Keeping pets cool in hot weather
When the temperature soars, take steps to protect your furry best friend.
Never leave dogs in the car.
Not even if you think you’ll only be a few minutes. Even when it isn't so hot outside, temperatures can soar inside a closed car.
On a 25 degree day, interior car temperatures can reach over 40 degrees Celsius in just 10 minutes... and that's with a window slightly open!
After 30 minutes, the car could be over 70 degrees. So leave your dog at home, or go places where they can come with you.
If a pet is trapped in a hot car
First, check to see if any doors are unlocked. Call triple zero (000) or NRMA (13 11 11) who may assist in emergency circumstances.
You do not need to be an NRMA member to request this emergency assistance.
Keep your house cool.
If your pets are home alone, make sure they can truly chill. Leave the air conditioner on and close the drapes. If you don't have AC, open the windows and turn on a fan. You may also want to try a cooling vest or mat.
Watch when you exercise.
Limit when and how much you do when it's hot and humid. Take walks in the cooler part of the day, in the early morning and evening hours. Carry water, too - enough for both of you.
Check the pavement.
Before you head out for a walk, touch the pavement. If it's too hot for your hand, it's too hot for your dog's paw pads. Walk on the grass and stay off the concrete path or roadway.
Offer plenty of water and shade.
If your pets are outside, make sure they have shade and lots of fresh, cool water. Add ice cubes to their water when you can. Trees are better than kennels for shade - they let air flow through whereas kennels can trap the heat.
Consider a kiddie pool or a sprinkler to help your dog cool off in the yard.
Always check sheds and greenhouses before shutting doors - cats can find their way inside and become trapped if they are looking for a shady spot to cool down.
Make cool treats. Pupsicles!
Frozen treats in a treat dispenser, Kong toy or even cupcake trays are a great way to cool down your dog ...and keep them occupied!
Keep an eye on the humidity.
When the air is full of moisture, your pet may not be able to pant enough to cool themselves off. As their body temperature rises they become susceptible to heatstroke. Stay inside, and limit exercise, too.
Take care of at-risk pets.
Be watchful if you have a snub-nosed/brachycephalic breed like a pug or bulldog. Their smaller airways make it harder for them to release heat when they pant. It's also easy for old and overweight dogs, or those with heart and breathing problems to get heatstroke.
Groom your pet.
If your pet has long hair, get rid of any mats and tangles. It will help keep them cool. Don't shave or clip their coat before you talk to your vet or groomer. Particularly for double-coated breeds, the extra fur that keeps them warm in winter may also keep them cool in summer!
Watch for signs of overheating.
Your pet can't tell you when they don't feel well, so keep an eye out for heatstroke. Symptoms may include heavy panting, heavy drooling, trouble breathing, rapid heartbeat, dark or red gums and tongue, dizziness, weakness, agitation.
Guinea pigs are very susceptible to heat stress.
You should ensure that your guinea pig’s hutch remains shaded the entire day. A good supply of drinking water should be available. Place an ice brick wrapped in a tea towel in their pen.
Fish get hot too!
Did you know that in warm weather your fish can get hot too? Remember to watch your fish for signs of distress. This could be if they are gasping for breath or if they seem paler in colour.
For tropical fish you may want to turn off the water heater and monitor the temperature closely to keep its ideal level. You can cool your fish tank by having a fan blow across the surface. For tropical fish anything over 30 degrees Celsius is too hot. For goldfish the water temperature shouldn’t be higher than about 28 degrees.
If a fan doesn’t cool the water temperature you can freeze some water in a container or bag and place it in the tank or near the filter area. Remember to gradually change your water temperature so you don’t shock your fish.
Birds can feel the heat as well.
Make sure their cages are in the shade with good ventilation. Outside aviaries should offer decent shade. Smaller cages should be brought inside during extremely hot weather. A sprinkler on a metal-roofed aviary will help to keep it cool. Make sure your feathered friends also have a good supply of fresh water.