Keeping pets cool in summer

by Andy Bryenton

It can be difficult to cope with the heat when summer really kicks it into high gear — and that’s just for us humans. Imagine what it’s like to feel the full blast of the sun when you’re born with a full time fur coat! Here are some top tips from vets to help keep your pets cool and happy this time of year.

Of course, water, shade and a bit of change to the usual routines are the key. Lots of drinking water is essential for all animals, but dogs and even cats can be seen literally panting in the heat, using up moisture in the same way we would do by sweating in order to keep cool.

Fresh, clean water in bowls all around the property are a must, and will likely benefit wildlife as well. Don’t forget special pet sunscreen for white nosed dogs and cats! Dogs may want to have a dip this time of year, so a plastic clamshell toddler’s pool could prove an asset. With a bit of shallow water it can be a drinking source and a cool bath if placed in the shade. Speaking of shade, this is no season to leave any animals outdoors with none available. Even ‘outside dogs’ need a cool spot this time of year, and caged birds, bunnies in hutches, etc should be moved out of the midday sun.

When walking dogs this time of year, try to head out early or late. The sheer force of the sun can make beach sand and footpaths, let alone asphalt and tar road crossings painful and dangerous. 

Burned paws are a serious injury and can become infected, and humans wearing shoes can’t easily judge the heat of a surface. Also on the subject of feet, did you know that many animals and even birds regulate their temperature through their feet? If the mercury rises into the low 30s, a mist of water or a dip just for the paws of your dog or cat could do the trick. Even kitties who hate water will feel some relief. Chicken owners are advised to lay out a shallow pan of water for their chooks to walk through, but set it out in the shade so it doesn’t become heated by the sun.

Finally, a treat for cats and dogs. Push cling film into an ice cube tray and spoon in jellymeat or soft food. Let it chill and turn out the resultant ‘ice pops’ as a cool surprise which will be enjoyed on a hot day.