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8 Tips To Protect Your Pets From The Summer Sun

With a long, hot summer upon us, pet owners are urged to be extra mindful of their pet’s health and safety. Unusually warm weather can quickly take its toll on furry family members, who aren’t well equipped for dealing with blazing heat.

The National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) recently released its forecast for summer, showing that marine heatwave conditions are expected. Described as periods of extremely warm sea surface temperatures persisting for some time, it also means above average forecasted air temperatures across the country with elevated humidity.

“While many welcome a hot summer it can put extra stress on pets, both large and small,” says Michelle Le Long, chief operations officer at pet insurance provider PD Insurance. “But with a little extra awareness from us, our dogs and cats can enjoy the holidays as much as we do.”

Unlike humans, cats and dogs can’t handle hot weather particularly well. After all, they’re covered in a coat of insulating fur. Neither species sweats like we do.

Dogs, who are more likely to be running around outside, control their temperature by panting and sweating through their paws. Cats, on the other hand, know a thing or two about evaporative cooling. They lick their coats in summer to help control temperatures – the saliva drying off takes heat with it, in the same way that human sweating works.

With that said, here’s the top tips for cool pets on a hot day:

1. Pets can dehydrate fast. Make sure there’s plenty of fresh, clean water, and be sure there’s a cool, shady place available where they can rest out of the harsh rays of the sun.

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2. Don’t overexercise. Just as you’d seek shelter in the pool or under a brolly in the heat of the day, don’t take your pet for a prowl if it’s properly sweltering. Early mornings and evenings are best.

3. Avoid hot pavements. Paws can burn, leaving your pal in an unpleasant place and you with a potential vet bill. If you can’t walk on it barefoot, neither can they.

4. No parked cars. This is a more obvious one, but it must be said: don’t leave your pet in a parked car. Not only do parked cars act as an oven, heating up so rapidly that even a matter of minutes can put your pet into difficulty or worse, it’s an offence. Those who stray can expect a well-deserved reminder from authorities, to the tune of $300.

5. Trim don’t shave. For those with long-haired cat or dog breeds, trim their mane into something a little cooler. But avoid the temptation to go too short: fur coats might be a little overdressed for the summer, but they protect your pet from sunburn.

6. Avoid the burn. On that note, bear in mind some breeds (including Staffies, Dalmatians and any pale pup) are prone to sunburn, so take precautions for these pets. Use sunscreen and make sure it’s labelled specifically for use on animals. Other pets need to be actively cooled down – snub-nosed dogs like Bulldogs, Pugs, and Boston Terriers, and cats like Persians, can’t pant efficiently and may need a hand (e.g. a cool shower and/or positioning under the aircon). Long haired cats can benefit from more frequent brushing, helping to keep their fur under control.

7. Watch for the symptoms of heat stroke. An overheating pet might pant excessively, have difficulty breathing with an increased heart and respiratory rate, drool, display uncharacteristic weakness, appear ‘out of it’ or even collapse. Other more serious symptoms include seizures, bloody diarrhoea and vomit along with a body temperature above 40 degrees. If any of these symptoms are noticed, cool your pet, offer water and take them straight to the nearest vet.

8. Be careful around water. We love our beaches, rivers, lakes and streams, but these can be dangerous areas for your pets. Keep a close eye out because, just like with other family members, keeping cool can get them into trouble. Reduce any risk of your pet getting caught in a rip or washed away.

Le Long says a hot summer is something to be looked forward to. “Make this summer the best by taking your pet along to enjoy every moment, while being sure to take special care of their needs. And remember, a vet bill for an overheated pet can be expensive, but insurance isn’t. We’ve made pet insurance fast, simple and affordable, so when your dog or cat needs health or accident care, the cost doesn’t have to concern you.”

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