8 ways to keep your pet safe in summer

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Summer is an enjoyable time – it's the season for beach trips, afternoon barbeques, and pool parties. Given you take the right steps to ensure your pet’s safety, it can be a fun time for them too. 

Our pets are smaller, more vulnerable, and more prone to conditions like heat stroke, so it's imperative we do everything we can to keep them out of harm's way.

1. Make sure they have access to shade

If you have an outside pet, it must have ample water and shade. A pergola, tall tree, patio, or tarp in your yard can help keep them cool and prevent sunburn and heat stroke. Ensure your pet isn't tied up to reduce the risk of them getting tangled and not being able to reach their water and shade.

Pets don't regulate their body temperature in the same way humans do. Instead of sweating, they rely on panting, staying hydrated, and keeping out of the sun, so it's important to provide a space for them to retreat to if it gets too hot to handle.

Guinea pigs kept in wooden hutches and outdoor sheds can overheat quickly, especially if they're in direct sunlight. If you know it's going to be a hot day, move the cage or hutch into the shade or garage, and provide a cooling ice block or fan if you have one.

If possible, consider bringing your pets inside for the day to minimise the risk of heat stroke and sunburn. 

2. Provide plenty of fresh drinking water

Whether your pet is an inside or outside pet, they should always have access to fresh, clean drinking water. This proves even more important during those scorching summer days when our pets heavily rely on water to help regulate their body temperature. 

Part of providing your pet with access to fresh drinking water is ensuring they have a clean bowl. Bring any outside bowls inside each night to avoid any birds, rodents, or insects that might contaminate your pet's bowl. Your pet's food and water bowls should be cleaned often to reduce the risk of contamination. Just a 30-second wash with very hot soapy water or putting them in the dishwasher for a cycle can kill any bad bacteria, and help keep your pets safe.

3. Keep them hydrated with frozen treats

Our favourite way to keep pets hydrated (and occupied!) on hot days is by making up frozen treats. Fill your pet’s bowl with water and some fresh (or frozen) fruit, like bananas, blueberries, and strawberries. Pop it in the freezer, and a few hours later you’ll have a hydrating and enriching treat that will slowly defrost throughout the day. You could also substitute the fruits for kibble, or use a Kong toy instead. To ensure your pet has cold water all day, fill and freeze a bowl about halfway up with water. When frozen, take it out and fill the rest of the bowl with water. This will ensure your pet’s water remains cold, while the ice at the bottom melts. 

Frozen lick mats are also a great way to keep your dogs cool, hydrated, and entertained. 

4. Limit exercise on hot days

While dogs love their walks, be sure to limit how much time they spend in the sun on hot days. Go for your daily walk early in the morning before it gets too hot, or in the late afternoon to evening once it's cooled down. Not only is it uncomfortable to be exercising in such scorching weather, but if you’re walking on the pavement or gravel, this can do harm to their paw pads. Walk your pooch on the grass or tree-lined sidewalks to save them from burning their paws. Alternatively, take them to a covered picnic area or a park with lots of trees and natural shade. 

If you're unsure if the pavement is too hot for your pooch to walk on, place your hand on it, palm down. If it's hot to touch and you can’t keep your hand there for more than 5 seconds without pain, it’s too hot for young Fido. 

We’d also recommend bringing a collapsible bowl and a bottle of water as an extra precaution, especially if you’re going on a hike or a long walk.

5. Keep them away from food during summer barbeques

Aussies love their barbeques. Nothing beats a cold bevvy, a snag, and some mates on a hot Saturday. When manning the barbeque and cooking up all those sausages and steaks, keep your pet away – perhaps inside, or in a crate with their own snack. Not only is the grill hot, but many popular BBQ foods can pose a threat to their health. Brief your guests on what can and can’t be fed to your pet. While cooked steak can be a delicious treat for your dog or cat, refrain from feeding them garlic, onions, grapes, chocolate, and common foods that are unsafe for pets

6. Use a cooling vest

While we’d advise against any strenuous exercise on a hot day, cooling collars or vests can be a helpful way to keep Fido cool on his morning walk or hike. They can also be helpful for dogs with thick coats, as they already struggle with effectively regulating their body heat on hot days. 

There are a few types of cooling vests – evaporation-based vests that work best when doused with water, vests with ice pack inserts, and cooling gel-based vests. Evaporation-based vests work best when the dog is at the beach or a lake. When the vest is submerged, the inner layer concentrates the coolness from the water, releasing heat while the water evaporates.

Cooling vest
Kurgo Dog Core Cooling Vest
Starts at
$57.22

Price is accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

We love the Kurgo Dog Core Cooling Vest. It uses evaporation technology to keep your dog cool, using three layers all made from breathable, lightweight fabric. Simply soak it in cold water and wring it out right before you leave for your walk or hike to activate it.

The outer layer of the vest reflects heat off your dog and sends the water to be stored in the middle layer. The lining of the vest uses the water from the middle layer to cool your dog's back and chest.

To keep your dog cooler for longer, direct them into any nearby bodies of water once the vest has dried. This will start the cooling process over again. As with any evaporation-based cooling vest, we recommend carrying an extra bottle of water in case you take a detour or don't end up visiting a body of water on your hike or walk. 

7. Never leave your pet unsupervised near a pool or beach

There’s an assumption that all dogs know how to swim, and unfortunately, it's just not true. Never leave your pet unsupervised near a pool or body of water that's deep enough to submerge their nose and mouth (especially if they’ve previously suffered head trauma or a seizure). Shallow plastic kid’s pools, bathtubs, beaches, and even water buckets can prove to be dangerous if your pet is left unsupervised.

Introduce your dog to the pool or beach gradually, especially if you know they’re not a strong swimmer. Make sure they don’t drink any of the pool water, and ensure you rinse them off well to remove any chlorine or salt from their fur.

8. Watch for signs of heat stroke

Heat stroke is a common occurrence for pets during the summer, especially for short-nosed or flat-faced dog and cat breeds like pugs, bulldogs, Persians, and Himalayan cats. If your pet is overweight or has a thick fur coat, they're also prone to heat stroke.

Heat stroke occurs when a pet's normal body temperature (38.3°C to 39.2°C for cats and dogs) rises above 41°C. It's important to look out for some signs your pet might have heat stroke so you can take immediate action. 

Watch for:

  • Heavy panting that doesn't resolve as they rest
  • Dark red to purple tongue colour
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased distress
  • Weakness/inability to stand up
  • Vomiting 
  • Salivating
  • Muscle tremors 

If you suspect your pet has heat stroke, move them out of the heat immediately. Cool their ears, neck, stomach, and paws with an ice pack, cold towel, or cool (but not cold) water, and get them to a vet as soon as possible. 

Heat stroke can be fatal, and can also lead to organ and brain damage, so it's critical you take all necessary steps to keep your pet safe.

Final word

The bond between a pet and its owner is a unique one. That’s why we should be taking every precaution to keep them safe and out of harm's way – especially during summer. Watch for signs of heat stroke, ensure they have enough water and shade, and keep them hydrated with frozen treats. 


Disclaimer
Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time of publish and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the retailer’s website at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. SafeWise Australia utilises paid affiliate links.
Hannah Geremia
Written by
Hannah Geremia
Hannah has had over six years of experience in researching, writing, and editing quality content. She loves gaming, dancing, and animals, and can usually be found under a weighted blanket with a cup of coffee and a book.

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