They’re (usually) covered in thick fur, and can’t sweat or regulate their body temperature as well as people, so it’s up to us to keep them out of harm’s way during the warmer months. During her 30 years at Woodgreen, Wendy has learned a few tips and tricks to help!
What can I do to keep my house cool?
We recommend keeping all windows, doors and curtains closed during the day to keep the heat out, and switching on a fan to circulate the air. Make sure your pet’s water bowl is regularly topped up to keep them hydrated. If it’s still warm inside, wrap a couple of frozen water bottles in damp towels for your pets to lay next to. You can also give your dog frozen treats like stuffed Kongs or carrots, and some cats may enjoy a frozen Lick-e-Lix ice lolly. Products like cooling mats, cooling vests and freezable toys can help if used properly too.
Can I still take my dog out in hot weather?
Walking dogs in the heat is extremely dangerous. Not only can they burn their paws on hot pavements or hot sand, but exercising in hot weather can lead to serious heat-related illness too – even on short walks. For days that are due to be hotter than the low 20s, you should walk your dog very early in the morning or late in the evening when it’s still cool. Instead of a walk you could opt for light training or enrichment at home, or a paddling pool in the shade.
Please be extremely cautious when travelling with dogs in the car. Temperatures can very quickly become dangerously high and cause your dog to suffer (and even die). Dogs should never be left in a car in warm weather, even in the shade with the windows open. If you see a dog in distress in a hot car, dial 999.
How can I tell if my dog has heatstroke?
It’s normal for dogs to pant to cool themselves down, but if it becomes excessive they may be suffering from heatstroke. Other symptoms include bright red gums, dribbling, confusion, unsteadiness, collapsing and even seizures. If you think your dog has got too hot, quickly move them into the shade and cool them gently with tepid water, particularly around their neck, head and groin. If you’re worried, contact a vet as soon as possible.
What about pets that live or spend time outdoors?
It’s a good idea to keep cats inside between 11am and 3pm to avoid the hottest part of the day. Make sure they have plenty of shady spots in the garden, like cat-friendly furniture and plants. Cats with white noses and ears are at risk of sunburn and it can be quite sore, so stock up on pet-friendly sun cream that doesn’t contain zinc oxides.
If you can, move rabbit and guinea pig enclosures into the shade (and remember that the sun will move throughout the day!). If you can’t move them, create shade with a garden parasol, a gazebo or a white sheet, whilst ensuring they still have plenty of airflow. Since there are more flies in summer, it’s a good idea to clean your small pets’ enclosure more regularly to prevent flystrike. Make sure they have plenty of fresh water, as well as piles of hay to burrow into. You can also give them frozen bottles of water, damp towels and/or cool tiles to lay next to.
For more trusted advice about caring for pets in hot weather, or any other aspect of pet care, head to www.woodgreen.org.uk/pet-advice.