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Over the past few weeks in Sydney we’ve had temperatures well into the high 30s and the low 40s and the bad news is that things are only going to get hotter as we head into summer!
Regardless of the size, breed or age of your pet, it’s vital that you know how to keep your pet cool and prevent heatstroke and hypothermia.
Not only is the extreme temperature in the middle of the day uncomfortable and potentially dangerous to your dog, but their paws can also get badly burnt from the heat of the pavement. Take them out in the cool of the early morning or at the end of the day and let them rest at home in the heat of the middle of the day.
Whether you take your dog for an off-leash swim, fill up a clam pool in your backyard, get them into your swimming pool or simply get them into the bath, getting and keeping your pet wet is one of the most effective ways of cooling them down. Once they have finished their swim only partially pat their coat dry, as their wet fur or coat will keep them cooler for longer.
This is especially important if you are leaving your pet alone at home because if they only have the one bowl of water and knock it over (perhaps they might try to climb into it on a very hot day) then they have no source of water and can quickly dehydrate. Put out multiple bowls of water, place them in the shade and change the water frequently.
Not only is this illegal, but temperatures inside a locked car can skyrocket in a matter of minutes, causing your pet to die a very painful death. If you are going somewhere in the car on a very hot day, either leave your pet at home, or take them out of the car with you when you get to your destination. And if you see a pet locked in a car on a hot day call 000 immediately.
Even if your animals usually live outside, on extremely hot days they may not be able to find a cool enough place outside. Areas of your house with cool floor surfaces such as tiles or wooden floors in bathrooms, laundries and kitchens will provide a welcome place for them to quietly lie on a hot day. Turn on your air conditioning or use fans to provide extra relief from the heat for both you and your pets.
Many animals enjoy licking iceblock cubes and another idea is to fill a ‘kong’ toy with fresh mince and freeze that the night before. Not only will licking the frozen meat in the toy keep your dog cool, but it will also keep them amused for hours. And while it’s fine to give your pet ice cubes to eat, never apply icepacks directly to your pet to cool them down as the extreme cold will cause their blood vessels to constrict and then they can’t get rid of the heat.
Small pets that live in cages, such as guinea pigs, rabbits and ferrets are particularly sensitive to extreme heat. Bring their cage inside on hot days to a cool room in your house, such as your laundry and cover their cage with damp towels.
Cats notoriously don’t like getting wet so a good idea to keep your cats cool is to constantly stroke them with a damp face cloth.
Many pet owners mistakenly think their pet will be cooler if their coat is cut shorter, but the opposite is actually true. Your dog’s coat provides a buffer to help him regulate his body temperature so keep his hair at its natural length.
It is really important to keep an eye out for signs of heat exhaustion as pets can deteriorate very quickly in extreme heat: