BEAT THE HEAT: Jay-nee Ralph from the Gympie RSPCA Cools off with Xena yesterday.
BEAT THE HEAT: Jay-nee Ralph from the Gympie RSPCA Cools off with Xena yesterday. Tom Daunt

Don't let your pet die in extreme heat

AS THE region swelters through an oppressive heatwave, Gympie's RSPCA Animal Care Centre manger Vanessa Richardson is urging residents to be aware of heatstroke symptoms in their animals, with dogs locked in cars the most vulnerable to the deadly condition.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, Gympie will hit 38C with 74 percent humidity today, which is 8C hotter than the February average.

Tomorrow will see temperatures reach 34C in the region with the weekend slightly cooler on 32C.

Mrs Richardson said hot weather inevitably brought an increase in calls for service, particularly for animals who had been kept in confined spaces like vehicles.

"We do see a spike in calls relating to animals trapped in cars and animals suffering from heat stress,” she said.

"We also get concerned calls from members of the public, particularly related to animals being without shelter and adequate water in their owner's care.”

RSPCA research shows that even when parked in the shade, a vehicle's inside temperature can exceed 40C.

At least 75 percent of the temperature increase in a closed vehicles occurs within five minutes of closing it, and at least 89 percent of the temperature increase occurs within 15minutes of closing it.

Mrs Richardson said animals suffered immeasurably in hot vehicles and could die before the temperature reached 55C inside a car.

"In the hot weather people don't think how quickly animals can get into emergency situations,” she said.

"It is so quick to get so hot.”

Animals left on the back of utes without shade and water are also defenceless against heat stroke, as are dogs who are left unattended outside the car or a building.

Mrs Richardson said it was the responsibility of owners to monitor their pets.

"Domestic animals have a lot less options,” she said.

"If they are confined to a yard or tethered or kept in a confined space, they don't have the options wild animals do to seek their own shelter and find the best place to cool themselves down.”

Heat stroke symptoms can include increased panting, redness of the gums and eyes as well as distressed and frantic behaviour.

Mrs Richardson said it was crucial to plan ahead in order to avoid your pet suffering from the heat.

"Definitely think ahead,” she said.

"You know these days are going to be hot.

"Obviously provide things for your animals so during the day when you are out they can cool themselves down.

"We provide things like water pools for dogs that they can bathe in to cool themselves down. Obviously they can't sweat to release heat so they need to cool themselves down in water.”

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