Summer pet tips_hero

Top tips to protect your pets during a long hot summer

Thursday , 16 December 2021 by Andrew Drever

With weather forecasters predicting a long hot summer, Southern Cross Pet Insurance (SCPI) is reminding pet owners of the key watch-outs to ensure we keep our furry family members cool and healthy.

SCPI’s Sales Manager and former veterinary nurse, Kerri Murray, says pets need an extra level of attention during the hot weather, as they suffer from the same things we do, such as dehydration, sunburn and digestion issues caused by overindulging on the wrong types of food.

“While we’re all looking forward to the summer break and including our pets in our holiday fun, it’s important we remember to keep them safe and keep a close eye on their wellbeing,” Murray said.

Murray says that dogs in particular are at risk of heatstroke and burnt paws, and should never be exercised when the sun is at its hottest.

“During the hottest months, exercise should only really be undertaken before 9am or in the evening,” she said. “Dogs can’t cope with the heat and this can lead to dehydration. Also, take care when you’re walking your pets on tarseal, footpaths or sand, which can burn their paws. Walking your dogs on the grass is best.”

To avoid dehydration in the summer months owners should make sure pets have cool shady spots to sit in when outside and are given lots of fresh, cold water. Signs of dehydration in dogs include sunken eyes, dry gums and lethargy, and, in worst cases, they can collapse.

Emma Pearson, from Huntly, had to take her Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Kahu, to the vet after she suffered heat stroke last summer, despite doing the right thing and exercising her early in the morning.

“We went to the park, and Kahu chased a ball around for a bit, but then stopped as she became breathless - rasping and started struggling to walk,” she said. “Her body temperature was about 39.5 degrees when we took her in to the vet and she had to go on the IV drips to get her fluids back up.

“The vet informed me that Kahu likely hadn’t drunk enough water the day before. She had spent the day before lying in the sun all day, so was already dehydrated in the morning. This summer, we put a kiddie paddling pool in the backyard and built a shade box for her, so she always has somewhere with shade.”

SCPI’s top tips to keep pets safe over summer:

Workouts at the start or end of the day

During the hottest months, exercising your pets should only really be undertaken in the morning, before 9am, or in the evening.

Pets get sunburnt too

A little-known fact is that – just like us - cats and dogs need sunscreen to protect them from skin cancer. Human sunscreen is toxic to pets though, so please use a sunscreen that’s specifically made for animals. You should apply a pet sunscreen every three to four hours to their least hair-covered spots – such as noses and bellies on dogs, and ears on cats.

Watch the temperature of surfaces

Take care when you’re walking your pets on hot roads, footpaths, or sand, which can easily burn their paws. If it’s too hot for the back of your hand, it’s too hot for your pet.

Pets in hot cars

A common mistake many owners make is leaving pets in a parked car. Temperatures inside a vehicle can rise quickly to dangerous levels, causing organ damage, and even death, to your pet. Leaving the windows down makes little to no difference unfortunately. Instead of taking your dog to the supermarket, it’s best to just leave them at home.

Keep their liquids up

Pets are at risk of dehydration during summer months. Make sure they always have plenty of water to drink, whether at home, exercising or out and about. Also look for the signs of dehydration in dogs too: sunken eyes, dry gums and lethargy.

Throw them some shade

Make sure your pets have access to some cool shady spots outside throughout the day and no matter where the sun is, and that they have lots of fresh, cold water.

Cats and the dangers of lilies

Fresh flowers look beautiful in our home and lilies can be a lovely centrepiece of a flower arrangement. But lilies and their pollen can be toxic and even fatal to our feline friends if they ingest them or the water the lilies have been in, or even if they brush against them and then groom their coat. Members of the lilium and hermerocallis genera are the most dangerous, including Easter lilies, Christmas lilies, tiger lilies and day lilies. However, Belladonna lilies, canna lilies or lily of the valley aren’t toxic to cats. Pet owners should be mindful of where lilies are delivered, displayed and disposed of.

Water safety

If you’re taking your dog to the beach or onto a boat, make sure they have a brightly coloured life vest to keep them safe and visible if they get into trouble in water. Dogs playing in the surf can also get swept away by currents and riptides.

Beware of the BBQ

Don’t share your BBQ or Christmas food with your pets. Scraps and fatty leftovers can cause pancreatitis in pets, which could lead to severe abdominal pain or death. Owners should watch out their pets aren’t eating corn on the cob or peach pits, as they can lodge in a dog’s intestines.