Last weekend, the weather was for “dangerous heat” across NSW and extreme heatacross Australia.
It’s important to keep your pets safe from heat stress, says Dr Anne Quain,clinical vet and lecturer in the Sydney School of Veterinary Science at theUniversity of Sydney.
“Whether you live with dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, birds or othercompanion animals, you need to pay attention to the daily forecast – not justthis weekend, but every day,” said Dr Quain.
“Climate change means that we are experiencing higher temperatures on hotdays, and hot days are becoming more frequent.
“That means everyone caring for companion animals needs a hot weather plan,and they’re going to have to enact it several times throughout summer. Hightemperatures can be deadly for pets.
“Animals are prone to heat stress, in part because they cannot control theenvironments they are in. If you care for animals, you need to ensure thatthey are in a well-ventilated environment, with access to shade all day.”
“On extremely hot days, animals may need indoor access,” Dr Quain said.
“Animals kept in hutches, cages or aviaries are particularly vulnerable andmay require temporary indoor housing. Brachycephalic or flat faced breeds ofdogs, such as Pugs, Shih Tzus and Chihuahuas, are very vulnerable to heatstress as they cannot cool down easily.
“One positive in 2020 is that many people are fortunate enough to be able towork from home at least some days. This means that they can be home to observeand care for animals on very hot days.”
- Listen to the weather forecast every day.
- Develop a hot weather plan: this may involve moving animals normally housed outside indoors temporarily, having a neighbour or friend check on animals, rescheduling planned activities, leaving a fan or air conditioner on. If you don’t have somewhere cool to keep animals, you may need to board them in an air-conditioned facility during heatwaves.
- Minimise exercise. Keep to short walks in the cooler parts of the day – usually early in the morning or late in the evening. Refrain from exercising animals in the hotter parts of the day.
- Avoid walking dogs on hot surfaces. We wear shoes – they don’t. When the ambient temperature is just 25 degrees, the temperature of the footpath in the full sun can reach 50 degrees.
- Monitor the temperature indoors and, if necessary, use a fan or air conditioner. Ideally, someone should be home with the animal(s).
- Ensure animals have a cool surface to sit on. Pavers and concrete get very hot.
- Ensure cool, fresh water is available from multiple sources throughout the day. Animals may drink more than usual on a hot day. You can add a few ice cubes to water bowls.
- Never leave animals unattended in cars, even for a few minutes. The temperature inside a car can reach life-threatening levels within minutes and animals cannot let themselves out.
- If you are concerned that your pet is showing signs of heat stress, contact your closest veterinarian immediately.
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