Ways to Keep Pets Cool & Prevent Overheating

Summer is only 1 week away and the temperatures and humidity are rising!

As you know it’s incredibly important to look out for pets during this time as overheating can cause heatstroke, which can in turn, lead to organ failure and even death.

Some pets are particularly susceptible like the elderly, overweight or those suffering from a medical condition.

Dogs Cooling occurs through Panting

Did you know dogs don’t sweat?  They cool themselves through panting (evaporative cooling from the lungs and mouth), lying on a cool surface and drinking cool water.  

Brachycephalic (flat face) breeds, like pugs, boxers, bull dogs, terriers and cavalier king charles spaniels, are more likely to suffer from heat stress.  This is because they have shortened airways which reduces the effectiveness of panting.

6 Ways to Keep your Pet Cool!

Here are 6 ways to keep your pet cool –

  1. Water – ensure your pet’s water bowl is checked regularly and they always have access to clean, fresh water.  Leave a few bowls out if you will be gone for longer periods, or look at other water bowls options that are on the market, such as automatic watering systems or those with clamps or attachments so they can’t be knocked over.

2. Shade – ensure they have plenty of access to shade throughout the day.  If using a kennel make sure there is ventilation.  If possible, allow pets inside at least for the hotter parts of the day.

3. Sleep – Dogs normally seek out the coolest part of the house or yard, but place beds or mats in shady/cooler areas.  You can dampen blankets of mats with water or use cooling mats or jackets for dogs.

4. Water Play – On a hot day, give your pet a bath with lukewarm water.that will instantly cool them down. Or let them have a swim in your backyard pool or head to the beach to cool off!

5. Exercise –  It’s important to keep their regular exercise routine, however be mindful to take them earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon.  Allow them to walk on the grass if possible to avoid burns to their paw pads, apply sunscreen and take a water bottle/bowl if you won’t be going past any water fountains. 

6. Frozen Treats Make some frozen treats to cool your dog down and keep them entertained!  Try a few different recipes to see what your dog loves best and freeze in a kong, cupcake liner or ice cube tray.

Symptoms of Heat Stress

It is really important to know what the symptoms of heat stress look like so you can get onto the issue immediately.  Symptoms can include – 

  • Panting
  • Seeking a cool/shady spot
  • Excessive salivation
  • Enlarging tongue
  • Red gums/lips
  • Increasing heart rate
  • Anxious or distressed demeanour
  • Staggering

If a high temperature is not relieved your fur baby’s condition could quickly worsen. They may start to display more severe symptoms of heat stress which include:

  • Very rapid heart rate
  • Circulation shutdown
  • Trembling/seizures/falling down
  • Respiratory distress
  • Vomit with blood
  • Diarrhoea with blood
  • Coma

Prompt Action is Essential

In order to get a positive outcome, prompt action is essential.  

First aid measures should be applied and then the pet transported to a veterinarian. Never transport an animal while they are still hot. Cooling them down first is essential. 

Bathing the animal in cool (not cold) water, or apply ice packs to the groin and underarm area.  Alternatively place them in front of a fan or in an air conditioned room. Offer them cool, fresh water to bring their temperature down. Once the animal is cool, always take them to the vet as they may have internal damage from the heat stress.

Wildlife Suffering from Summer Heat

Our harsh Australian climate also affects our wildlife! If you see a wild animal that is confused or disoriented please try to give them water and contact your local wildlife rescue and follow their instructions.  If you often get wild visitors into your yard, why not leave a shallow bowl of fresh water out for them each day.

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