VIDEO: Dogs, cats and birds feel the heat too

AS WE feel like we are melting in the hot weather today, we need to remember our fluffy, furry, feathery friends.

Humans are not the only ones that will feel the heat.

Check out the information below about what happens to animals in the heat from the RSPCA Queensland and how to help them:

Dogs don't sweat. Cooling occurs through panting (evaporative cooling from the lungs and mouth), lying on a cool surface and drinking cool water. Hot weather paired with high humidity are the most dangerous days for dogs as cooling through panting is not as efficient in these weather conditions.

Therefore, always ensure that your pet's water bowl is checked on a regular basis and they always have access to clean, fresh water. In the event that you are out, ensure that the bowl is big enough to hold enough water for the whole day.

In case of a tip-over, leave two or three water bowls - just in case! You could also pop in a few ice cubes to keep the water nice and cold. Check out our World for Pets website to view the various bowls available.

Guinea pigs are very susceptible to heat stress. You should ensure that your guinea pig's hutch will remain shaded the entire day. A good supply of drinking water should be available and an ice brick wrapped in a tea towel placed in the pen.

Shade for the day. If your pet is in the backyard during the day, ensure they have plenty of access to shade - remember the sun moves throughout the day - so ensure your pet has shade from all aspects throughout the day. Pets can suffer heatstroke or even death in their own backyard on a hot Summer's day without shade or water.

Sleeping spots. Dogs will normally find the coolest spot of the house or yard themselves, but place outside beds or mats in shady or cool spots. Try dampening your dog's blankets or mats with water to create cool resting spots, or you can also buy cool mats and cool jackets specifically for dogs.

Stay cool. Keep your pet cool this summer with cooling mats or a cooling jacket.

Bubble bath! When the heat soars take the opportunity to give your pet a bath with lukewarm water. This will instantly cool them down and prevent any overheating. See the World for Pets website for a list of pet-friendly shampoos and conditioners.

Dogs shouldnt be left in cars in this hot weather Photo Renee Pilcher / The Gympie Times
Dogs shouldnt be left in cars in this hot weather Photo Renee Pilcher / The Gympie Times Renee Pilcher

Doggy paddle! Not all dogs know how to swim! If you have a backyard pool, ensure it is adequately fenced and your dog knows how to swim.

Teach your dog to swim to a certain point at the edge of the pool where the stairs are. You can even get a doggy ladder to make the swimming experience easier for your pooch.

Or get a small paddle pool (with shallow water) to keep them cool in summer (also makes a great extra water bowl!)

Caution! HOT! During a heat wave (or extreme temperatures), it is best to have your dog inside in a well-ventilated area, which will give them a break from the scorching sun.

If your dog is outside, always make sure he/she has ample shade and the water bowl remains cool and under the shade. Dog houses do not provide adequate ventilation; your dog and can end up being in a 'hot box', which can make matters even worse.

Pupsicles! Frozen treats in a treat dispenser or kong or even cupcake liners are a great way to cool down your dog and keep them occupied. Get creative in the kitchen! There are many simple recipes to keep your dog cool this summer.

Check out a list of kongs and treat toys available at our World for Pets website. Pet popsicles are a great treat and can be made out of all kinds of things your dog (or cats) eat normally, so experiment to see what they like best!

Let's go walking! It is essential that your dog gets a regular walk. However, always be mindful of the intensity of the summer heat and the terrible effects the heat can have on your dog.

Remember sunrise and sunset are the most ideal times for a walk.

Try to walk on grass rather than hot concrete as this can burn your pooch's paw pads. Also ensure that you always carry a water bottle and a bowl to prevent your dog from getting dehydrated.

Sarah Harvey

Slip Slop Slap for your Pet! Dogs and cats with smooth/thin hair and white-coloured ears or noses can be more susceptible to skin cancers, so be mindful of this when the sun is out.

To ensure that your dog doesn't get sunburnt, keep your pet out of the sun in the hottest hours of the day and consider doggy sunscreen from our World for Pets website.

To keep your cat safe from skin cancer, consider keeping white cats or cats with white facial markings as indoor cats. To learn more about safely keeping your cat confined inside see the RSPCA National website.

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 is too hot. For goldfish the water temperature shouldn't be higher than about 28 degrees. If the fan option 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. Let's look after our scaly friends!

DON’T FLAP: Wildlife carer Beverley Clarke sprays water on a rescued bird to keep it cool.
DON’T FLAP: Wildlife carer Beverley Clarke sprays water on a rescued bird to keep it cool. Rob Williams

Watch out! Heat stress can sometimes be more prevalent as a result of the animal's physiological attributes. Brachycephalic (flat face) breeds, such as pugs, boxers, bulldogs, terries and king charles cavaliers are far more susceptible to heat stress than other breeds.

This is due to the fact that dogs naturally reduce their body temperature by panting (evaporative cooling from the lungs and mouth). Brachycephalic breeds have shortened airways which reduces the effectiveness of panting. The weather does not even have to be particularly hot for these breeds to develop symptoms of heat stress.

Symptoms of heat stress are:

  •     Panting
  •     Seeking a cool/shady spot
  •     Excessive salivation
  •     Enlarging tongue
  •     Red gums/lips
  •     Increasing heart rate
  •     Anxious or distressed demeanour
  •     Staggering

If the animal's high temperature is not relieved the animal's condition quickly worsens. The animal may start to display more severe symptoms of heat stress which include:

  •     Very rapid heart rate
  •     Circulation shutdown
  •     Trembling/seizures/falling down
  •     Respiratory distress
  •     Vomit with blood
  •     Diarrhoea with blood
  •     Coma

If an animal has heat stress, prompt action is needed if a positive outcome is to be achieved. First aid measures should be applied quickly and the animal must then be transported to a veterinarian immediately. Never transport an animal whilst they are still hot, cooling them down using first aid is essential.

First aid measures include bathing the animal in cool (not cold) water, applying ice packs to the groin and underarm area, using fans and air con.

The animal should also be offered cool, fresh water to bring their temperature down. Once the animal is cool always take them to the vets as they may internal damage due to the heat stress.

Dogs in Hot Cars Each year, the RSPCA receives hundreds of distress calls about animals (usually dogs) being left in cars in the heat. 

Topics:  animals editors picks hot weather pets rspca

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