Protect your pet from overheating

Author picture Jessica

Most pets can't sweat in the same way we humans do. As such, overheating can have really dangerous consequences for your pet's health during the summer heat. How do you keep your pet cool on these really hot days? Here are 6 tips for keeping your pets refreshed and chilled-out.

1: Provide access to cool places

Make sure your pet always has access to a cool shady spot, both inside and outside. Make sure that any rabbit, rodent or bird cages are kept in a cool, shady place. Also, be sure not to hang a birdcage too high, as warm air rises and can be hottest near the ceiling. 

You can easily cool your smaller animals by chilling a solid object (such as a tile or filled water bottle) in the refrigerator first and place it in the base of the cage. Alternatively, drape a piece of damp, cool white cloth over the cage (choose white material, as dark material can create heat). Rabbits can really suffer in the heat, so be sure to provide them with plenty of shady, cool places to hide.

Dogs and cats can recline on a cooling mat, however, do your research before purchasing one of these as the quality can vary: make sure you buy a cooling mat that doesn't leak or break quickly. You can create your own cool cushion by placing a water bottle in the freezer and wrapping it in a cloth or towel for your furry friend to relax on.

If you are going to walk your dog, choose a shady dog park and walk during the cooler part of the day, such as the early morning. The beach can seem fun for dogs who like to swim, but there is a risk their paws will burn on the hot sand. Instead, aim for forests or shady parks. Also, be extremely careful walking on asphalt: dark asphalt and pavement can burn your pet's paws, so always test it first by placing your bare hand against the surface for five seconds. Too hot for you? Too hot for your dog.

2: Avoid intensive daytime exercise

Dogs suffer from the heat faster than we do, so avoid long, intensive walks and running. Plan exercise in the early and late hours of the day when it is cooler. Don't force your dog to run - instead, watch their body language and let them set the pace and intensity of the walk.

Many dogs don't know their own limits, so make sure your dog has a rest from exercise.  Fetching and running games are best saved for the cooler hours of the day. Do you use a dog sitter at Pawshake? Ask your dog sitter to take the heat into account when planning their dog care. It's great for your dog to enjoy mental stimulation, attention and playtime, but the goal should never be physical exhaustion in the heat.  

3: Make sure your pet stays hydrated

It's essential for your pet to have plenty of water in the hot weather. Be sure to provide fresh drinking water at all times, including a portable dog water bowl whenever you leave the house with your pet. It's a good idea to have a few water containers around the home and garden in case one gets knocked over or emptied (and be sure your pet sitter always tops them up). Don't use ice-cold water, as this can make a dog nauseous. Are you worried that your pet doesn't drink enough? Add a little bit of water to their wet food, making it a 'soup'!

As for cats, don't put your cat's water bowl near a food bowl or litter box: a cat prefers to drink in a separate place. And remember to keep the water topped high in a wide rimmed bowl, so to avoid whisker stress.

Feed rodents and rabbits fresh, water-rich snacks like cucumber and carrot. And for dogs, an ice cube can be a fun treat/toy! Before giving it to your dog, rinse the ice cube with cold water so that your dog's tongue won't stick to it.

4: Brush excessive hair

An extra grooming session is a good way to get some air into your cat or dog's fur. Brush away excessive hair but don't shave your pet unless advised to by your veterinarian. The fur is important for heat regulation. Remember that short-haired pets or pets with light fur can suffer from sunburn and potentially skin cancer. This can also happen to any pet that has a pink nose or ear tips. There are special sunscreens for animals for sale, as well as UV clothing for dogs and cats. But it' always better to simply avoid your animal being exposed to the sun.

5: Pay attention to hygiene

With this warm weather, bacteria can thrive. Therefore, keep a close eye on your pet's hygiene. Be careful that your dog does not drink from dirty ditches or puddles, as this can make your dog sick and cause diarrhea. Don't leave fresh food and wet food out of the refrigerator for too long and clean your pet's food and drink trays extra thoroughly. Change your pet's water regularly to prevent algae growth in the drinking bowls.

Of course, always clean up dog poo when you go for a walk with your pooch. Be sure to keep your cat's litter box extra clean with the warm weather. Keep the cages of your rabbits and rodents extra clean, and check their droppings for diarrhoea and parasites. And remember that the water in your fish tank can warm up and become a breeding ground for extra algae growth. As such, change the water more often than you normally would.

In the warmer months there is also an additional risk of parasites, so check your dog and cat carefully for ticks and fleas. Your rabbit is at extra risk of Myjasis, which can be really nasty if not treated. If you see any change in your pet's behaviour, such as itching, drooling, nausea, a change in appetite or stool routine, consult a veterinarian immediately.

6: Never leave a pet in a car

NEVER leave a pet of ANY kind alone in the car in this weather, or even mildly warm weather. Not with the windows open or for even just for a moment. The temperature in the car can rise super-fast (yes, even on a cloudy day), and can lead easily to fatality. If you still have to travel with your pet, turn on the air conditioning, put a cooling mat in the car, provide drinking water and regularly stop for a walk under the trees. Always pay close attention to your pet to make sure they aren't suffering from overheating.

On vacation? Book a pet sitter

Are you going on vacation this summer and your pet can't come along? Book a loving pet sitter in your area at Pawshake. Your pet can stay out or the sitter visits your pet at your home.

Find a pet sitter

Enjoy the summer and keep it cool!