Watch their paws
As we would wear shoes when we go out and about in the sun, we might not realise that the ground can get extremely hot. This can be painful for an animal’s sensitive paw pads and their bodies too, which are much lower to the hot pavement. It can be very stressful to a pet and can cause overheating, so the general rule of thumb is if the pavement is hot to your touch then it will be too hot for an animal’s paws. Often grass is cooler, so go for a walk in a field, and take note of our next tip!
When to walk
Gentle exercise in the morning and evening when the temperature is cooler is much better for your dog in the summer months. Zoe advises dog owners to avoid their dogs being outdoors at peak heat time (typically noon-3pm) and to keep their pet indoors in a cool room on a hot day, with access to the garden for toilet stops and plenty of shaded areas to cool off both inside and outside.
The ‘glass oven’ effect
Every year many people gamble with their pets’ lives by leaving them in a hot car or other unsuitable, enclosed environments, including caravans, conservatories and outbuildings which can heat up in a matter of minutes and become a ‘glass oven’.
Zoe warns never to leave an animal in a car, caravan or conservatory on a warm day, as the temperature inside will be much hotter than outside and sadly animals can very easily overheat and die from heatstroke, even on milder days Dogs have less ability to cool down than humans and a hot dog can only regulate body temperature by panting, overheating in a matter of minutes to the point where their life can be at risk. With the weather heating up, we are urging people to not take this risk, even if you“won’t be long” or if it doesn’t seem to be extremely hot outside.
It’s not just the dog being left in a car while the owner pops into a shop that can be life-threatening and cause your dog to overheat. An owner driving their car can be unaware of their dog overheating if it is in the back seat or boot of the car. Zoe says: “I’ve seen many cases of owners oblivious to their dogs’ stress while they are at the wheel of their car driving and their dog is in the hatch or boot of the car with the sun shining directly onto them through the back window. The dog is restricted and unable to move, panting frantically to try to regulate their body heat.”
It’s important to understand that in situations like this, animals are completely dependent on their owner to keep them cool in the warmer months, as the dog can’t move itself to a cooler and shaded area to cool down. Read more on the Dogs Die in Hot Cars campaign here.
Animals should have clean water available at all times and it should be replaced with fresh water every day. If you are travelling with a pet make sure they have access to a non-spill travel bowl of water and take regular breaks to cool off in shaded areas. You can carry a cool water spray with you to mist over your dog or freeze a bottle of water for them to lie on. You can even add some ice cubes to your cat’s water bowl as a cool treat.
Your pet will seek out the coolest parts of your home, so make sure they have access to areas with tiled floors and rooms that don’t get much sun. You can leave a fan on in a place where your pet can sit in front of it. Many dogs enjoy a splash in a paddling pool, which is a great way of cooling down, but be sure it isn’t in direct sunlight.
Watch out for heatstroke
Hot temperatures can cause heatstroke. Some signs of heatstroke are heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, drooling, vomiting and unconsciousness. Animals are at particular risk of heatstroke if they are very old, very young or overweight. Some breeds like Boxers, Pugs, Shih Tzus, and other dogs and cats with short muzzles will have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat, but all breeds can be at risk.
If you suspect your pet is suffering from heatstroke, call your local vet or emergency vet right away.
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