Keeping your pet happy in the heat

Making sure your pet stays well hydrated on hot days is vital. It’s also important to know the warning signs of heat stress. There are a few things pet owners can do to make sure their pets get through hot summer days unscathed. From the basics, like providing plenty of fresh clean water and ample shade, to water activities and even some super cool pet-cocktail recipes to keep them hydrated in a fun way too!

Here are five red-hot dangers, along with tips to help you keep your beloved animal safe and happy during the summer months.

Doggo Dehydration
Water is essential to ensure your dog’s body operates optimally. The combination of hot weather and a lack of shade – or hot weather and a walk (even a short one) – can turn a happy dog into a parched pooch. 
 

Signs of doggo dehydration

  • Dry gums 
  • Excessive panting/drooling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tiredness
  • Reduced skin elasticity (to work out if your dog has reduced skin elasticity, lightly pinch your dog’s skin. If it remains ‘pinched’, they might be dehydrated. Note: this doesn’t work so well for older dogs as like us, their skin loses its springiness as they age!)
 

What to do

There are plenty of things you can do at home, on walks or when you’re on holiday trips to keep your best mate adequately hydrated.
 
At home, ensure they have: 
 
  1. A constant supply of water – Is their bowl big enough to last a full day when you’re work?
  2. A shady spot – one that remains in the shade all day
 
On walks and day/holiday car trips, take: 
 
  1. Extra water and a collapsible bowl, or plastic container
  2. Extra precautions (i.e. medication) if you have a car-sick pooch. Vomiting in hot weather can quickly lead to doggie dehydration 
Heat Stroke
If you’re out walking with your furry friend in hot weather, keep a close eye on them especially if they seem to be panting and/or drooling excessively, or refuse to walk further. Should this happen, they may be overheating. Left unchecked, this can quickly lead to an even more sinister condition – heatstroke. 
 
Dog heatstroke occurs when they can no longer regulate their body temperature. It’s a really serious condition that can cause organ failure, seizures, brain damage and even death. Once your dog reaches this stage, quick medical attention is a must.
 
Dogs most at risk of heatstroke are puppies, big, furry or brachycephalic breeds, and overweight pooches. But it’s worth noting any dog is susceptible in hot weather.
 
Serious symptoms of dog heatstroke
 
  • Very heavy panting
  • Thick saliva 
  • Limb weakness 
  • Collapsing
  • Losing consciousness
  • Confusion
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
 
What to do
 
If your dog shows signs of overheating (excessive panting, slowly down and/or refusing to walk further):
  1. Get them out of the sun
  2. Offer them water
  3. Use a damp towel or cool water to wet their body 
If they don’t seem to be recovering and/or exhibit any of the more serious symptoms above, get them to the vet ASAP.
As with most things in life, prevention is always best. Follow these tips to help your best friend avoid heatstroke:
  1. Don’t leave them out in high temperatures – if you can’t, ensure they have proper shade
  2. Keep them hydrated with access to water at all times
  3. Be smart about when you take them for walkies – aim for coolest part of the day
  4. Watch them carefully when walking for signs of heat stress
  5. Never leave them in hot cars, even for a minute – a cracked window or parking in the shade does very little to reduce internal car temperature
Sunburn
Doggos can get sunburnt just like we do, particularly if they are pale-coloured or have thin hair. Their noses, ears and belly are particularly susceptible.
 
What to do
 
You can use sunscreen but it must be safe to ingest as it’s likely your dog will try to lick it off! There are specific dog sunscreens on the market for this purpose.
 
If you think your pooch has a case of sunburn, seek vet advice. 
Paw Burns
It’s easy to think your pooch’s paws are pretty tough, but they are actually very sensitive. Walking on hot pavements or sand can easily cause scorched paws. The general rule of thumb is: if it’s too hot for your bare feet, then it’s too hot for your dog’s paws. 
 
What to do
 
  • Avoid going for walks in hot weather – wait for a cooler time, i.e. evenings 
  • Slip your shoes off and test the ground temperature
  • Take note of changes in terrain – it may mean a temperature shift
  • Walk in the shade
  • Carry your dog across hot sections if need be
Stings and Bites
Camping trips, swims at the beach or walks in the bush means your pet is exposed to a range of insects and other animals … and their bites (think snakes, spiders, ticks, fleas and even, jellyfish).  
 
What to do
 
  • Think carefully about where let your dog walk or swim to avoid accidental bites or stings
  • Watch your pooch when they go exploring (i.e. sticking their nose in a dark hole!)
  • Ensure your pet is fully protected with up-to-date vaccinations, parasite & tick control
  • If bitten, seek vet treatment

Other heat tips

  • Give them a summer haircut (but leave enough to prevent sunburnt skin)
  • Don’t muzzle dogs in hot weather (they can’t pant effectively which helps them cool down)
  • Let them have a run in the sprinkler (the bonus – the kids can join in too!)