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Keeping your pets cool during the heatwave

24th July 2019
Posted by Johnny Jenkins

The RSPCA is bracing itself for a surge in calls about animals in need as a heatwave sweeps across England & Wales this week. 

Temperatures are expected to hit the mid 30s this week so animal welfare experts and vets are urging pet owners to keep their animals safe and asking the public to take care of wildlife. 

RSPCA vet Dr Michael Lazaris said: “It’s really important to take extra care of our pets during the hot weather as heat exhaustion is a life-threatening condition. Prevention is much better than a cure so try to keep your pets indoors or in a cool, shaded area when the temperatures are hitting 30C and higher. 

“If your pet slows down, looks dazed, drools or pants excessively, vomits or even has a seizure then please speak to a vet as soon as possible as these are all symptoms of heatstroke.

“If your pet is elderly, overweight or has ongoing health problems or problems caused by extreme breeding – such as flat-faced dogs – then they can feel the effects of the heat more quickly so please keep that in mind.”

Top tips for cool cats and hot dogs

☀️ Don’t let your pet get sunburnt – use pet-safe sun cream.

☀️ Ensure animals have access to shade and fresh drinking water at all times.

☀️ Check every day for flystrike.

☀️ Keep fish tanks out of direct sunlight and top up water levels of ponds. 

☀️ Keep an eye out for wildlife when using lawnmowers or strimmers.

☀️ Keep pesticides out of reach of animals. 

☀️ Buy a cooling mat, wrap an ice pack or frozen water bottle in a tea towel, or use damp towels for your pet to lie on.

☀️ Use cold treats from the fridge or make an ice lolly from pet-friendly ingredients.

☀️ Freeze your dog’s water bowl or kong, or add ice cubes to your pet’s bowl. 

☀️ Fill a paddling pool or spray a hose for your dog to play in but always supervise around water. 

☀️ Some exotic pets such as snakes and tortoises are good escape artists so check vivariums are secured and take care if allowing reptiles to exercise or bask out in the garden. 

RSPCA animal welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said:

“With the summer holidays under way, lots of families will be heading off on holiday or planning days out with the whole family – and this might include Fido. 

“During the hot weather we’d urge pet owners to think twice before taking their dog out with them as they can really struggle out and about during the heat so often it’s best to leave them at home in the cool.

“If you’ll be out in the sun all day at a festival or show, or if you’re planning a long walk or run, please leave your furry friend at home with somewhere cool to go. It can be hard enough for us in the heat and it’s much more difficult for them.”

During the day

☀️ Dogs and horses need exercise, even when it’s hot. But you should avoid exercising them in excessively hot weather. Our experts advise walking or riding in the morning or evening when it’s cooler. 

☀️ When walking dogs keep in mind that pavements can get very hot in the warm weather – if it’s too hot to touch with your hand, then it’s too hot for a dog’s paws.

☀️ Never leave pets in vehicles, caravans, conservatories or outbuildings in the warm weather. Dogs – and other pets – can overheat and die if left in a hot environment, such as a car or shed.

☀️ Snakes are most active in June and July so don’t be alarmed if you see one in the wild. Most tend to shy away from people.

☀️ Transportation of farm animals in hot weather should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. 

At night

🌙 If horses or livestock are housed during hot weather, buildings must be adequately ventilated and monitored regularly. 

🌙 Ensure your pets can access a cool room at night – like a kitchen with a cool, tiled floor to lie on – so they can cool themselves down. 

🌙 Provide a cool stream of air by keeping windows open or using a fan.

🌙 Put out shallow dishes of water and food for wildlife who may be struggling in the hot weather due to dried up streams and hard ground. 

Image: RSPCA