As a public service to Pet Insurance Australia (PIA), iTWire decided to remind our tech-savvy furry friend lovers that a smart home or a smart car may not be the safest for our loved ones.
The message from PIA is about common sense – if it is too hot for us, it is too hot for someone in a fur coat! I have a bitter experience where a furry friend was almost blanched on a thermostat-controlled, heated bathroom floor. If something is too hot for the back of your hand it is too hot for a dog to walk on.
Dr. Merrin Hicks, emergency and critical care specialist and national manager at The Animal Referral Hospital, understands the importance of reminding Australians of the dangers of hot cars. “People need to remember that dogs are not people! They need to pant to cool down; they need water to keep their airways moist, and they need us to keep them away from danger.”
That includes your car where ambient temperatures can double or treble inside in as little as 20 minutes. Leaving a window partially open does not help.
“If you are unsure about how quickly your car can heat up, test yourself. Sit in your car on a warm day with the windows slightly cracked, and you will see how quickly you become uncomfortable… for a dog, this can be life-threatening. Dogs die in warm cars, and will very quickly succumb to the detrimental effects of heatstroke” says Nadia Crighton from PIA.
Crighton adds, “In 2012 we had a total of 21 claims for heatstroke, in 2016 (to date), we have had a total of 159 claims … we can clearly see an increase from year to year.”
Education and understanding are the keys to preventing heatstroke in dogs, particularly when it comes to cars.
“When people understand how quickly this can all happen they will be much more likely to leave the dog at home when needing to attend to activities that will see their dog left in the car," said Crighton.
During summer pet owners are urged to take extra care when it comes to keeping their pets cool and comfortable.
- Feel how hot the footpath is before you walk your dog. If it is too hot for the back of your hand, it is too hot for your dog to walk on.
- Have plenty of water available and keep water in the shade and out of heat-transferring containers like steel bowls. Plastic and ceramic are best.
- Freeze water-filled containers for some giant ice-cube summer fun. Add some of your pet’s food to the water for extra enticement.
- Walk your dog in the cool part of the day and take your dog some water.
- If you suspect your dog is overheating or showing signs of distress after being exposed to heat, or over exercised seek veterinary treatment immediately.
And to finish on a bad pun – PIA offers a 21-day cooling off period!