As we head into summer, it’s important to know the risks that the hot weather will present to your cat, dog or pocket pet. The main risk is heatstroke – a life-threatening condition that can escalate in a matter of minutes. In today’s blog, our trusted vet in Templestowe has put together a guide for everything you need to know about heatstroke so you can help your pet avoid the deadly consequences.
Know why heatstroke occurs
At our vet clinic in Templestowe, the number one heatstroke-related question we get asked is, “Why does it happen?”
Heatstroke occurs because our cats, dogs and pocket pets cannot cool down their bodies in the same way that we can, as they do not have as many sweat glands as we do. In order to compensate, they can often start to pant, but this only works to a certain extent before they begin to overheat. Once they start overheating, they can experience the symptoms of heatstroke, which is a condition that can be fatal.
Know how to help prevent heatstroke
The best way to help your pet with heatstroke is to prevent it altogether. You can help prevent heatstroke in the following ways:
- Avoid exercising your pet or allowing them to walk on heat-retentive surfaces (such as sand or asphalt) in the hot weather
- Put a wet towel inside your pocket pet’s cage for them to lie on, and hang another wet cloth on the side of the cage so that the passing breeze will be cooler
- Never ever leave your pet in the car – in just 20 minutes on a 21°C day, your dog can overheat.
Know the symptoms of heatstroke
The main symptoms of heatstroke include:
- Rapid panting and salivation
- Difficulty breathing
- Vomiting and diarrhoea
- Muscle tremors and/or seizures.
Know a vet in Templestowe that you can contact
The first thing you should do if you notice that your pet is suffering from any of the above symptoms is call a vet in Templestowe and let them know your pet is experiencing a medical emergency.
The next few things you do are crucial to helping your pet cool down in the meantime:
- Immediately remove your pet from the hot environment
- Spray or apply cool (not cold) water on your pet and then use a fan to cool down your pet quickly
- Use a wet cloth to wet the area around your pet.
Vets on Parker is a vet in Templestowe that has been trusted by pet owners for over 30 years. If you have noticed that your pet is displaying any signs of heatstroke, we urge you to get in touch with us immediately on (03) 9850 1355.
Many children love animals and can develop close bonds with their pets. This, in turn, can help the child learn important social skills such as empathy, respect for others and patience. However, if an animal feels trapped, frightened or threatened, even the most docile pets will do everything they can to make a perceived threat go away. As a parent, there are a number of steps you can take to ensure your family pet and your child develop a harmonious and safe relationship. In this blog, we look at the four basic steps of animal and child safety.
Teach your child how to be safe around pets
Safe behaviour around animals as well as the knowing the signs of an upset animal are both valuable skills which can be taught very early on.
Children should be taught:
- To leave sleeping and eating dogs alone
- To recognise the signs of an aggressive or upset dog (lifted lips, growling, staring, raised hair)
- To ask pet owners for permission before interacting with a new dog
- When approached by an unfamiliar dog, to stand completely still ‘like a tree’ with arms by their sides, hands in a fist, and not to make eye contact
- To pat a dog gently along the back and sides
- To avoid roughhousing
- To never get between two fighting dogs
Children should be taught
- To recognise the signs of an upset cat (swishing tail, raised hair, hissing, swiping)
- To leave sleeping and eating cats alone
- To pat rather than pick up the cat
Children should be taught:
- To never tap the cage or stick objects in it
Children should be taught:
- To hold the pet securely but gently
- Not to pull hair or drop the animal from a height
- Not to rattle or stick things into the cage
Reinforce basic hygiene around animals
Good hygiene should be practised around pets at every age. Teach your children to wash their hands with soap every time they touch a pet, it’s food or it’s bedding. Children should be discouraged from going near the litter box or dog poo and parents should regularly clean cages or toileting areas to prevent the spread of bacteria.
Supervise children under the age of five
In Australia, children five years old and younger are the group most likely to sustain injuries from pets (particularly dogs) so during these first five years, children should always be supervised when around a dog or separated from them if supervision is not possible. Other supervision tips to keep in mind are:
- With birds, it’s best if you hold the bird and have your young child pat it
- Try to handle rabbits/mice and guinea pigs at least 15 minutes a day so the animal gets used to being held and is less likely to scratch or bite
- Keep cages in a common area so you can supervise all interactions
Take precautions to ensure your pet is healthy and well trained
Make sure your family pet is up to date with all of their vaccinations and parasite treatments as some parasites are transferable to humans. In addition to this, dogs who regularly interact with children should have basic obedience training and be able to follow simple commands.
Vets on Parker is a family-focused veterinary clinic in Templestowe dedicated to ensuring your pet has the best possible quality of life. Book an appointment online or call us on (03) 9850 1355.