Blue skies and long, balmy days... summer has arrived! Keep your pets healthy, happy and safe during the warmer months, with our helpful advice.
Try and keep your pets out of the sun during the hottest part of the day – 11am to 3pm.
Aquariums and caged pets should never be left in direct sunlight. Shelter outdoor and caged pets from the sun, in a shady spot under a tree.
Animals with light-coloured noses and white hair are particularly susceptible to sunburn on their ears, noses, stomachs and testicles, and this makes them more prone to skin cancer. Apply a pet or infant sunscreen to vulnerable areas.
Always provide your pets with a constant supply of clean, cool water.
Summer is the moulting season for many pets, so regular grooming is essential, especially if they’re long-haired. Grooming will also help your pet relax and feel more at ease with you, plus it will give you the opportunity to notice any changes in skin or coat condition. Regular brushing stimulates the immune system and helps keep the coat in peak condition.
From late summer to autumn, birds start moulting. It takes a huge amount of energy for a bird to moult its feathers, so make sure you offer a good supply of vegetables during this time.
Fleas are more active during warmer weather. Treat your pet regularly with a formula that not only kills adult fleas, but eggs, larvae and pupae as well. Vacuum your pets’ living areas regularly to help keep fleas at bay.
With a focus on outdoor activities, more pets tend to get lost over summer. Fit your pet with a quality collar and ID tag with your mobile number on it and have it microchipped.
If you’re taking your pet travelling, make sure you have plenty of cool water by storing it in a chilly bin. Make regular stops to let your pet stretch its legs and go to the toilet. If you have to transport your pet in a cage, make sure there is adequate ventilation in the car.
If you’re leaving your pet in the care of a friend, neighbour or pet-sitter, leave written instructions, plus contact details for yourself and your vet in case of an emergency. If your pet is staying in a boarding facility, book well in advance and ensure you keep its vaccinations up-to-date.
It’s important for pets to have access to fresh water at all times, especially during summer. Ensure you thoroughly clean their bowls or bottles regularly to prevent a build-up of bacteria on them. Here are some other things to consider as well:
Because they drink more in summer, have water available both inside and outside. You may wish to invest in a self-watering system for your dog or cat.
Cats and dogs need to drink more if you feed them dry food.
Place indoor water bowls on a plastic mat that is easy to wipe down to protect your floor from spills.
Choose glazed ceramic or stainless steel water bowls for dogs, as they are hard to tip over, chew-proof and can be easily cleaned. Give puppies a heavy bowl so that they don’t pick it up and play with it.
Where possible, don’t let your dog drink water from puddles, as the water may contain parasites and chemicals.
Carry a supply of water with you when you take your dog for a long walk to prevent dehydration.
For small critters such as rabbits, guinea pigs, rats and mice, provide water in stainless steel sipper bottles – if you use plastic bowls, they may chew them. Place in the shade and not over their food dish, as water drips may spoil their food.
Some birds defecate or bathe in their water dish, which can put them at risk of infection. If this happens supply your bird with fresh water immediately, or think about switching to a water bottle instead. Provide a separate dish for bathing and remove it when they have finished.
Summer means longer walks, activities and trips in the car or boat with your dog.
Be mindful of the heat when exercising your dog and remember that hot asphalt or sand could burn its paws. Don’t walk your dog during the hottest part of the day – early morning and evening are the best times.
The bush is the perfect place to walk at any time of the day as it is cool and shady with streams for your dog to splash in. Keep your canine on a leash unless it is okay not to and be aware that poison can be put out for possums or rats, although there are usually warning signs.
Swimming pools and the ocean are great places for your dog to cool down in during summer. If he doesn’t swim or you don’t have a pool, let your dog run under the spinkler or provide a shallow paddling pool for it to cool off in.
If you are able to let your dog swim in the sea, remember to rinse off the salt water, as it can tangle and dry out its coat, as well as cause itchy skin.
Never leave your dog in a parked car as the temperature inside the vehicle can rise quickly and potentially cause fatal heat stroke. Animals suffering from heat exhaustion will pant, lie on their side, fail to respond to your voice and be disorientated. You’ll need to act immediately if you suspect your pet has heatstroke – lower their temperature by putting them in a cooler area, dampen them down with a wet towel, give them a drink of cool water and contact your nearest vet.
Include your dog in the family’s holiday plans, as there are some great pet-friendly accommodation choices around New Zealand. Most ferries allow dogs to travel onboard, but may have to sit with them in designated areas.
Use the holidays to teach your pooch a new trick or improve its basic obedience – dogs love to learn and have time spent with them.
Common summer dangers
Take care to keep your pets away from fishing equipment. Hooks lodged in the mouth, nose, throat or intestinal track often require major surgery to remove
When you’re out working in the garden, watch your pets around paints, cleaning products and tools
Many pets have a habit of chewing grass, but this is no cause for alarm. However, some plants can be poisonous to pets, including Deadly Nightshade, Sweet Peas, Rhubarb leaves, Azaleas, Jasmine and Oleander, while Wandering Jew causes a nasty rash. If you’re unsure about what to plant in your garden, ask your vet for advice
Barbecued steak and sausages are a summertime favourite, but meat defrosting in the sink or on the kitchen bench is tempting for cats and dogs. Your pet could consume plastic, foil or packaging along with your dinner – a potentially fatal meal
Drowning is a risk for pets as well as people. If you have a swimming pool, ensure it’s securely fenced, and consider investing in a cover or Skamper-Ramp to prevent animals falling in.