Hot Weather Tips to Keep Pets Healthy & Cool

Veterinary help should be sought ASAP if heat stroke is suspected. Heat stress is an emergency. Given the seriousness of this condition, it is better to be safe than sorry and have the dog checked out by a vet.

How should you treat a pet with heatstroke?

Initial emergency treatment at home should aim to normalise body temperature. Apply or spray tepid/cool water onto the animal’s fur/skin followed by fanning of the wet fur. Don't use ice-cold water or ice as this may exacerbate the problem.

Vehicles heat quickly in the sun, and animals left in them can succumb to heat stroke in a very short time. Heatstroke is life threatening for both dogs and cats. Signs to watch for are: heavy, loud breathing, a staggering gait, and a bright red tongue or gum tissue. If heat stroke is suspected, get the animal to a cool place, put cold compresses on their belly, or wet them down. This is a medical emergency—seek veterinary advice as quickly as possible.
Do not exercise animals in hot, humid conditions. On hot days try to walk your dog very early in the morning or very late in the afternoon and avoid the hottest part of the day.

Dogs and cats need a cool, shady place to sleep during hot weather, as well as plenty of clean, fresh water, accessible at all times. Feed your dog or cat in the cooler hours of the day. Older animals have a hard time in hot weather, so be extra sensitive to their needs during the hot - test hours of the day.

Small animals including rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, birds, rats and mice are highly susceptible to heat stress (which can be fatal). These animals are often confined in cages and hutches and are unable to move away to cooler places. Owners need to move these animals into a cool, shaded and well-ventilated area in hot weather. They also require clean, fresh drinking water at all times. On very hot days you may need to bring them into a cool place indoors, for example the laundry.

Be sure that your pet’s vaccinations are up to date. Parvo virus, an illness that flourishes in hot weather, can be fatal to dogs that have not received their vaccinations.
Owners need to be aware of sunburn especially in pets with white, non-pigmented skin and a white-coloured coat.
Keep your pet well-groomed. Daily brushing or combing lets you check for fleas. Fleas can cause allergic reactions and ““hot spots” in dogs. Hot spots are large, wet lesions that appear suddenly in areas where the dog has scratched. See your veterinarian for flea preventives or if a “hot spot” appears.
Play with your pet instead of stroking them to fend off firework fears. Playing a game with your pet when they shows early signs of anxiety, like pacing or trembling, can distract them from the stressor and, in the long term, teach them to associate that same stressor with positive things such as play and treats. Patting is likely to make no difference—and, in fact, it may reinforce the attention-seeking that comes with nervousness.
Keep dogs away from picnic garbage. Ingesting corncobs and chicken and other bones can be life-threatening. The stems, leaves, and seeds of apples, cherries, peaches, and apricots contain cyanogenic glycosides that can cause vomiting and loss of appetite when eaten in large amounts. In severe cases, weakness, difficulty breathing, hyperventilation, shock, and even death can occur.
If you have a swimming pool, do not leave your dog unattended in the pool area. Not all dogs can swim—they can drown if they fall into the water.