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Top 10 Summer Tips for Your Pet
by Dr Mark Perissinotto

Summer is here and sadly this season has seen a large amount of flooding that has brought tragedy and loss for thousands of people around Australia who have been greatly affected by the natural disaster.

Temperatures are however still high in these areas and for other parts of the country that have escaped the floods it's important to remember that summer is the time that our pets are most at risk of overheating and suffering from heat stroke.

Helping your pet to keep cool this summer is vital, but with these few simple tips it won't take any effort at all.

1. Have your pet clipped.

Daily grooming to remove unwanted hair will make your pet more comfortable and will help it to shed excess heat. Grooming aids such as Slicker brushes and Zoom Grooms are designed to strip loose hair from your pet's coat and are very useful.

2. Provide adequate shade and water.

Make sure your pets have adequate shade to rest in at this time of year and have plenty of fresh water in the shade so that it remains cool. Dogs can only sweat through the pads of their feet and by panting. Evaporation from the wet surfaces of their mouth and nose helps lower body temperature.

3. Put ice in their water bowl

Freeze a cup or two of water and place them in your pet's water bowl in the morning to keep their water cool.

4. Exercise in the shade.

Walk your dog in the cooler times of day, either early morning or late evening. Stop regularly to give your dog a rest and a drink, or even better a cooling swim.

5. Walk on the grass.

Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet's paws. Avoid walking on hot roads and sidewalks and instead opt for a walk in a park or on the grass if possible.

6. Don't leave your pets in the car.

Never leave your pet unattended in a hot car. Many say "I'm only going into the shop for a pint 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. On a 21 degree day, the car temperature can rise above 54 degrees in only minutes. The highest temperatures are reached in dark-colored cars with large glass areas.

7. Apply sunscreen.

Pets can get sunburned too! Your pet may require sunscreen on his or her nose and ear tips. Pets with light-colored noses or light-colored fur on their ears are particularly vulnerable to sunburn and skin cancer.

8. Prepare for the beach.

Take care when taking your dog to the beach. Ensure that your pet can find shade or bring a beach umbrella or shade structure. Always remember to take fresh water along as drinking salt water can dehydrate your dog.

9. Take extra care for higher risk pets.

Short nosed breeds of dogs, such as Bull Dogs, Pugs and the Pekingese, are very susceptible to heat stress, as are overweight or thick-coated pets. Dogs or cats with poor circulation, very old animals and dogs with any respiratory disease are also at higher risk, so extra care should be taken.

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 and stay healthy!

10. Know how to treat your pet for heat stroke.

It is very important for you to be aware of the correct ways to help treat you pet if they are to suffer from heat stroke. The information provided below gives detail on the actions to take in order to prevent your pet from becoming permanently damaged.

What do I do if my pet does get heat stroke?

Heat stroke causes incredibly severe damage. Affected animals first appear excited, but then appear to lose their balance. Seizures can occur and this can lead to them slipping into a coma. Multi-organ failure can then follow and the animal will be at grave risk.

If this happens, then emergency first aid is vital and you will need to get them to a vet quickly. While you are contacting your vet, try to cool your pet by placing it in a room temperature (not iced) water bath or by hosing it. Then place your wet animal in front of the fan and apply ice packs to its head.

Your veterinarian will need to give medication to control seizures and to prevent further damage to your pet's organs. They may also give it a water enema to reduce the body temperature. It is likely that your pet will be placed on an intravenous drip and your vet may also anesthetize your pet to prevent seizures.

As always, it is better to prepare your pets for the hotter weather and prevent them from getting heat stroke than to have to treat them for it later, however with early detection and professional treatment you can ensure that they will be back on their feet and are happy and healthy in no time.

About the Author:
Dr Mark Perissinotto BVSc., Managing Director, VetShopAustralia. I am Dr Mark Perissinotto, co-founder and Managing Director of VetShopAustralia and registered veterinarian with over 20 years of experience in the field.
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Disclaimer: The information presented and the opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Pampered Pets™.com and/or its partners.