Hot Days - The Aussie Summer

Tuesday, December 13, 2016  | The Pet Whisperer

Hi Coasties.

I love the Aussie Summer. It is synonymous and iconic, yet we often forget the impacts it can have on our pets. Without going into extreme detail for each type of pet - this is a bit of a broad cover, and for anything more specific, I suggest you pop into The Pet House or consult your vet.

Many of us have Dogs ... I have three. So, what do I do and what do I believe you should do on such hot days is along the lines of the following:

  1. Have plenty of water around. Sounds obvious, but water evaporates, and with multiple dogs, it is easy to run out. I have several bowls around my house. Each bowl is ceramic. Why ceramic? It is cooler - less evaporation, it is harder to tip over, it is better for cleanliness and bacteria control, and it won't leach nasties into the water. Another trick is to put ice into their bowl before leaving to keep it cool.
  2. Give them the opportunity to regulate their environment to alter their temps. This could be any of the following: Give them plenty of shade, give them a bed off the floor that isn't a "winter weight" bed, cooling mats/floor tiles will help, or even a shallow pool - be aware of the dangers of this with kids around.
  3. Don't walk them in the heat of the day. Wait until later in the evening - or consider driving to a place that allows for off-leash activities that can aid in cooling such as one of the many dog friendly beaches (link to map). Be aware that even later in the day, the path may hold considerable heat which can still burn their feet pads - walk on the grass if possible.
  4. Some breeds cannot cope with the heat, and they should be in air conditioned comfort. Short muzzle breeds often cannot pant enough to make use of the evaporative cooling in their airway. Over 40 degrees Celsius, your canine is in trouble. So, if you have a short muzzle breed (boxer/bulldog/pug/etc), you need to take extra precautions.
  5. Make Ice-blocks - YUM!. Their is no reason you can't make a dog friendly ice-block for them to chew on a hot day. Stuff a Cow Hoof with quality pate style canned food; use an ice cube maker with healthy dog treats stuck in the ice ... use your imagination.
  6. Don't leave pets in cars. The inside of a car will riase temps very quickly. Nearly all the heat rise occurs within the first 15 mins, and on average is some 40 degrees Celsius above ambient temps ... Ouch!.

Cats have similar concerns to the dogs above. You can help them cool down in the all the same ways as for dogs - the ultimate being that they should not be outside in the heat. Any treats etc that have been chilled need to be appropriate for cat consumption (carnivore). I would not recommend cold/frozen meats because if not consumed, you have sanitary issues around the home.

Dogs and Cats signs of Heat Stroke. It can occur in under 8 mins within a car. Signs to look for are red-sand coloured gums, desperate panting, drooling and sometimes hyper-activity. This is a medical emergency - it can lead to Death! Don't wrap the pet in blankets (wet or otherwise). Drench the pet with water and offer a drink. Don't wet the nose. Turn on the Air Conditioning and go to your nearest vet.

Fish aquarium will usually heat up - if tropical, this is not a problem so long as your thermostatically controlled heater is working correctly. For cold water fish - this is also not a problem so long as they don't heat up too much, and don't fluctuate in temp too quickly. Fish can cope with warm water, but they don't like to cope with wildly fluctuating temps over a short time. So if the aquarium has heated up and you get home and put on the air conditioner, monitor the aquarium for loosing temps too quickly.

You will probably need to feed more too, to cope with the increased activity caused by warmer water. This then produces more waste, so you need to really consider your water change routine too, and remember that the tap water may be considerably cooler than the aquarium, so could cause thermal shock. This is yet another reason that we do not recommend any larger than 25% water changes.

Axolotls can experience thermal stress at elevated temps, so you may need to dump in some ice to help lower temps.

Reptiles rely on temps to gain energy activity. It is vital that on such warm days that you have the correct settings. Any climate not being controlled by a thermostat is a crazy risk - and one that I would not take. My snake has plenty of ventilation on warm days, and a thermostat to ensure the heating is not adding to the ambient temps causing a climbing temp function.

Birds will also feel the heat and may stand with their wings slightly open to increase surface area to cool. You can very lightly mist them with water to aid in this cooling. Ultimately, you need to position them such that they can cope with the heat or provide air conditioning, shade etc.


I hope this helps.


The Pet Whisperer.