As summer starts to heat up, it’s a good time to remember some important ways we can look after our furry friends in the warmer months. Dehydration and heatstroke pose serious risks to pets and wildlife, but there are some simple ways to make sure animals are safe over summer.
Protect those paws!
As temperatures climb, footpaths and pavements can heat up to the point of causing injury to the sensitive pads of your dog’s feet. Try and walk your dog in the early morning or late evening to avoid the hottest parts of the day – this will help avoid both dehydration and heat stroke, and also means the paths are likely to be cooler.
If in doubt, apply the Five Second Rule – place the back of your hand against the pavement for five seconds, and if it’s too hot for you, it’s likely to be too hot for your pet.
This rule applies to dogs travelling in the back of utes as well – ute trays are generally made from metal, which can heat up considerably in the sun. Make sure the surface your dog will be resting on is cool enough for their paws before letting them ride with you. Be particularly conscious of the movement of the sun and changing shade conditions. Consider installing some shade and rubber matting on the back of your ute tray to make it more comfortable for your furry friend.
A hot car is no place for a dog
Never leave your dog (or any pet) in your car unattended. Even with the windows down, and parked in a shady area, cars can heat up significantly on a hot day – one study found that if the temperature is 22 degrees outside, a car can heat up to 47 degrees in just an hour.
It can take just six minutes for a dog to die in a hot car – so don’t risk it. And if you see a distressed dog alone in a car, call the police as soon as you can.
Have a pug or a bulldog? This one’s for you.
All dogs can suffer from extreme heat, but the risk is greater for some breeds, such as pugs, British Bulldogs and French Bulldogs, who all belong to the category of brachycephalic (flat-faced) dogs.
These breeds have exaggerated features, including very short muzzles that make it hard for them to breathe. This means they also struggle to cool themselves down in hot weather, because dogs lose heat through panting instead of sweating.
In fact, brachycephalic breeds are 14 per cent more likely to suffer heat stroke than other dog breeds, and can quickly become unwell, even in fairly moderate weather.
Watch out for heat stress
Make sure to keep a close eye on your pet during summer for signs of heat stress or heatstroke. The flat-faced breeds mentioned above, as well as very young or older animals, can become very ill, very quickly.
Signs of heat stress include heavy panting, difficulty breathing, fatigue, drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea and even seizures. If your dog shows any of these signs, get them to a cool location and call your vet urgently.
It’s best to keep your dog inside during hot days, with access to plenty of water and air conditioning if available.
Water your local wildlife
With the current dry conditions sweeping across the country, Australian wildlife are likely to be affected as the temperatures rise this summer, especially when it comes to access to water. You can help by leaving out bowls of fresh, clean water where local wildlife can drink undisturbed and protected.
Shallow dishes are better for smaller animals, but if you want to use a larger container, just make sure you place a rock or stick next to it so small creatures can climb out easily. If you’re concerned about a wild animal that appears to be suffering from heat stress, you can call Wildlife Rescue on 1300 596 457.
- The RSPCA relies on donations from the public to protect and care for animals.