The Heat is On
As the temperatures begin to increase around Australia, Pet Insurance Australia has a timely warning about keeping your pet safe this Summer.
“It’s starting to get very hot in many areas around Australia,” Nadia Crighton from Pet Insurance Australia says. “Now is the time that pet parents need to be vigilant when it comes to ensuring their pets are kept safe during the hot summer days.”
Dogs and cats can succumb to the heat. Dogs seem to be more prone to heatstroke than cats, who tend to find a cool spot and calm down. A dog, however, even on a very hot day, will continue to run and play and will need to be encouraged to stop and cool down.
“There are some wonderful products on the market including cooling mats and even jackets that can help keep your pet cool,” Crighton says. “However, the best advice is to teach your pet and encourage them to seek out cooler zones, and ensuring their environment is suited to the hot weather.”
The cost of treating heatstroke in dogs can vary substantially depending on how the dog presents, the progression of the condition, and any complications. The highest claim received for heatstroke was just over $22,000 in 2018*. In 2020, the highest claim received for heatstroke was an eyewatering $10,000.
Dog breeds most affected include British Bulldog, French Bulldog, Great Dane, Australian Bulldog, and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
“Signs of heat stress include excessive panting and salivation, vomiting and bloody diarrhoea,” Crighton says. “Pets may become restless, anxious, and unsteady, and their gums may become bright red or bluish due to lack of oxygen. Seizures and collapse can also occur.”
Any dog can be affected by heatstroke and at any age, however, older pets seem to be more susceptible. This is likely due to other predisposing conditions including heart disease, respiratory disease, and obesity.
Other top tips include:
- Ensure water bowls are not stainless steel and keep them out of direct sunlight. Add a few extra drinking areas, cats and dogs also love flowing water from pet fountains.
- Keep dog beds and cat perches out of the sun.
- Create cool zones, hose down under trees, and create ample shaded areas.
- Do not leave your pet in the car, even for a few minutes.
- Only exercise your pet during the cooler parts of the day.
- If your pet is exhibiting any symptoms of heatstroke seek veterinary treatment quickly.
- Allow your pet inside to lay on the bathroom and kitchen floors. Plus; they will also benefit from a fan or the air-conditioning.
- If it’s too hot for a run at the dog park, consider teaching your pet a new trick. Flexing their minds can be just as beneficial as a big run.
- Consider clipping thick-coated breeds.
“Dogs can also suffer from burnt paws easily,” Crighton advises. “A good rule of thumb is to check the pavement with the back of your hand. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your dog.”
Playing in a paddling pool and also incorporating play with ice can help on a scorching hot day.
“If you have a very energetic dog give them something cool to do,” Crighton says. “Freezing an ice-container with some beef stock flavoured water and a few dog biscuits will give them a fun ice-block to lick, and also keep them occupied without the need to run around.”
Symptoms of Heatstroke
- Pet distress
- Excessive panting
- Copious volumes of saliva
- Bright red or pale gums
- Agitated breathing
- Increased heart rate
If you suspect your pet is suffering from heat-related stress it is imperative, you seek professional veterinary help quickly.
Pet’s Most at Risk
- Elderly pets
- Sick or injured pets
- Brachycephalic Dog Breeds
- Very young pets
- Overweight pets
- Thick coated breeds
- Energic pets
*2018 Data Pet Insurance Australia
Photo by Andres Perez