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Heat stress in pets

Posted: Sunday, November 16, 2014 at 7:29:16 AM EST by Cam Day

Ten Cool Tips for Hot Pets

Don't let your pet get hot under the collar this summer. The summer heat can kill but here are ten timely tips that will help your pet to keep its cool.

 1.       Heated arguments

One tragic mistake that pet owners make too commonly at this time of year is to leave their pets in a hot car. Dogs die in hot cars in a very short space of time and it shouldn't happen.

 Any car can be a fatal furnace for pet. The highest temperatures are reached in cars of dark colour and with large glass areas. Hatchback cars are the worst, with temperatures quickly exceeding 70 degrees centigrade. This is lethal for any living being, including children.

 Short nosed breeds of dogs, such as Bull Dogs, Pugs and the Pekingese, are very susceptible to heat stress.  Obese dogs and cats are at risk too as are those with poor circulation and dogs with any respiratory disease.

The rule is simple. At this time of year, your pet should not travel with you if you are going to stop anywhere other than at your final destination. Many say "But I'm only going into the shop for a litre of milk - I'll be just a minute". The 'just a minute' extends very quickly if the shop is busy or if you happen to meet a talkative friend. Your pet may be dead - and it only takes 'just a minute'.

 2.     Jogging Dogs

I cringe when I see people cycling or jogging with their dogs in summer. The owner knows when he or she is getting too hot but the dog is so faithful it will ignore the messages from its body that say 'stop'.

How many times have you seen dogs with their tongues dangling in a futile attempt to cool themselves while they struggle to keep pace with their owners? Dogs like this often collapse from circulatory failure.

 If you are exercising your dog in this weather, please do so in the early morning or after dark.

 3.     A Cool Kennel

It is essential that your pets have adequate shade at this time of year but you should be aware that it's the afternoon sun as it slides to the west that's the killer.

 Ensure that a shady spot is provided on the eastern side of your house.  Perhaps your house itself provides a cool spot on the eastern side or, with a high-set house, the area underneath the house is often the coolest.   Shade cloth placed in a sensible, strategic position will help. Perhaps you can provide access to your garage or laundry via a dog door to give your pet shade.

 4.         Toasting Tiles and Concrete

Does your pet wear shoes?  I doubt it and therein lies a problem. Tiled, concreted and bitumen-covered areas around your home become frying-egg hot in summer. Prove it to yourself by placing your open palm on concrete and tiled areas around your outside entertainment areas. If your pet is forced to walk along such areas regularly or if its bed or kennel is placed onto pavement-covered areas, the radiant heat will make the area very uncomfortable for your pet. 

 Placing artificial grass over the pavement often helps to keep the tiles cool and your pets smiling.

 5.            Water Good Idea

Your pets need plenty of fresh, cool water at this time of year and their water bowls should be cleaned and refilled daily.  Provide more that one water bowl in case your pet knocks one over and, for your dog, provide water in buckets, not in bowls. Dogs often like to 'bury their heads' in buckets and to bite the water in play. This is a good way of them cooling themselves down and should be encouraged.

Sipper drinkers that attach directly to a tap are also available from pet shops. When you dog nuzzles the drinker, fresh water is released. Be sure your dog has alternative water sources until you are certain it know how to use these devices.

 6          Pooling Resources

Those clam shell sandpits that are available cheaply from children?s stores are ideal for pets.  Fill one side with water and your pet may like to drink the water, wade in it, stand in it or lie in it. Place sand in the other half and wet the sand. The combination will provide a cool, beach-like distraction for your heated hound. No hot dogs at this beach resort please!

Place a sprinkler in the bottom of the water pool and connect that to a cheap electronic hose timer. These are readily available. That way your pet can have an occasional fountain in its cool pool.

Alternatively, with the hose connected to a timer set to permitted sprinkler hours, tie the other end of your hose to a tree. The hose will come to life during the day and give your pets a watery wonder world.  Cool!

7.         The Hair of the Dog

It's easy for us to shed unwanted clothes in summer but not so easy for long-haired dogs and cats to shed their coats.  

Having your pet clipped now is a good idea and there are many grooming parlours around town that will do the job for you. 

Most pets are shedding their coats at this time of year and daily grooming to remove unwanted hair will make your pet more comfortable. Buy a suitable brush from your pet shop and the job will be more hair-raising! 

8.         Wet Pets and Fan Fare

If your dog has trouble coping with the heat or if you need to leave it on a hot day, it?s a good idea to hose your dog before you leave. The water will evaporate and cool the pooch and make it much more comfortable.  Provide a fan for your dog or cat and, if it is wet, the evaporation will be even more effective. 

9.       Icy Solutions

To help your pet keep its cool while you are at work, provide it with some icy delights. 

Freeze a cup or two of water and place the ice blocks in your dog's water bowl in the morning.  Maybe a frozen bone or a Kong toy will be useful. 

Also, make some Frozen Sloup by placing some Vegemite broth or similar into a plastic lunch box or margarine container. Throw in some chunks of fresh meat, some liver treats or a sensible bone and freeze  the whole lot.

When you go to work, remove the frozen delight from its container and place it into an empty food bowl. It will provide your pet with a stimulating and nutritious boredom blaster during the day that will also keep your hot dog cool.  Icy!

10.             Small Concerns

Let's not forget the needs of cage pets such as birds, chickens and guinea pigs. Be sure their enclosures are in shade and adequate water is provided. For cage birds at a window or on a veranda, be certain that they are not trapped in the afternoon sun as it arcs over your house.  

Livestock also need adequate shade. So many horses and other hobby-farm pets are forced to bake in the sun all day. A shade cloth shelter is cheap to construct and will provide essential comfort. 

Heat stress is a major concern over summer but a little common sense is all that is required to help your pets keep their cool. Please be careful.


Comment by: Virginia Bills
Nov 16, 2014 at 12:49 PM
I fill up soft drink bottles & freeze them & place then in with the Guinea pigs. They love to lie around them to keep cool
Comment by: Cam Day
Nov 16, 2014 at 9:33 AM
Great suggestions Rowana!!
Comment by: Romana Bowd
Nov 16, 2014 at 8:18 AM
I also use old take away containers and make up a sloup of sardines and freeze then when I leave I pop it out and they adore making sure they get to the fish fast! Great nutrition and great for their coats!
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