Summer is the time when we love to get outside for a walk in the warm sun, head to the beach, go out to cafes for a cool drink or ice cream. All these activities are great to be doing with your canine friends too!
Australian summers can get very hot, so whenever you are considering taking your best furry friend with you, remember that they may experience weather differently to people.
Both cats and dogs can sweat out of their paw pads but as this is a very small surface area and it is not the most effective way to cool down. They also pant to lose excess heat but for pets with smaller airways (brachycephalic pets such as pugs, bulldogs and Persian cats etc.), it is a lot harder to use this method. Ensure your pet always has somewhere cool to relax on a hot day.
The ground warms quickly on sunny days. If you cannot hold your bare hand against the pavement, your dog, who doesn’t wear shoes, may feel that heat through the pads on their feet. Hot paths can potentially cause burns on the pads of dogs’ feet so opt for the cooler times of the day, before the sun rises or as the sun sets. Even as the sun goes down, the paths may take some time to cool. Always check the temperature of the path if it has been a hot day.
The beach is also a great idea to venture out to with the dogs. Dogs love a swim and digging in the sand. Take some fresh water for them to drink as the sea water can give them a tummy upset.
Travelling in the car anywhere on a warm day with your dog can create some happy memories. Once the engine is turned off, the temperature inside of a car can soar quickly. Keep the air conditioning on at all times or if you need to exit the vehicle and turn it off, make sure your dog comes with you. Even leaving the windows open will have the temperatures continuing to rise.
If you suspect your pet is starting to overheat on a hot day, place it somewhere cooler, offer plenty of water and even provide a bath or pool of cool water. It is also important that you do not cool them off too quickly as when suffering from heatstroke, the body is unable to regulate temperature so quick cooling will then lead to hypothermia.
Signs of heatstroke includes:
- Rapid breathing or panting (normal on a hot day for most animals but is also seen with heat stroke)
- Abnormal bleeding- red lesions on the skin caused by broken blood vessels, blood in vomit, blood in faeces
- Increased heart rate
- Muscle tremors
- Disorientation and restlessness
Other concerns over the summer period include sunburns and “hotspots”, and white dogs with lighter skin pigmentation are more prone to sunburn and skin cancers.
Pet sunscreen is available to use for vulnerable skin, rather than using human sunscreen as the toxins from human products can affect animals differently.
“Hotspots” are areas of the skin that can become infected. They develop after excess scratching and licking on an area that has been irritated. The extra licking and scratching damages the skin barrier, which then supports the bacteria on the surface to grow excessively. Hotspots can develop at any time of the year but with hot and humid conditions over summer, they are seen more often.
If you have any concerns in regards to the health of your pet during summer, please contact us at the Gisborne Veterinary Clinic on (03) 54282805