Summer in Melbourne can be pretty brutal. And if you’re feeling the heat, chances are your pets are too!
While most cats and dogs are quite efficient at cooling themselves down, when the weather warms up, they can become vulnerable to overheating. But with a few key steps, you can help keep your pets cool and safe on the hottest summer days.
Walk your dog earlier or later in the day
While you might be on holidays and have time in the middle of the day to walk your dog, it’s not a great option if it’s a hot day. Walking your dog in the hottest parts of the day not only risks them overheating but there’s a high chance they may burn their feet on the footpath or road. If the ground feels hot to your touch, it’s too hot for your dog’s feet!
If it’s a hot day, go for walks in the early morning or in the evening to avoid the harshness of the sun. Take it slow and allow for plenty of breaks during your walk. If you can, opt for two shorter walks rather than a longer walk. And if it’s simply too hot to get outside, if you have the space inside your house, opt for some indoor games with your dog, such as modified versions of fetch.
Swap out some of your pet’s dry food with wet food
Increasing the amount of wet food you offer your pet on hot summer days is a great way to get a bit of extra hydration into them with little effort. If you do add more wet food into your pet’s diet, don’t forget to accordingly reduce the amount of dry food provided so you don’t overfeed them.
Provide plenty of fresh drinking water
Water is really important to help your pets avoid becoming overheated and dehydrated. This can be harder with cats, so entice them with running tap water or a water fountain or putting out additional water bowls. Opt for ceramic bowls, as they are great for keeping the water cold, and won’t absorb the water as quickly as other bowls can.
Don’t forget to give your dog water while they are on a walk or out and about – a portable water bowl makes this an easy task for providing water on the go.
Help your pets keep cool
If possible, keep your cat or dog inside during the hottest parts of the day, with cool air circulating via fan or air-conditioning. An ice pack wrapped in a damp towel, or a cooling mat will help provide your furred friend some cool relief in the worst of the day’s heat.
Most dogs love water and will appreciate getting wet when it’s warm. A nice refreshing swim or a play with the kids under a sprinkler or hose are great ways to help cool your dog down.
Signs of heat stroke
Even if you do everything you can to help cool your pets down on those hot summer days, they can still become overheated in certain circumstances. Flatter-faced brachycephalic breeds of dogs (such as pugs, bulldogs and shih tzus) and cats (persians, burmese and himalayans) are also at increased risk of heat stroke due to their shortened noses and ineffective panting.
Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition, so it’s important to know the signs to look out for.
- Distressed breathing
- Panting that seems to be excessively laboured
- Drooling or salivating
- Glazed eyes
- Difficulty walking or weakness
If you think your pet may have heat stroke, you need to try and cool them down as quickly as possible. Move them into air-conditioning or under a fan and spray cool water onto their fur and skin and call your vet for advice.
The Moorabbin Veterinary Hospital team are here to help
If you are ever concerned that your pet may be overheating and becoming unwell, please get in touch. We are open every day of the week and will always prioritise emergency cases. You can call us on 03 9555 4808.