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Billy Hobbs from Craig’s Bird Place and Pet Shop in South Grafton recommends pet owners purchase cooling mats to help their animals beat the heat this summer. Image: Emma Pritchard.

Beat the heat the cool way

Emma Pritchard |

They can’t ask you for a drink of water or to turn on the air conditioning.
And they can’t tell you if they’re feeling hot either.
With temperatures continuing to climb as summer makes its presence felt across the Clarence Valley, pet owners are being encouraged to take additional precautions to ensure their beloved furry and feathered friends stay safe and cool during the heat of the day.
Providing extra water, limiting exercise to the cooler parts of the morning and evening and ensuring animals always have access to plenty of shade are all important, regardless of whether you have cats or dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs or birds.
Pet owners are also warned to never leave animals in the car, even with the air conditioning running.
Older pets, younger animals and those with pre-existing health conditions are more prone to heatstroke and should be monitored closely as the mercury rises.
Billy Hobbs, shop assistant at Craig’s Bird Place and Pet Shop in South Grafton said it is the responsibility of pet owners to protect their animals and guard them against heatstroke.
“Animals can’t communicate verbally, they can’t tell you if they’re getting too hot, but they can show you,” he said.
“It’s important to know the first signs of dehydration and heat stress.
“Dogs will pant quite a lot and very rapidly and they’ll also show signs of looking tired and weak if they’re feeling the heat.
“Other smaller animals like cats and rabbits will show really lethargic behaviour, they won’t move around a lot and they will look for cool, dark places to hide.
“Animals should always have access to fresh, cool water, especially when it’s hot because they can get affected by the heat very quickly.”
One of the best products Mr Hobbs recommends pet owners should have during the summer months is a cooling mat.
Available in a range of sizes, cooling mats are filled with a non-toxic cooling gel which doesn’t require water, refrigeration or electricity to activate.
They can be used on any surface and work by absorbing an animal’s body heat and dissipating it back into the air through evaporation from the areas of the cooling mat which are not in use.
“They’re such a great product,” Mr Hobbs said.
“They’re safe, non-toxic and they’re also hygienic and very easy to clean.
“Lots of animals can use them, they aren’t just for cats or dogs and they do a great job at keeping pets cool.”
Cooling mats are currently in stock at Craig’s Bird Place and Pet Shop and start from $20 according to size.
If your pet does suffer from heatstroke, immediately move them to a cooler area and apply cold towels to their body while giving them small amounts of water to drink or ice cubes to lick.
If your pet is showing signs of distress, contact your local veterinary clinic straight away.

How to tell if your pets are suffering heat stress:

·         Excessive panting (dogs).

·         Sunken eyes.

·         Dry (sticky) gums which look pale instead of pink and moist.

·         No or little interest in food.

·         Lethargic behaviour and weakness.

·         If the skin takes a long time to lower after it is gently pulled up in a tent shape, the animal is suffering dehydration.