While we're enjoying another classic Kiwi summer (slip, slop, slap everyone!), remember that the warmer months can really take its toll on your furry best friend. Check out our tips and tricks to keep your pets happy and healthy this summer.
Hot Cars Kill
First and foremost, NEVER leave your pet in a parked car - even in the shade with the windows cracked. We cannot stress this enough. Temperatures can skyrocket inside a vehicle - on a 30℃ day it can hit 39℃ in less than 5 minutes, and after half an hour it can reach a deadly 49℃.
Dogs can only sweat a little through their paws and rely on panting to cool down, but sometimes this isn't enough to lower their body temperature to a safe level. Overheating causes dehydration and heatstroke, leading to irreparable organ damage and death.
New animal welfare rules introduced in 2018 mean fines of $300 for people who leave dogs to overheat in cars or do not provide them with adequate shaded and dry shelter. Not only can the fine go to the person who left the dog in the car, the owner of the car and the dog are also liable. If you see a distressed pet locked in a car you should call the SPCA or police.
Long story short, if your dog isn't coming with you when you exit the car, don't bring them in the first place. Not sure where you can take your dog with you in the city? Check out our Dog Friendly Wellington blog series.
Avoid The Heat, Stay Hydrated
Avoid taking your dog out for walks in the middle of the day and opt for early morning walks or later in the evening when it's cooled down instead. Exercising in hot temperatures can cause your dog to overheat and dehydrate. Take them somewhere with cool grass and shaded areas to rest. If your dog is at home during the hottest parts of the day, make sure they have adequate shade and cool water to drink.
Hydration is crucial for all animals, particularly in the warmer months and you should make sure your pets have access to plenty of fresh, cool water at all times. Our Thirsty Dog Bottles are ideal for hydration on the go. The wrist strap makes it easy to take with you on walks, and the lock switch prevents spills in your bag or in the car. Tip - chuck a couple of ice cubes in the bottle before you head out!
Heatstroke is a very real risk for dogs in summer and knowing how to reduce the risk and apply first aid could be the difference between life and death. Symptoms to look out for include a high body temperature (over 40℃), distress, excessive panting, excess saliva and bluish-purple or bright red gums.
If your dog is showing signs of heatstroke you need to act immediately. Move them into the shade and away from the sun and immerse them in cool (NOT cold) water, wrap them in a soaked towel or run a hose over their body. Keep the air circulating around their body with a fan, try to get them to drink some water and contact your vet immediately.
Hot footpaths can cause some serious damage to your pet's paws. Remember the 3 Second Rule. Before heading out, place the back of your hand on the footpath for 3 seconds. If it's too hot for you, it's too hot for them.
If your dog's paws are burnt, gently soak them in cool (NOT freezing) water for 10 minutes, or wrap a soaked cloth around them. Don't go for any more walks until the paw pads have healed. Ointments like Eezapet can help the healing process and reduce the risk of infection. Serious burns should always be checked by your vet.
Tips for keeping your cats and dogs cool in the summer:
- Place ice cubes in their water bowls throughout the day
- Half-fill a shallow paddling pool for your dog to play in (keep an eye on your pets at all times around water)
- Place some treats in a bowl of water and freeze for doggy iceblocks
- Stroke your pets with a cool cloth
- Summer grooms can help, and brush your pets regularly to avoid matting that can trap moisture and heat (but DON'T shave them)
- Soak a bandana in water and place in the freezer before tying around their necks. Our Wolves of Wellington Mesh Bandanas are perfect for this!
- Source a non-toxic cooling mat
The Great Outdoors
Got a salty sea-dog? Going for a swim at the beach is a great way to cool your dog down in the summer, but be aware of strong currents and rips that can easily pull them out to sea - monitor your pets around water at all times! If you're taking your dog with you on boat trips, consider purchasing a life vest for them in case they fall overboard. Rinse your dog with fresh water after swimming in chlorine to avoid skin irritation.
Like humans, pets can also get sunburned, particularly fair-haired or thin-coated breeds. Source a pet-safe sunscreen (human sunscreen is toxic to dogs), paying close attention to noses, ears and bellies.
With the summer heat comes parasites like hookworm, heartworm, fleas and ticks. Talk to your vet about prevention medication and special shampoos like our neem oil soap bar to help keep critters at bay. Neem oil has insecticidal properties, is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-fungal, soothing and moisturising. It also helps to relieve hot spots and itchy skin. If you suspect your pets have been infested take them to your vet for immediate treatment.
Remember to check your dogs for grass seeds after walks, particularly if they have been in long grass. If left, they can embed themselves in eyes, ears, noses and paws and could require surgery to remove. Regular brushing and grooming using a system like our Bondi Wash range will help you to keep on top of it.
If your dog's sensitive skin flares up over summer, consider using a naturally anti-inflammatory dog shampoo like Kin to soothe and moisturise the skin.
For more information on how to keep your pets safe this summer consult your local vet. Discovered any summer hacks you want to share? Comment below!