Updated: Sep 27, 2019
The rising temperatures signal the fun summer months of braai's, vacations and more time spent outside. But, the hot summer days can also present unique hazards for your dog.
Keep Cool With Water & Treats
Plan ahead on hot days and having cool, fun food on hand. In addition to making sure dogs are drinking plenty of water, frozen treats (store bought or homemade) are great to have available on hot days. Try this simple recipe for electrolyte ice cubs: Dissolve 1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon sugar in 4 cups of water (using pure coconut water with no sugar/ artificial sweetener added), and then freeze in ice cube trays, muffin tins, etc. If you do not have a pool at home, consider buying a large plastic or metal bucket, or small kiddies pool for your pet/s to be able to use. You could also fill a water bottle with water, freeze it and then take it out for your pet to use, lick or lie on when it’s hot.
Protect The Paws Place the back of your hand on the pavement, if you cannot hold it there for ten seconds, it’s too hot to walk your dog. It’s a simple way for us to easily identify if the pavement is too hot for our dogs paws and an important reminder for pet owners who simply don’t think about how the hot pavement can impact their dogs. Forgoing paved areas for grassy spots for the dog to walk and play is advisable, and also to avoid peak sun hours. Try not to walk dogs during the hottest part of the day: if possible, complete most walks before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m.
Recognising The Signs Of Heat Stroke Signs of heat stress in pets could include trouble breathing, excessive panting, increased heart rate, weakness or collapsing. A dog suffering a heatstroke may also exhibit increased salivation, a bright red tongue, red or pale gums, vomiting or diarrhea. As heatstroke progresses, seizures, coma, cardiac arrest and, ultimately, death may occur. Remove the dog from the hot area and contact the veterinarian immediately if you suspect the dog is suffering from heat exhaustion. Always have the veterinarian’s information and a cell phone handy should you need to contact the vet in the case of an emergency. While transporting the dog to the vet, place cool, wet towels on the back of the dog’s neck, paws, belly and groin area to help lower body temperature.
Avoid The Burn Don’t forget, your pets have delicate skin. Did you know skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in dogs and the second-most common form in cats? Even though fur provides some protection, you should apply sunscreen to your pet’s least hair-covered spots. Especially on white pets or pets with white colouring in sensitive areas. If a dog is out during peak sun exposure hours, reapply sunscreen to sun-sensitive areas of the body: the nose, around the lips, tips of the ears, groin and belly, throughout the day. There are sunscreens made specifically for pets and any sunscreen you use should not contain fragrance, Zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA). Sunscreen created specifically for canine use is the safest and most effective, but if you don’t have pet sunscreen, look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen for babies and children with an SPF of 15 or higher — but read the label. If your pet does get sunburn, applying pure aloe can help soothe irritation, but be sure to check with your veterinarian first to ensure the brand you have is safe for pets.
Never Leave A Pet In A Vehicle Hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion each year because they are left in parked vehicles. Even with the windows cracked or the air conditioner running, temperatures can rise quickly in a vehicle and put pets at risk of serious illness, or worse, death. Keep in mind that outside temperatures do not have to be extreme for cars to become dangerously hot for pets. With an outside temperature of just 22°C a car can have an inside temperature of up to 46°C within an hour, and on a 26°C degree day, a car can heat up to 37°C within 10 minutes. Should you see any pet left alone in a hot car, write down the make, model and license plate number of the car and, if possible, ask managers or security guards of nearby businesses to make an announcement to find the owner. If you can’t find the owner, call the local police or SPCA and wait for them to arrive.
Monitor Indoor Temperatures Too
While it’s important to not have pets outside in the heat of the day, hot weather means inside temperatures can be more difficult to regulate as well. Understand high temperatures inside can be dangerous to pets also. A good rule of thumb is if it’s too warm for you, it’s also too warm for your pets. Allow well ventilated areas for you pet to try keep cool in and don’t have vigorous play time to try expel excess energy if you can’t take your dog for a walk.
Never Shave A Double Coated Dog Some dogs have dual coats (Huskies, German Shepherds etc) which is not to be confused with dogs that have long coats (Maltese, Yorkies etc). Dogs with dual coats SHOULD NOT BE COMPETELY SHAVED! Their second coat mostly protects them not only form the cold, but also from the heat. They have sensitive skin and, if shaved, will often cause sun burn which could lead to skin cancer. It is best to have shady areas available for them to keep cool, and minimal play time or exercise. If you absolutely feel you need to shave your double coated dog, please only do so on their stomachs. The cool air on their stomach should help temperature control, they are less likely to get sun burnt and, if a sudden cold day comes along, they can curl into a ball, covering their stomach, and be warm.
Disclaimer: We have compiled our information from various different sources and we claim no rights to any of the information obtained herein.