Help limit heatstroke risk

By Madeleine Caccianiga

As temperatures hit 40°C and higher across inland centres, GV Vets Clinic and Hospital is reminding pet owners to take the necessary precautions to keep their animals safe in the heat and keep a watchful eye on local wildlife.

GV Vets vet Frances Jenner said pet owners needed to put themselves in their animals’ shoes.

‘‘I think we have to have a think about if we would be happy sitting where they are sitting,’’ she said.

Ms Jenner said pets needed to have access to plenty of water and shade on hot days.

‘‘They have a great time in the shell pools, so they can have a drink and cool themselves down,’’ she said.

Signs your pet could be suffering from heat stroke include heavy panting, heavy drooling and gums turning to a darker shade of pink.

Ms Jenner said pets most affected by the heat were the smaller animals such as guinea pigs and rabbits, older animals, animals on medications and certain breeds.

‘‘Dogs can’t sweat, so they have to pant to lose heat, so breeds with thicker coats, overweight animals and particularly short-nosed dog breeds need to be looked after.’’

By restricting exercise and walking early in the morning or later in the evening, Ms Jenner said owners could limit the health risks for animals.

‘‘If you’re going to cool an animal off it’s better placing them in warm water to bring their temperature down slowly, as when a dog’s temperature reaches above 40°C their organs begin to fail,’’ she said.

Ms Jenner said providing your pets with frozen treats or cool items such as a frozen milk bottle to lean against was a great way to keep their temperature down.

‘‘We also have to consider the temperature of the footpath and the roads that our pets are walking on and the area they are confined to,’’ she said.

It is not just domestic animals people need to be looking out for, according to Bohollow Wildlife Shelter operator Deb Fowler.

Ms Fowler said putting out water in shallow dishes or water in deep dishes with something such as a rock to help smaller animals climb out would be a great help to the local wildlife.

With wildlife eating dry food at the moment Ms Fowler said water was the most helpful item people could provide for them.

‘‘They normally get moisture out of leaves, grass and native fruit, so providing water in a spot that’s safe from domestic pets is most important,’’ she said.

Ms Fowler stressed the need to call for assistance if people saw an animal acting strangely.

‘‘Contact a shelter then and there; the best thing you can do is take notice of where it came from and let a local shelter assess the situation.’’

For information on heatstroke in animals phone GV Vets Clinic and Hospital on 58781144; or for heatstroke in wildlife phone Bohollow Wildlife Shelter’s Deb Fowler on 0418328671 or Kirsty Ramadan on 0447636953.