With temperatures forecasted to reach the highest of the year so far this week, leading animal welfare charity, Battersea, is offering tips and tricks to keep your pets healthy and happy during the warmer weather.
Claire Turner, Senior Veterinary Surgeon at Battersea, said: “With temperatures set to hit over 25C this week across many parts of the south, there is lots for us humans to look forward to. However, with warmer weather comes dangers for our pets like heat exhaustion, so it’s important to keep your pets safe with simple tricks like providing them with plenty of water options and shady spots. Many pets start to struggle when temperatures hit around the mid-twenties, but for popular Brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds such as Pugs and French Bulldogs, breathing difficulties can become a problem at temperatures as low as 20C.
“Following Battersea’s useful tips, owners can ensure their dogs and cats are safe whilst enjoying the sunny weather, from finding ways to use up their energy that are less strenuous to knowing the signs of heat stroke and not worrying if your dog misses a few days of exercise. Most importantly, if your pet seems unwell as a result of the heat, seek veterinary advice urgently.”
Battersea’s top tips for keeping your pet safe in hot weather:
TIP 1 – CARE WITH WALKS
If the weather is hot AVOID WALKING YOUR DOG. Dogs are less able to cope than humans in the heat. Even a warm day can cause dogs to overheat, especially if exercising. Therefore, if the weather is warm consider if your dog may be safer going for a gentle walk very early or late in the evening, when the temperature has significantly reduced, or do some stimulating activities at home (see Tip 7). Be mindful of the weather when planning a walk, take regular breaks in the shade and offer your dog water.
TIP 2 – PLENTY OF WATER
Water is essential for your pets all year round, especially on a hot day. If you’re out and about with your dog, make sure you always have a bottle of water and a bowl for them to drink from. Ensure cats have constant access to fresh water and provide multiple water options, including an outdoor source will give your cat plenty of options for hydrating
TIP 3 – NEVER LEAVE PETS IN CARS
Leaving an animal alone in a hot car can be fatal – even parked in the shade with the windows open, dogs can become distressed and uncomfortable and develop heat stroke very quickly. Make sure you always have a plan, so your pet isn’t left alone in the car or any other enclosed spaces. If you see an animal in a hot car, dial 999.
You should avoid travelling in your car with your pet on a hot day. If you do need to travel, make sure that you use shade covers on the windows, so they don’t have direct sun on them whilst you are travelling. If possible cool your car down and have the air conditioning on before putting your pet in. Avoid travelling at hotter times of the day and consider travelling when there is less traffic, so you don’t get stuck for long periods of time. Ensure your pet has access to water throughout the journey – there are some great non-splash travel bowls available on the market.
TIP 4 – KEEP YOUR PET COOL AT HOME
There are many additional ways you can help your dog or cat to stay cool in hot weather, you can:
· Encourage them to stay in shaded areas and away from direct sunlight
· Put down cold damp towels for them to lie on if they choose
· Put a garden sprinkler on in shaded garden areas for dogs
· Keep a paddling pool in the shade for dogs to gently splash about in
· You can purchase cooling mats and coats from our shop
· Try out some tasty frozen pet-friendly recipes like ice lollies. Using natural ingredients, pet ice lollies are not only a delicious way to help your pet in the heat but a nutritious snack, too
· For your cat, try freezing the water from a can of tuna along with a few tuna flakes for your them to lick
TIP 5 – PROTECT YOUR PET’S PAWS FROM HOT SURFACES
Surfaces which heat up in the sun, such as tarmac or sand, can be painful for your pet’s paws and can cause burns in extreme heat. If in doubt, check for yourself. If it feels too hot for you to touch, the chances are your pet is thinking the same, so try to stick to grassy or shaded areas for dog walks instead and make sure if you have a cat that goes outside to ensure they have free access to come indoors if they want.
TIP 6 – USE UP THEIR ENERGY IN DIFFERENT WAYS
In warmer weather it’s a good idea to find ways to use up your pet’s mental and physical energy which are less strenuous. For example, if they usually like to run for hours at a time this could be detrimental in hotter temperatures. Instead, you could hide their toys or treats in a small area and let them sniff them out, or you could freeze their food or use frozen treats in food puzzle toys to keep them stimulated. You could also use toys or treats to encourage your dog to spend some time in a shaded paddling pool or for your cat to spend time in a shaded cooler area. Whatever activities you choose, make sure they are calm and out of the heat.
TIP 7 – SWIMMING
It can be tempting to encourage your dog to swim, especially when the weather is warmer. Be mindful that some places can be unsafe, have strong currents that can be dangerous or algae and bacteria which could make your dog sick.
Instead, try to find clear, clean shallow streams your dog can paddle in briefly to cool off, ensure you provide them with clean water in a water bowl for them to drink and continue with your walk in the coolest parts of the day.
TIP 8 – SUNCREAM
Just like humans, dogs and cats are at risk of burning in the sun if they’re not properly protected – this is especially prominent in lightly coloured or thin coated dogs and cats. Cats can develop skin cancer from sun burns, even on cloudy days. Specially formulated sun cream for dogs and cats is available in most pet shops and should be applied to sun-sensitive areas of their bodies such as the end of the nose and tips of the ears. If you are not sure whether your pet needs sun cream, ask your vet for advice.
TIP 9 – MOST IMPORTANTLY, LOOK OUT FOR SIGNS OF HEAT STROKE
Dogs – Dogs suffer with heatstroke when they overheat. This can happen in warm temperatures, as well as when it is hot. It is important to know how to avoid it and be aware of the signs as it requires URGENT VETERINARY TREATMENT. Heatstroke develops when a dog can’t reduce their body temperature and it can be fatal.
Any dog can develop heatstroke, but overweight, young, elderly, flat-faced, giant-breed, and thick-coated dogs are particularly at risk, even from just sitting out in hot weather.
Signs of heatstroke:
· Heavy panting
· Staggering/loss of coordination/disorientation/confusion
· Excessive salivation/drooling/foaming at the mouth
If you think your dog has heatstroke, you need to ACT FAST.
Make sure you contact your vet immediately if you suspect your dog has heatstroke.
While contacting the vets:
· Move the dog to a shaded and cool area
· Keep them calm and still
· Put them on top of a cool wet towel or place them in the breeze of a fan
· Allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool water
· Pour cool (not cold to avoid shock) water over the dogs feet, ears and head.
· Gradually start to move cool water over their body but not too much that they start shivering.
· If possible, continue cooling your dog on the way to your vet
** Never use ice or very cold water as this can cause shock **
Cats – Cats can develop skin cancer from sun burns, even on cloudy days. Keep an eye on your cats’ behaviour and know the signs of heatstroke. If your cat is displaying odd behaviour or you notice any skin changes during hot days, contact your vet immediately. Signs of heatstroke in cats include:
· Stretching out and breathing rapidly
· Extreme distress
· Skin hot to the touch
· Glazed eyes
· Vomiting and drooling
For more advice on how to keep your dogs and cats cool in the summer heat, please visit: https://www.battersea.org.uk/pet-advice