Summertime with pets

summertime with pets

If you love summer, then chances are your pet will too. Dr Jo Righetti offers her expert tips on how to keep your pets cool in the heat, take them on holiday or simply soak up the summertime with pets at home.

Hot hounds and cool cats

Summer in Australia can be hot. Imagine how hot it can feel when you have a fur coat on!

When the temperature soars, our pets need access to cooler areas within our home and garden. Some things you can do to help your pet stay cool:

  • Provide areas out of the sun, preferably with a cool breeze passing through. A shady spot under trees is ideal.
  • Install a cat flap or doggy door to give your pet the option of being indoors or out.
  • Keep your pets indoors and the air conditioning or a fan on during really hot spells.
  • Keep bird cages, fish tanks and other small animal houses away from direct sunlight. Birds may enjoy a spray of cool water.
  • Provide plenty of cool drinking water, in several bowls, in case one gets knocked over. Freeze one bowl or add ice cubes to keep the water cool all day.
  • Freeze some treats or stock and provide ‘ice blocks’ for your dog.
  • Provide a pool for your dog to lounge about in or at least dip their paws.
  • Avoid walking your dog in the middle of the day. Stick to cooler morning walks and stay off hot surfaces. Dogs can burn their paws.

When pets get overheated, heatstroke can strike. The signs of heatstroke in pets include listlessness, vomiting or drooling, licking fur (cats), panting heavily or difficulty breathing and seizures.

If your pet has heatstroke offer water, dampen their coat and take your pet to the vet.

Signs of heatstroke in pets

  • Listlessness
  • Vomiting or drooling
  • Licking fur (cats)
  • Panting heavily or difficulty breathing
  • Seizures

Did you know?

In NSW and ACT alone, the NRMA rescue up to 1500 pets trapped in hot cars each year. Never leave your pet in a hot car. Cars heat up very quickly in summer. Pets can die in as little as 6 minutes.

We’re all going on a summer holiday

Taking your pets on holiday can be tremendous fun! It does, however, take some planning.

Choose pet-friendly locations and ensure that there is somewhere safe to leave your pet if they cannot accompany you to local restaurants or parks. Take regular breaks when travelling and check their microchip and registration details are up to date, just in case they go missing. Cats should always be transported in carry cases and dogs securely fastened in vehicles. Travelling by air may require months of advanced planning.

Keeping your pet on their regular diet will help prevent any stomach upsets. Keeping their medication up to date is also important, including flea, tick and heartworm, as no holiday host will welcome your pet’s parasites and mosquitoes, so prevalent in summer, may increase the risk of heartworm. Other items your pet may appreciate when away from home include their bed, bowls, leads and toys. You don’t want them chewing up your holiday house!

Summer fun

Most of us have a little extra time in summer due to festive holidays, school breaks and a general feeling of relaxation. Your pets will appreciate being included in your summer fun. Some summertime fun pursuits include:

  • A trip to the seaside to let your dog jump the waves and paddle in the shallow water. Check that the beach is dog friendly.
  • If you have a swimming pool at home, train your animals to enjoy a swim. Guide them gently into the water and show them the exit. Most cats and some dogs dislike swimming in pools, so ensure you go gradually.
  • Providing a pet’s paddling pool can be a great alternative to a larger body of water. Why not get in with your pet? This is sure to encourage them to enter the water!
  • Try a new hobby together. Dock diving, where your dog jumps into a pool can be fun and help your dog stay cool.
  • If you’d rather have a more relaxing summertime, then simply curl up with your pet in the cool shade. Read a book and even read out loud to your dog. Yes, believe it or not, dogs enjoy being read to. You could try this with your cat too, but no guarantee that they’ll be impressed!


Dr Jo Righetti

Dr Jo Righetti is an animal behaviour consultant who helps people understand pets and the human-animal relationship. Her website has lots of advice on pets. Dr Jo is a proud Ambassador of Assistance Dogs Australia.


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Alana Lowes
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