Hot summer days might be the stuff of postcards, but they can be hard on animals. And fur babies can’t just grab an icy cold drink, a pair of sunnies and head off for a swim on their own. So, over to you! Here’s how to keep pets safe in summer.
Most people love summer. Long sunny days, balmy nights and plenty of fun in the great outdoors. But summer also comes with its challenges, and staying cool is just one of them.
Pets feel the summer heat just like we do, sometimes even more so. Given they rely on us to take care of them, it’s important to know how their needs change in the warmer months.
14 ways to keep pets safe in summer
Our beloved pets can have a hard time in the blistering heat of summer. Too many dogs, cats and other critters present to vets in the warmer months with easily avoidable, heat-related injuries and illness.
Here are 14 thirst-quenching tips on how to keep your pets safe and cool in summer.
1. Adequate shade
Your pet should have access to solid shade for the entirety of the day, so they can escape the heat when they choose to. Be mindful of pet runs and cages that end up in the sun (or on the edge of its path) for part of the day as the sun moves. It doesn’t take long for an animal to overheat, especially smaller species like birds and rabbits.
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2. Multiple sources of water
Giving daily access to fresh water is important year-round, but especially so on hot days. Having multiple sources of fresh, cool water means that if one source gets spilled, there’s still water available.
Consider investing in an automatic refilling water bowl, which connects to your outdoor tap so it stays full all the time.
3. Don’t exercise dogs in the heat
On warmer days, avoid walking or playing with pets in the middle of the day. Opt for early morning or late in the evening instead, and always check the surface temperature of the road or path first. If it’d hurt your bare feet, it’ll hurt theirs.
Walk dogs on grass instead of hard surfaces and be aware of how hot sand can get. And if it’s over 30-degrees Celsius, don’t walk your dog at all. They are better off skipping a day’s exercise or simply running around in the shady backyard than facing extreme heat and exposure.
4. Bring pets inside on very hot days
When it’s stinking hot outside, chances are you’ll want to be inside away from the sun, ideally with the air conditioner on. Your pet will benefit greatly from this, too.
If your critter isn’t house trained, consider confining them in a well-ventilated cool spot like the laundry or bathroom, where they can spread out on cool tiles. Alternatively, put them in a crate or pen in the coolest part of the house. Turn the air conditioner on for them, even if you’re not home… after all, they deserve the same as the rest of the family, right?
5. Fans don’t work on pets
The reason fans cool human beings is because we sweat, and the movement of air feels cool on our damp skin. Dogs, cats and other pets do not sweat, therefore fans do nothing to help them stay cool.
Simply put, do not rely on a fan to cool your pet.
6. Use ice cubes and ice packs
In summer, ice is a friend to your pet! Place ice cubes in their water bowl for a cool drink.
An ice pack wrapped in a tea towel placed in an animal’s bed is an effective way to help them stay cool. Until it melts, of course. This technique is great for dogs, cats and rabbits, among others.
7. Wet them down
As mentioned, pets don’t sweat so can’t cool their skin in the same way we humans can. Wetting them down helps to keep them cool, especially their feet, neck and tummy.
For dogs and cats who like water (yes, some cats do!), consider investing in a kids’ clam shell-style wading pool. Place it in the shade in the yard so they can splash around as they please. Ensure small breeds can exit the shell on their own before leaving them unsupervised, and never leave kids unsupervised around water.
Be sure to tip out the water before evening, so other animals don’t fall in and drown.
8. Dog cooling mats and vests
Cooling mats are filled with a special gel that cools your dog’s and cat’s skin when they lay on it. Good quality pet cooling mats are made from heavy duty material so their claws can’t tear them.
Dog cooling vests are another option and may even be the height of canine summer fashion. Fresh in more ways than one, they’re made from a special fabric that’s cool to touch when wet.
9. Keep up to date with flea and tick treatments
Those pesky fleas and ticks, both common in Australia, are more active in the warmer months. So, it’s important to keep pets up to date with their treatments. Set a reminder in your phone when treatments are due so you don’t forget.
10. Sunscreen for pets
Dogs and cats with white fur or limited fur on their noses and ears are susceptible to sunburn, which can lead to skin cancer. This is another great reason to ensure they’re out of the sun during the middle of the day.
It’s also a good idea to invest in a specialty pet sunscreen to protect them in the warmer months when the sun is at its strongest.
11. Don’t leave pets in hot cars
A pet can die in a hot car in a matter of minutes. Never, ever leave an animal in a parked car in warm weather – or any weather in fact – even if it doesn’t seem that hot outside. Temperatures can climb very quickly in a car, especially when parked in the sun. This is one of the golden rules to keep pets safe in summer.
Similarly, be careful transporting dogs on ute trays in summer because the tray surface can get very hot and burn their feet.
12. Pet safety during thunderstorms and fireworks
Warmer weather can mean more thunderstorms, and more human revelry that involves fireworks. Many dogs, cats and other pets are phobic of both and can seriously injure themselves while in a panicked state during these events.
We have tips for pet safety during fireworks here. These include restraining them in a quiet part of the house (which can comfort some pets and prevent them from injuring themselves), if using a crate ensuring it’s a plastic airline-style crate (so they can’t get their limbs stuck in wire), and making sure they have access to water.
Sadly, sometimes pets go missing in thunderstorms. If that happens to you, find out what to do here.
13. Pet and livestock safety during bushfires
If you live in an area at risk of bushfires (and floods, for that matter), have a plan in place for the protection of your pets and livestock should fire approach.
Get domestic pets off the property and to safety as early as possible. Move larger animals to safety if possible, planning transport and more than one escape route well ahead of time. If you cannot move livestock, ensure they have access to an open space with short grass and a water source where they can retreat if a fire approaches.
For more tips on protecting animals during emergencies, click here.
14. Put water out for wildlife
As an animal lover, you can help to keep our native wildlife safe during summer, too. It’s as simple as leaving out water for them, either in your yard or in nearby bushland. Place a shallow tub of water on the ground where it can be accessed by reptiles, birds and mammals alike.
Learn what to do if you find sick or injured wildlife here.
Protecting pets in summer and beyond
Our pets really are completely reliant on us for their safety and protection. That’s why it’s so important to adapt your pet parenting techniques for summer. And part of being a fabulous pet parent is making sure you and your pet are covered should they become injured or sick.
At PD Insurance, we love pets (and summer!) as much as you do. That’s why we provide affordable pet insurance plans to suit a range of budgets. Start your quote here.
Over to you
How do you keep your pets safe in summer? Any tips you’d like to share below? Feel free to add your comments.