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Beat the heat - tips on helping your pet stay happy and healthy this summer


As we enter into the hot summer months, it is important to remember that this season can present some challenges and problems to your animals. Here are our tips on helping your pet stay happy, healthy and cool this summer.

SummerSafety mailchimp tiles 1Take extra care while exercising your pet

Exercising in the scorching sun and during the hottest hours of the day can be dangerous for your pet. It is important you exercise your pet early in the morning or in the evening throughout the summer months as these are the coolest times of day and your pet is less likely to overheat.

Avoid long and strenuous walks on hot, sunny days and steer clear of prolonged sun exposure. Take your pets to an area that has grass, is shady and cool, and where they can’t over exert themselves. Make sure you pay attention to your pet’s needs too. If they want to lie down, or only have a short walk, then stop!

Dogs with flat faces, such as bulldogs and pugs, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot breathe or pant as effectively as dogs with longer noses.  Take extra care with dogs of these breeds when exercising in the summer.

Having fresh water available for your pet is essential all year-round, but even more important when it’s hot outside. Bring a dog-friendly water bottle along with you when you’re out walking or playing in the park, and always ensure that there is fresh water available for all animals after exercising.

If you exercise your rabbits or guinea pigs in your garden, or in an outdoor play pen this summer, make sure they have adequate shade. It is also important they have plenty of water, and also a frozen icepack, or a wet tea towel to keep them cool if it is hot.

SummerSafety mailchimp tiles 2Tips to keep your pet cool

Your pet can heat up quickly and this can result in heat exhaustion that can be fatal. Keep an eye out for excessive panting, breathing difficulties, weakness, or drooling. To avoid this, make sure your animals always have access to fresh drinking water and adequate shelter for protection (keep the sun’s moving shadow in mind) for protection.

There are also some other tricks to keep your pet cool this summer!


Dogs aren’t very good at keeping themselves cool. Every dog is different when it comes to dealing with heat. Overweight dogs, dogs with short or flat noses, long-haired breeds, young puppies, old dogs and those dogs who are sick tend to struggle more so take extra care with them. Dogs also respond differently to heat than people do. For example, they sweat primarily through their feet, so attention to their paws is important.
  • You can half fill a shallow children’s pool for your dog to bathe in, just make sure your dog can get in and out easily.
  • Put ice cubes in an indoor bowl, and freeze a big block of ice for your dog’s outdoor bowl.
  • Doggie ice blocks are also a great way to give your dog a treat on a hot day and to keep your dog Just freeze your dog’s favourite treat in water, inside a Kong, or an ice-cream container to make one!
  • You can find cooling mats at most pet stores. These can be used as crate liners, or as beds and can be helpful for other animals too.


Cats quite enjoy the warm weather, but they still need to keep cool like any other animal. They will naturally gravitate towards a cool floor to lie down on if they are hot, so make sure there are some of these areas are available in your home. Don’t worry if they are particularly sleepy during the summer – cats will sensibly nap even more on a hot day, rather than moving around and getting hotter.

  • Cats tend to prefer their water to be placed away from their food. It is important your cat is keeping hydrated, so if you are noticing they aren’t drinking from their water bowl, make sure it is situated away from where they eat. Some cats prefer running water, you can get a variety of pet water fountain which will encourage them to drink more.
  • You can place ice water in glasses and bowls around the house. Cats are notorious for drinking out of any water glass they find!
  • Stroking your cat with a damp cloth is a great way to keep them cool (if they allow it!). The best places to attend to are their paws, bellies and outside of their ears.
  • Make sure to brush your cat regularly. Matted fur works as insulation, and will mean your cat can over heat more easily. If you have a long-haired cat and decide to shave them, leave at least a full inch of fur to help prevent sunburn.
Small animals

Small animals are particularly vulnerable to heat stroke, so it is very important you make sure they aren’t too hot. Here are some things you can do keep them happy and healthy this summer:
  • Relocate your bird, rabbit, guinea pig or any other small animal to a cooler part of your home.
  • Place ice cubes wrapped in a tea towel, a small frozen icepack, or a wet tea towel in their enclosure for them to lean against.
  • Small animals need to stay well hydrated, so fruit and vegetables high in water, such as celery and apples, are a great and delicious way to help them avoid dehydration. Make sure they always have fresh and cool water available also.

SummerSafety mailchimp tiles 3Hot cars can kill

On a warm day, the inside of your car heats up very quickly. On a 30°C day the temperature inside your car can reach 39°C in less than 5 minutes and in 30 minutes it goes up to 49°C. This occurs even in the shade and if your windows are open.

A normal dog’s body temperature is around 38.5°C. Dogs only sweat a small amount through their paws and rely on panting to cool down. In a hot car, even with the windows slightly open, panting is not enough to keep a dog’s body temperature within a safe range. A dog can withstand a body temperature of 41°C for a short amount of time but will quickly suffer irreparable brain damage and then death. Young, overweight or elderly animals, or those with short muzzles or thick, dark-coloured coats are most at risk for overheating.

Please don't leave your dog unattended in a car at any time of the day. If the purpose of your trip is not to take your dog somewhere, please leave your dog at home.

Beware of sunburn

Just like people, animals can also suffer from sunburn! Pets who are fair skinned or light haired, are particularly susceptible to the sun’s harsh rays. Skin cancer can occur commonly in dogs and cats, and even though the fur provides some sun protection, your pet needs a sunblock applied every 3-4 hours on areas of their body that have no, or little, hair covered spots.

The good news is, you can buy pet friendly sunscreen to rub on the tips of their ears, on the end of their nose, and on their stomach – these are the most commonly sunburnt areas. Normal sunscreen ingredients include zinc oxide, which can be toxic to animals, so pet friendly sunscreen is best. 

Remember the 3 second rule

Remember, if the pavement is too hot for you, it is too hot for your pet! Check if it’s a safe temperature by holding the back of your hand on the pavement for three seconds. If it’s too hot to keep your hand there, then your pet shouldn’t be out walking on it. Hot pavements can burn the pads of your pet’s paws, and can leave them sore, blistering and red.

SummerSafety mailchimp tiles 6Protect your dog from a deadly summer virus

The highly infectious, and often fatal, Canine Parvovirus is a serious health concern year-round. However, this virus usually reaches peak numbers in the spring and summer months so dog owners need to be extra vigilant.

Parvovirus is highly contagious and is transmitted from dog to dog mainly through direct or indirect contact with the faeces of an affected canine. Just taking your dog for a walk down the street, or to the park, can put them at risk of contracting the disease if they are not fully vaccinated.

Symptoms of parvovirus include lethargy, severe vomiting, and bloody diarrhea that results in life-threatening dehydration.

It is essential that you protect your pets by making sure your dog is up to date on vaccinations, and ensure your puppy does not go outside until they have had all the required shots. If you are not sure if your dog is fully vaccinated or you have concerns about their health, contact your veterinarian for advice.

Travelling with your pet

If you are heading on a road trip with your pet this summer, make sure you plan ahead. This will ensure the comfort and safety of everyone in the car, whether two legs or four.

Before setting off on your adventure, take your pet on several short car trips. This is especially important if you want to take your cat away with you, as cats aren’t usually the greatest of travel buddies! Building up your pet’s familiarity with the car and transport will help your pet get used to what’s ahead. During this training period, make sure you head to places which are fun for your pet, rather than just going to places they may not enjoy, like the vet! This approach will help your pet associate car trips with having fun.

A moving animal in a car can also distract or disrupt the driver, which is potentially extremely dangerous. If there is a collision, an unrestrained animal is at risk of injuring themselves, and everyone else in the car too. Having the correct restraints, such as a pet seatbelt or car seat, also prevents your pet from jumping out of the window. You can find both of these at most pet stores.

Remember that while travel or new places is exciting for people, it can be unsettling for your pet. A collar with identity tags is important in case your pet gets lost, and a microchip is vital - it can be the difference between being reunited with your pet, and losing your pet forever.

SummerSafety mailchimp tiles 10Shade is essential for all animals

If you have chickens, dogs, cats, small animals, horses, goats, sheep or cows, they all need to have adequate shelter that protects them from the sun’s harsh rays.

Make sure there are plenty of places for your horses to hide from the heat of the sun to avoid overheating, sunburn and horse flies. Trees are a decent form of shade, but man-made shelters that do not have enclosed sides are also effective.

If you keep your dog outside, it is critical your dog has access to shade. Doghouses are not good shelter during the summer as they can trap heat, and please remember dark coloured dogs absorb more heat than dogs with lighter coats. Tree shade and tarpaulins are ideal because they don’t obstruct air flow.

Make sure your cat has plenty of shade outside, such as trees and bushes. If your cat is looking for shade indoors, close some of your blinds and curtains to provide them with a cool spot of the house to snooze.

If your small animals live outside, you can improve ventilation of their hutch or coop, by putting bricks or something similar underneath which brings it off the ground. Also make sure their hutch or run is in the shade all day by moving it around as the sun moves.

Grooming is helpful too

Maintaining your pet’s grooming regime is important in the summertime. It helps with the high prevalence of parasites, effective temperature regulation, and protection from sunburn. 

Some animals such as dogs with double or woolen coats, or long-haired rabbits and cats, will require consistent grooming, and sometimes might need help from a professional. Regular grooming will also help with matting, which not only can become painful, but will also trap moisture and heat. This is particularly important for dogs who like to swim in the sea, or roll in the sand during the summer.

You may want to give your pet a summer cut to help avoid matting, or to keep your pet cool, but please resist the urge to shave your pet. Your pet’s coat helps to prevent sunburn.

Checking the ears of your cat, rabbit or dog regularly is also important during the summer, particularly if swimming is on your dog’s play list. Dogs whose ears fold over are also prone to ear infections, as well as being a warm and cosy place for fleas, ticks and mites to set up camp.

Amidst your pet’s adventures this summer, they can attract debris between their toes. So make sure you also pay attention to your pet’s paws.

SummerSafety mailchimp tiles 8Send Parasites Packing

They are so tiny you can barely see them, but there is nothing small about the problems they can bring to your household. They make your pet itch like crazy, and can transmit diseases to pets and people. Hookworms, heartworms, fleas and ticks are more prevalent during the summer.

Worms can infest your pet in a number of ways. These include coming into contact with faeces, or areas/objects/food that are contaminated. Some worms can even infest your pet through the pads of their feet.

Ticks can infest your pet by latching onto them when they pass through vegetation such as grassy areas, forests or fields.

Your pets can pick up fleas from the environment, from other animals, and even from people or objects that fleas or their eggs are hitching a ride on. Flea eggs can remain dormant for a very long time, most commonly in the garden, in carpet or furniture inside the house. Approximately 5% of the flea population are adult fleas that you might see on your pet, and the other 95% are present as eggs larvae. Therefore, to effectively control fleas it is essential to control all stages of a flea’s lifecycle.

A bad flea infestation can make dogs and cats, especially puppies and kittens, anemic, because they consume up to 15 times their own weight in your pet’s blood every day. Some animals are especially sensitive to bites and develop flea allergy dermatitis. This skin condition can be incredibly uncomfortable and irritating for your pet, causing intense itching, hair loss, inflamed skin, and self-trauma.

Thankfully, there are many effective parasite control options available to protect your pet and your family from parasites. Just ask your veterinarian for the most appropriate solution for your pet, based on where you live, the risk of different parasites in the area, and your pet’s own individual circumstances.

Rabbits are also susceptible to parasites, especially if they live outside. It is uncommon to use preventative treatments for parasite infestation for rabbits, since many flea treatments only last a very short period of time. So in order to pick up infestations promptly, and treat appropriately with your veterinarian’s advice, you should check your rabbit regularly for mites, fleas and worms. Signs they might have an infestation include hair loss, crusting, redness or scaling of the skin. It is also important you regularly groom your rabbit.





SPCA Prosecution after dog's 'horrific' injuries left untreated for a week


SPCA vs Vole imageMan prosecuted after failing to seek vet treatment for his dog who was hit by a car

 An Auckland man has been sentenced after he failed to seek veterinary treatment for his dog who had been hit by a car and sustained severe leg injuries that left him unable to move. Langi Vole, 20, pleaded guilty in the Manukau District Court to one charge of ill-treatment of an animal. He was sentenced to 150 hours of community work, and ordered to pay reparations to the SPCA of $197.31 and court costs of $60.

Vole was also disqualified from owning animals for two years. The judge took into account Vole’s early guilty plea, lack of previous convictions and youth. The SPCA sought a 10-year disqualification period.

The case began on 28 April 2016 when an SPCA Inspector responded to information regarding a seriously injured dog at an address in Mangere, Auckland. Upon arrival, the Inspector found a brown and white Staffordshire crossbreed male dog named Lemuska.

The SPCA Inspector immediately noticed serious injuries that looked as if the flesh had been torn away from the dog’s legs. Lemuska had open de-gloving wounds on both his lower hind legs exhibited by a large skin and tissue deficit. The wounds were red, had exposed bone, and had debris in them.

Vole said he was the owner of the dog, who had been run over by a vehicle approximately one week prior, resulting in these leg injuries. Vole stated the dog could not use his hind legs and had not received any veterinarian treatment.

The SPCA Inspector immediately took possession of Lemuska in order to provide urgent veterinary treatment.

An SPCA veterinarian examined the dog and assessed him to be in severe pain upon examination. He believed the injuries had occurred between 7 to 10 days prior and the dog had received no veterinary treatment. He further added that the dog’s left hind foot was fractured and irreparable. The veterinarian concluded that since the injuries were left untreated for such a long period of time, the dog suffered moderate to extreme pain and distress from the time of injury to the time he was examined.

Sadly, due to the extent of his injuries and the level of pain and distress he was suffering, the SPCA veterinarian recommended that Lemuska be euthanised on humane grounds.

“This is an absolutely horrific case,” says Andrea Midgen, SPCA New Zealand CEO.

“The Inspector was shocked at the state of injuries and in disbelief that the offender had such an indifferent attitude, showing no concern for his dog.

“To leave a dog in such pain and unable to move or walk is unthinkable. Lemuska was suffering severe and very visible injuries and should have seen a veterinarian immediately after the accident.

“Our pets are completely dependent on their owners for food, shelter, companionship, and treatment if they get injured or fall ill. If you own an animal, it is your responsibility to provide these fundamental things.”


More images available upon request. Please note, these images are extremely graphic.

Duck dies after beak destroyed by fireworks


GRAPHIC CONTENT: A duck left dying after fireworks were thought to have been shoved in its beak is further fuelling calls for a ban on the private sales of fireworks.

The young mallard duck had been dying for around two days according to SPCA Auckland whose inspectors found it alive in the parking lot of Middlemore Hospital on Monday with its beak destroyed from fireworks injuries.

1509961571039SPCA Auckland chief executive Andrea Midgen said they were "completely horrified" at the case, which the organisation's veterinarians say was likely caused by fireworks having been placed in the duck's mouth.

“Recreational cruelty has no place in our society – we are disgusted that someone believes it is acceptable to treat any animal in this way."

"Terrible pain and suffering has been inflicted on an innocent duck and it is important that those responsible for this cruelty are held accountable so it doesn't happen again."

SPCA Auckland said in a statement the only option available to them was to euthanise the animal and end its suffering.

Midgen said the SPCA was in favour of a ban on the private sale of fireworks because of cases like this, which demonstrated the harm they could cause to animals.

"Our aim is to allow people to enjoy controlled public displays only, to avoid causing fear, injury and disruption for animals.”

The New Zealand Veterinary Association has also said it would be in favour of such a ban with chief veterinary officer Helen Beattie saying animals suffered injuries every year from private fireworks and many suffered psychological trauma from the displays.

"Despite human enjoyment, fireworks do not bring a welfare benefit to animals."

SPCA Auckland said it was investigating the incident and encouraged members of the public to call them on (09) 256 7300 with any tips or further information. 

Read the full article here 

SPCA Prosecution: Waharoa woman disqualified from owning animals


CaptureA Waharoa woman was disqualified from owning animals for 5 years by the Hamilton District Court last week for failing to treat the obvious injuries and ailments affecting a range of animals in her care.

Lai Toy was found guilty on several counts of failing to ensure animals in her care received treatment and was sentenced to 300 hours community work and 9 months supervision, including attendance of any programmes recommended by probation. Toy was ordered to pay $2000 reparations, $500 towards legal costs and to forfeit ownership of the two cats currently in the care of SPCA Waikato.

The charges relate to a number of animals examined by SPCA Inspectors and veterinarians at Toy’s Waharoa property between 8 July and 3 August 2015. Several of the animals had to be euthanased to alleviate their suffering. One goat had allegedly been hit by a car and was found by a veterinarian to have a fracture near its front right elbow. Euthanasia was recommended due to the nature of the fracture ruling out the option of treatment, and also in order to address the severe pain being suffered by the goat.

Toy requested and was granted a second veterinary opinion. The second vet agreed with the initial diagnosis and also recommended euthanasia. At this point Toy became uncooperative and hostile, demanded a third veterinary opinion, and ordered the Inspectors to leave. The situation quickly escalated. Due to the behaviour of Toy and her associates, the Inspectors and vet left the property and requested police assistance. When police assistance arrived, the goat was euthanased without further incident.

A cow with an eye injury was also found on Toy’s property but was identified as belonging to Toy’s associate, Billy Tui. Tui was convicted of failing to provide veterinary treatment that alleviated pain or distress being suffered by the cow on September 25, 2017.

Capture3Veterinary examination revealed that the cow had a tumorous growth, consistent with a sun-induced cancer, affecting the lower eyelid, with severe inflammation and infection of the upper and lower eyelids. The vet concluded that the cow would have been in severe pain for weeks. She added that irritation from pain, discharging fluid, and insects would have caused additional distress, and that the poor body condition of the cow indicated prolonged stress. Euthanasia was recommended, as the cow was not a surgical candidate due to the severe tissue damage and poor prognosis.

A black and white domestic short hair cat seized under a search warrant was found by a veterinarian to be underweight and dehydrated, suffering from kidney disease and severe painful dental disease, and displayed obvious lameness when walking. X-rays confirmed two untreated fractures to the right hind leg estimated to have been present for at least eight weeks, possibly longer. The pain experienced by an animal with a limb fracture would be a level of 3–4 out of 4 on the Colorado State University Feline Acute Pain Scale. When the fracture occurred, it would have been obvious that the cat had a serious injury and veterinary treatment should have been provided immediately. Despite every effort, the cat had to be euthanased due to its declining health associated with the kidney disease.

Further cats were seized, three of which were found to be suffering from two forms of oral disease – periodontal (gum) disease and tooth resorption. Since treatment, two of the cats have been under the care of SPCA Waikato and are now available for adoption.

SPCA CEO Andrea Midgen says she is pleased that the sentence includes appropriate treatment and supervision to prevent reoffending.

“With some offenders education doesn’t work and reoffending is highly likely, and we’re pleased this sentence recognises this and is tailored to the offender with the aim of effectively reducing reoffending,” says Ms Midgen.

“Our challenge is securing meaningful sentences for offenders who have unacceptable attitudes or misguided beliefs regarding animal welfare. At the end of the day, we support any measures that give offenders access to appropriate treatment and supervision to prevent reoffending and save innocent animals from harm.”


SPCA List of Shame: Buddy's happy ending


Sean Taylor was installing an ATM at New World Ferry Rd last year when he saw a black three-legged dog being photographed outside. “I saw him out there where I was inside working and I went over and said to them I’d quite like that dog. They took it with a grain of salt but then said he may be up for adoption in a month,” he said.

Buddy the labrador-cross had been living at the SPCA for about a year, and was being photographed as part of a promotion for its annual Cupcake appeal. A year earlier the then five-month-old puppy was brutally beaten by his former owner who was later sentenced to 10 months in jail. Buddy’s leg was broken, and he suffered internal bleeding and bruised lungs in the attack which was recorded by neighbours. Buddy later had his left rear leg amputated.

It was one of 10 animal abuse, neglect and cruelty cases to make the SPCA’s List of Shame on Tuesday. Mr Taylor, a project manager for MTR, said he and wife Chrissy had talked about adopting a dog. It was Buddy’s eyes and gentle nature that drew them in.“You take one look at his eyes and you see right through him,” Mr Taylor said.

Although they knew Buddy was beaten and lost his leg, they avoided the details until his original owner was sentenced. He said it was upsetting to hear. “It added to the overall amazement at just how good he was with people. It just pointed him out to be such a forgiving animal.” In spite of missing a leg, Buddy still walks up to 7km every day, and enjoys the Port Hills and Sumner beach.

Mr Taylor said every now and then he makes Buddy a special meal where he mixes boiled rice, oil, eggs and fresh meat. “He gets to lick the bowl when I’m finished.”PCA Canterbury chief executive Barry Helem said Buddy’s case was “harrowing”, but it had a fantastic outcome. He said the List of Shame raised awareness of what the SPCA dealt with, and a good way to help prevent animal abuse.

Mr Taylor still takes Buddy back to the SPCA to visit. “I called by on Tuesday and Buddy got out of the car and ran 100m because he saw the two girls out the back. He remembers the life he had there.”

Click here to see the full 2017 List of Shame, or read the full article here

Buddy and his new owner