Take care of pets this summer

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IT’S not just us humans we need to consider when it comes to dealing with hot weather.

Our feathered, furred and finned friends also feel the heat, but there are some easy steps we can take to make sure they are not in distress.

According to the RSPCA, overheating can cause animals to suffer heatstroke, which can lead to organ failure and even death.

Pets that are elderly, overweight or suffering from a medical condition are particularly susceptible to heatstroke; so too are dogs with flat faces such as pugs, French bulldogs and English bulldogs.

Here are a few tips to keep pets cool this summer:

- Don’t walk your dog during the heat of the day – go in the early morning or evening to prevent your pup from dehydrating or burning its paws on hot pavement or asphalt. Test concrete surfaces with the “five second rule” – place the back of your hand on the surface for five seconds and if it’s too hot for you, then it’s too hot for your dog.

- Never leave a pet (or child!) alone in a car or ute, even with windows down or if parked in the shade. Dogs on the back of utes can also burn their footpads or bodies on the trays.

- Pets must have access to shade and clean, fresh water. Extra water sources are worthwhile just in case one gets knocked over.

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- A clam shell pool in the shade filled with water provides somewhere for dog to wade in the water to keep cool. (But remember to be pool safe if there are children around.)

- Alternatively, try wetting your pet’s feet and misting water onto its face. This is an option for dogs, cats, ferrets, poultry and caged birds; many animals control their inner temperature through their feet. However, don’t saturate a bird's feathers as this can cause shock.

- If you are able, on really hot and humid days bring pets inside. They will appreciate air-conditioning, fans or open windows.

- Little pets should be in the shade at all hot times. Because rabbits, birds, guinea pigs, rats, mice and ferrets are often kept in cages or hutches, they’re not always able to seek out cooler places themselves. Remember that the sun moves, so enclosures need to be moved too.

Drape their cage with wet towels and provide a sturdy icepack or frozen water bottle for the animal to lean against so it can to regulate its own body temperature.

If possible, little pets can be left to free run in a laundry or bathroom, where they will benefit from the cool tiles.