Animal care is a must during summer months. Thirst, sunburn and biting bugs are just a few things that irritate us in summer – and they also affect our pets. Most causes of animal health problems in the hotter months are preventable. Follow these steps to protect your best friend.
Heat stress is caused by prolonged exposure to the sun or over-heating. Beat the heat and avoid the hottest part of the day by going for pet walking or dog walking in the early morning or evening. You’ll find that dogs and horses enjoy these cooler times, as well as a paddle in the local creek or river. Paws can become painful after walking on hot concrete and tarred roads, and a refreshing dip may ease any discomfort.
Hot cars are a known source of poor animal health during summer. Never leave your pets in a car on a hot day, even with a window open.
Shade your pets as a part of your pet care effort! While more independent animals like cats and dogs can seek out their own shady spots, smaller animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs and birds should have their cages or enclosures placed out of direct sunlight.
While fresh water is vital for your pets during all weathers, providing an extra bowl of cool water is helpful in summer. There’s no harm in serving your pets “water on the rocks”, especially when the ice cubes are bound to melt quicker in the heat.
If you’re not within walking distance of a river or creek, you may consider filling a child-size swimming pool with water for your dog. This is especially useful if you have a pet for kids. If your kids also love the idea of a wading pool, always ensure that it’s safety first: place the pool in a safe, fenced area, and children must be supervised at all times. In short, you need to keep a watchful eye when working with animals along with your kids.
Inside or outside? In the hottest months, don’t hesitate to bring your animals inside. For smaller animals, such as rabbits, guinea pigs and ferrets, inside works best during hot, dry weather. Vulnerable kittens and puppies will also benefit from an indoor haven from the heat. A cool, tiled laundry is a great spot for small animals.
If you simply have no space indoors, combat the heat with some frozen water bottles placed in your animal’s enclosure. This works particularly well for rabbits and guinea pigs. Draping a cage with damp towels is another option, but ensure you don’t give your pet an unwanted shower, as birds especially can go into shock if their feathers are overly saturated.
A final tip for cooling your animals is to dampen their feet. With a spray bottle, try misting water on the animal’s feet and face. It’s a good option for dogs, cats, ferrets, poultry and caged birds as these animals can regulate their body temperature through their feet.
Preventing skin cancer is vital for us and our pets, and the best barrier is sunscreen. Most vets sell a range of sunscreen for animals, especially animals with pale skin or fur. Summer means mosquito bites for people and pets alike. Yet bites from ticks and fleas are a huge risk to animals. They can cause severe diseases in pets, as well as chronic dermatitis. Keep your pet’s flea and tick treatment up to date so that they remain immune to infestation all summer. For advice on flea and tick treatment, contact your local vet or the RSPCA.