Keep your pets safe on a hot summers day
- by DR Roxanne Jones
As South Africans, we are known for our love of being outdoors, enjoying the beautiful weather that our country has to offer. This summer has been one of the hottest in recorded history and we want you and your fur kids to be able to make the most of it whilst keeping safe. If you are feeling hot and parched on a summer’s day, imagine how it must feel with a layer of fur! It’s important to keep your pets cool and hydrated so that they don’t succumb to dehydration or heatstroke.
To keep your fur friend well hydrated, provide plenty of water by leaving many water bowls around your home and garden and remove any unsafe or unsanitary water so that they only drink clean water. Remember to keep the water bowls in a shaded area so that it doesn’t evaporate too quickly. You can also cool the water by placing ice blocks in the bowls. Senior pets are at a higher risk to dehydration so you may need to encourage and remind them to drink water by bringing the bowl to them.
Dehydration is the body’s inability to replace lost fluids comprised of electrolytes and water. If you notice the early symptoms such as dry mouth, sunken eyes and loss of elasticity in skin, take your pet straight to the vet because severe dehydration can lead to organ failure and death.
When your fur friend’s core body temperatures rise excessively, it can result in heatstroke. Symptoms usually start with heavy panting, fatigue, vomiting and diarrhoea and you should take your pet straight to the vet if you see any of these. Heatstroke can lead to seizures, organ failure and death. Flat faced dogs (brachycephalic dogs) like the English bulldog are especially prone to heatstroke so make sure that you take extra care to protect them.
You should provide plenty of shade outside so that they can keep cool and don’t have to lie in the sun. Allow your precious pooch a swim in a pool or hose them down with a gentle spray of water from a hosepipe. Cats may not be too fond of this option so rather wipe them down gently with a wet towel. If your beloved pets are indoors, keep the windows open and use a fan inside to circulate the air. If you have an air conditioner inside your home, you can use that instead of the fan. You could also try using ice bricks under their bed to keep it cool. Only use the ice bricks enclosed with solid plastic, not the gel packs as their claws may tear the plastic and the gel could be toxic.
It’s also a good idea to freeze your fur friend’s chew toys as a cool toy for them to play with. Refrigerate or freeze their wet food as a frosty treat or freeze pieces of food such as chicken in a cube of water as an ice cube treat. Some dogs even enjoy licking and chewing on a regular water ice block or chicken or beef broth ice blocks.
Don’t encourage play or exercise your pets during hot weather, rather exercise and play with your fur friends in the early mornings or late evenings when the temperature outside is still cool. You may want to consider trimming your pet’s fur if it’s long, but if they have light coloured skin then you will need to use sun block to protect them from sunburn or try to keep them indoors, away from the sun. Never, ever, leave your pet in a car! Even if the window is left open, the temperature in a car can rise quickly and become extremely dangerous.