SPCA New Zealand

Animal welfare concerns heat up over summer

24 December 2019
Animal welfare concerns heat up over summer

As the weather heats up and Christmas draws closer, SPCA urges pet owners to be mindful of their furry friends during the summer holidays.

With temperatures continuing to climb, SPCA is receiving calls every day from people around the country worried about pets and animals who are doing it tough in the hotter months. A quarter of all animal welfare complaints to SPCA during summer are in relation to protecting animals from heat stress.

“This year, I’m urging New Zealanders to take more care of their animals and protect them during the hotter months. In the summer of 2018/19 we fielded 1,787 animal welfare complaints related to conditions likely to cause animals’ heat stress,” says Andrea Midgen, SPCA CEO.

Here are SPCA’s best tips to help pets avoid feeling overwhelmed during these hotter months.

Hot hours

The sun is at its fiercest between 10am and 4pm, so be extra vigilant with your pet between these times, and ensure they have plenty of water!


All animals, from traditional pets to livestock, need to have adequate shelter that protects them from the weather, including sun, wind, rain.


Pets should always have clean water that is in a shady spot. Most pets also like large bowls and some animals, particularly cats, can find drinking out of small containers unpleasant.

Paws for thought

Check if the ground is a safe temperature for your pet to walk on by holding the back of your hand on the pavement or sand for five seconds – if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pet!

Never leave your dog in a hot car

Never leave your dog in a car, always take them with you, or leave them at home. SPCA Inspectors have the right to hand out infringement notices and fines to people if their dog becomes heat stressed in a hot car. Bystanders worried about dogs trapped in hot cars should call the police or SPCA immediately.


Skin cancer can occur commonly in dogs and cats (particularly if they are fair-skinned or light-haired), so your pet needs a pet-friendly sunblock applied every three to four hours to areas of their body that have no, or little, hair-covered spots. (Image above, Tin Tin the cat got sunburnt ears, resulting in partial amputation to remove his cancers).


If you find an animal suffering from heat stroke, move it immediately into shade or an air conditioned area, and offer a small amount of lukewarm water to drink. Spray or soak the animal’s neck, abdomen and inner thighs in lukewarm water, and then take them to a vet as soon as possible.

Protect from summer viruses, worms, fleas

Ensuring yourdog is up-to-date on vaccinations means they will be safe when out and about this summer. Be sure to keep on top of flea and worm treatments for all your pets, as parasites are more prevalent in warmer weather.

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