Hot Weather Help: Keeping your pets safe

DrPaul -

Hot Weather Help: Keeping your pets safe

Now I’m never one to complain about the glorious sunny weather that we rarely see in the UK, but the rise in temperature comes with a warning for our furry pets. As humans it’s easy to forget that our cats and dogs are wearing a fur coat all year around and do not have the option of removing layers to keep themselves cool.

So it’s up to us as pet owners to make sure our four legged friends stay safe in the heat. Here’s some top tips for when the mercury starts to rise:

· The most important rule! NEVER leave your dog (or cat if visiting the vets) in a car EVER! Not even if it’s for a short period of time or your car’s in the shade. A car can become as hot as an oven very quickly, even when it doesn't feel that warm outside. Even with outside temperatures of 22 degrees it can reach a dangerous and life threatening temperature within a few minutes.
· Conservatories, greenhouses and rooms with large windows can be just as dangerous so make sure your pets don’t get shut in and can escape to shaded areas of the house.
· DON’T walk your dog in the hottest parts of the day. In fact when it’s sweltering, you should only walk dogs at sunrise and sunset.
· Sun cream! Yep our furry friends need to be protected too. Dogs and cats will benefit by having sun cream applied-especially on areas with little or white fur.
· If you cannot walk barefoot on the pavement without it burning the soles of your feet then your dog cannot either. Pads can burn like ordinary skin so this is another reason not to walk your dog when temperatures soar.
· Remember certain breeds are far more prone to suffering from the heat. The brachycephalic breeds (aka squashed face breeds) such as pugs, bulldogs and pekes are at a much higher risk of overheating so extra care is required.
· Provide a cool shaded area within the home that your pet can retreat too. A fan or a cool damp towel is great for dogs to lie on and will help them cool off. Ice cubes in water bowls or frozen treats are also a welcome addition to hot sunny days.

If your pet is showing signs of heat stress:

Our pets do not sweat like we do and their way of regulating their body temperature is to pant. If you are concerned or suspect your dog or cat has overheated it is vital to act quickly.
Immediately try to cool your pet down by providing them with cool water, a cool damp towel to lay on and direct an oscillating fan in their direction. It is important to never drape damp towels over your pet as this will actually reflect heat back on to them and potentially make the situation worse. You can gently sponge them down with cool water, paying particular attention to their shoulders, armpits, between the hind legs, ears and paws.
Never immerse them in a cold bath as this sudden drop of temperature can induce shock. You are aiming to bring their temperature down over 30 - 60 minutes.

If symptoms persist or worsen and your pet is showing no signs of returning to normal contact your vets and get them checked out as soon as possible.

Paul Manktelow

Veterinary Surgeon

Dr Paul Manktelow is a vet who's worked for almost 20 years on the front line in some of the UK's busiest veterinary hospitals. Paul also appears regularly in the media as a TV and radio presenter, writer, public speaker and podcast producer.