have fun on a hot day. Just make sure you supervise them in case they get into trouble.

Provide plenty of drinking water

brown cat drinking water from white bowl

Pets are going to need to drink more water during summer to stay hydrated, just like humans. Make sure that they have enough drinking water and provide extra water bowls if need be to last them throughout the day when you’re out.[3]

Look out for the little guys

white and orange guinea pig on green grass

Smaller animals like guinea pigs, birds, ferrets and rabbits are also susceptible to heatstroke in hot temperatures. If possible, bring them inside and allow them to sit or lay down on tiled areas. Alternatively, drape the cage with wet towels and provide an icepack wrapped in cloth for your pet to lean against. It’s also important to keep the enclosure in the shade, making note of where the shade will be as the day progresses so they aren’t caught out in sunlight.[4]

Choose walking times carefully

small white dog walking on roadway in the shade

Walking your dog is an important part of keeping them healthy, but pavement under the Australian sun can become scorching hot and burn your pooch’s paws.[5] To check if the pavement is cool enough, place the back of your hand on the pavement and try to hold it for five seconds. If it’s too hot to hold it for five seconds, it’s too hot for your dog.[6]

To avoid the danger, it’s best to go for a walk in the morning or evening when it is cooler. Stick to the shade and grass as much as you can to further keep your dog cool while exercising.[7] If you’re going for a long walk, bring a water bottle and pet bowl to give your dog a drink.[8]

What to do if your dog’s paws are burnt

If your dog has burnt paws, it’s recommended you put their paws under cool water and prevent your dog from licking the wound.[9] Depending on the severity, you may need to take your pet to the vet, as the wound could become infected. The vet will likely bandage the wound after applying an ointment and prescribe antibiotics.[10]

Going to a vet can be expensive, which is why we recommend having pet insurance to help recoup some of the cost of a visit to the vet, subject to your policy’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS). If you’re not sure where to begin with pet insurance, we’ve put together a handy guide you can read our top four tips for choosing pet insurance to get some guidance.

Never leave your pet in the car

dog sitting in a car

If you’re taking your pet with you on a drive and need to stop somewhere, it is crucial to take them out of the car. If you have a dog, find a shady spot to tie their lead to. With cats and other animals, make sure you have a carrier to keep them secure so you can take them with you.[11] If you see an animal locked in a car, the RSPCA recommends calling the police, as pets can succumb to the heat in six minutes or less.[12]

Have livestock? Consider feeding times

brown horse getting shower from man holding a hose

Horses, cows and sheep typically handle the hot weather better than other animals, but it’s still important to make sure they have access to plenty of drinking water and shade, especially in drought conditions. Bear in mind that consuming and breaking down food causes the animal to produce heat, so it’s usually better to feed them easily digestible food early in the morning or in the evening when it’s cooler.[13]

For more information on taking care of livestock animals, you can visit RSPCA Victoria’s tips page.

Taking care of your pet all year

There you have it; those are our top tips for keeping your pets cool during the hot Australian summer. When it comes to looking after the furriest member of the family all year long, it can become pricey – especially when you receive that vet bill.

To help keep your cat or dog covered throughout the year, it can be worth comparing pet insurance to see which type of policy could suit your beloved friend and your household budget.

Sources:

[1] Keeping your pet cool during summer. RSPCA Victoria. 2019.

[2] How many pets are there in Australia? RSPCA. 2018.

[3] Beating the Heat – Protecting Your Pet. Pets Australia. 2019.

[4] Keeping your pet cool during summer. RSPCA Victoria. 2019.

[5] Hot Pavement: The Damage It Can Do To Your Dog’s Paws And How To Avoid It. Mike Clark, Dogtime. 2019.

[6] 5-second rule before walking your dog. Melissa Price, Neighbourhood Watch Queensland (Sandgate 9). 2017.

[7] Five ways to keep your pet cool this summer. Amanda Diaz, RSPCA. 2016.

[8] Chill Out. RSPCA Queensland. 2019.

[9] Hot Pavement: The Damage It Can Do To Your Dog’s Paws And How To Avoid It. Mike Clark, Dogtime. 2019.

[10] Paw Pad Burns on Dogs: What to Do. Aly Semigran, PetMD. 2019.

[11] Five ways to keep your pet cool this summer. Amanda Diaz, RSPCA. 2016.

[12] See a dog left in a car? Call 000 immediately! RSPCA Victoria. 2019.

[13] Tips for caring for animals in hot, dry conditions. RSPCA Victoria. 2019.

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Written by James McCay

James is an avid reader, loves medieval history and historical re-enactment, and the human to animal ratio at home is 2:4 (not including the dozen fish). James studied Creative and Professional Writing at QUT. When he isn't burying his head in a book or talking to his wife about history, he also enjoys making furniture out of reclaimed wood.

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