How To Care For Your Pets On Hot Days

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  • While most of us Brits are most definitely struggling in the heatwave, spare a thought for our poor animals, who will also be left sweltering as the temperatures rise.

    While we’ll wear lighter layers and stay out of the sun when it’s at its strongest, our loyal pets can’t quite remove their thick fur coats as easily. They’ll still need to be walked, and the sun can affect them far worse than it does for us humans.

    But there are some steps you can take to keep your pet safe, comfortable and cool. Here’s how to indentify when they’re struggling in the heat, and how to keep them as comfortable as possible…

    How to tell if your pet is struggling in the heat

    Sensible pet owners would never leave their animals in warm, confined spaces – but if the temperature is high enough, all the space in the world won’t be enough. Do you know the telltale signs of overheating? In dogs, these are:

    • Excessive panting
    • Disorientation
    • Lying down

    In cats, the signs are:

    • Being ‘off’ food
    • Bright red gums

    And pet rabbits may have red ears if they’re overheating.

    How you can help your pet when it’s hot

    There are some simple preventative measures you can take to ensure your pet is as comfortable and happy as possible. All pets should be given plenty of shady areas to escape to, plus lots of water and cool bedding. You can also brush them to remove any excess, stifling hair.

    How to help dogs:

    • Keep walks shorter, and be sure to carry some water and a collapsable bowl. Never run with your dog on hot days.
    • Keep floor surfaces as cool as possible. Dogs sweat through their feet (and won’t respond to a fan as well as humans), so walking over hot surfaces repeatedly will leave them feeling very uncomfortable. It may be worth considering buying a paddling pool for them to bathe in.
    • Cool them on the inside. Doggy ice cream is great, or you can make your own ice lollies by following a recipe specifically for dogs. 

    How to help cats:

    • Look after their ears. Pale cats in particular need help protecting their ears from sunburn. Don’t use human suncream, though! As this can be toxic. Invest in one specifically designed for cats instead.
    • Be aware of open windows on upper floors – a cool breeze could prove to be too tempting for your cat, and an accident could easily happen.
    • Change their food and litter regularly. These will be a magnet for flies, and could lead to more irritation for your pet.

    How to help small animals:

    • Rabbits choose to live underground in the wild, so they’re not accustomed to warmer temperatures. Give their ears a regular spritz with cool water, and be sure to move their hutch into the shade.
    • Give small animals a little extra veg – the hydration will really make a difference.

    When to take action

    If you’re worried about your pet suffering from heatstroke, take them to the vet immediately. These are the symptoms to look for:

    • Staggering as though drunk
    • Acting confused
    • Vomiting
    • Excessive drooling

    If you see a dog in a car appearing to display any of these signs, call an emergency vet immediately.