Looking after pets (and wildlife) in hot weather
We certainly have enjoyed a long and hot summer so far and the hot weather conditions are set to continue until the end of August according to the latest predictions. Of course this could all change at the drop of a hat but whilst the prolonged heatwave continues there are some really important things you can do to help protect your pets and the wildlife in the garden too.
Water, water everywhere!
Make sure that your water bowls are constantly topped up. Having 2 or 3 bowls inside and out (by the front door and in the garden) ensures that not only do your pets have plenty of water to drink but wildlife can dip in and out of it too. Make sure that you leave shallow bowls for hedgehogs to drink from and birds to bathe in – if they’re too deep they could drown.
You might want to consider putting a container with water at the end of your driveway so that dogs can have a drink if they’re out on a walk.
Give your pet an icy treat to help keep them cool!
You can freeze just about anything in some water and give it to your pet for them to nibble and chew at for a while. Here are some ideas:
- Pour the juice from a tin of tuna in spring water into a jug and dilute with more water, mix in the tuna if you want, then pour into an ice cube tray. Freeze and serve to your cat.
- Chop up fruit (make sure it’s safe for your dog to eat, things like grapes and raisins are poisonous to dogs) and freeze it in water for your dog to chew on.
- Put a peeled banana in the freezer. Cut it in half length ways and wrap it in clingfilm. It makes a fabulous ice cold treat for you and your dog (it tastes really creamy when frozen…)
Get the paddling pool out!
It doesn’t have to be Olympic size for your pet to get in it. Fill it with cold water, put a chair at the side and sit with your feet in there too!
Out for walks
It goes without saying that you must use a little common sense when planning walks with your dog. From as early as 9 or 10am pavement temperatures are already reaching the point where they are too hot for your dogs’ paws – even at 6pm or 7pm this can still be the case. A great way to test the temperature of paths and pavements is to place the back of your hand on the ground for a few seconds – if it’s too hot for you to keep your hand there, it’s too hot for your dog.
If you have access to a car and a nearby park, river or lake it’s a good idea to take your early morning or late evening walks where your dog can happily walk and paddle or swim to cool off.
Remember it is far better to postpone a walk for a day than put your dog through the pain and discomfort of blisters on their paws.
Sun cream – yes, that’s right, sun cream
Albino and light coloured pets are susceptible to sunburn – just like us humans. Apply sun cream to areas with no pigmentation (pink areas) on ears, nose, mouth and elsewhere.
If you need to take your dog in the car please, please make sure you don’t leave them without access to fresh air and plenty of water. Even with the windows open you are posing a risk to your dogs’ health so only take them on trips that are absolutely necessary and make sure you have plenty of planned stops.
At 82-83f (28c) the temperature inside your closed and locked car will reach 100f in under 10 minutes and up to 119f after just 30 minutes. This will probably be fatal to your pet.
What should I do if I suspect my pet has heat stroke?
If you suspect your dog or cat has heat stroke, it’s important to cool them down quickly and seek veterinary help. We recommend that you should get treatment underway as quickly as possible with the following steps:
- Find a cool room or shaded area, bring a fan into the room if possible too.
- Douse your dog in cool (not cold) water – cold water will shock your dog (see our warning below)
- Using an old sheet, towel or blanket, soak it in cool water and lay it out for your pet to lay on.
- Allow your pet to drink small amounts of cool water
- Continue to douse your pet with cool water until their breathing starts to become normal again
Please do not be tempted to use ice cubes or ice cold water to cool off your dog or cat. Ice cold water and ice cubes will make their blood vessels contract which makes heat loss even less efficient.