The summer season is well and truly upon us! And if we are buckling under the strain of the hotter temperatures, imagine how your pets are feeling. If it is too hot for us, it is too hot for them.

It is important that we are prepared for the hot weather so that we can look after those in our care – both pets and wildlife such as birds. We may have the luxury of air conditioning inside our home, but dogs will need to be outside for exercise, and indoor animals may need to regulate their body temperatures. Here’s how you can ensure everyone stays safe this summer.

  • Know the signs of heatstroke: this can include excessive panting, a rapid heartbeat, vomiting, staring, and warm, dry skin. Pets can quickly become overheated on very hot or humid days. Dogs with short snouts and cats with longer fur are most susceptible.
  • Keep pets in cool, shaded areas; it is preferable that you keep your pets indoors on both hot days, and the hottest part of the day. Always make sure there is a shaded area available whenever outside.
  • Ensure there is an ample supply of water. Dogs love to drink from the water hose or run through sprinklers if you’re watering the garden! Keep large water containers full of fresh, cool water in the shade, and add some ice if it isn’t cold enough. Likewise, a smaller water bowl or trough will keep wild birds happy.

  • Many animals such as dogs, cats and caged birds control their body temperature through their feet, so if your pet is in discomfort try wetting their feet and use a water mister for their face. Don’t saturate a bird’s feathers though, as this may cause them to go into shock.
  • Talk to your vet or groomer about keeping your animal appropriately groomed for the summer. This is important for breeds with longer coats, but be careful about those with double coats, as these actually keep the animal cool during the hotter weather.
  • If your pet likes to be outside and has light skin or hair, they may need sunscreen. There are brands available especially for pets, which your vet can advise you on if necessary; don’t use any other type of sunscreen. Like humans, animals can get sunburnt, leading to painful, peeling skin and possibly skin cancer. Protect your pets just as you would yourself.
  • Smaller animals, such as hamsters and rabbits, and pet birds will benefit from a cool, airy room during the summer, but make sure the cage is not directly in a draught from the a/c or in direct sunlight. Check on your pets regularly: give them fresh, clean water every day and refill bottles as necessary. Give small treats such as pieces of apple and celery, as these contain extra water to keep them hydrated.
  • Finally, never, ever leave your pet in the car in hot weather! At present, we may have to wait in our vehicles before being admitted to the veterinary clinic, so make sure the a/c is on at a suitable temperature and don’t put your animal directly in the cold air flow. Leave your pet at home otherwise when out and about.

This information is guidance only and should not be substituted for professional, veterinary advice. If you suspect your pet has a medical emergency, such as heatstroke, contact your vet immediately.

Author: Sarah Palmer

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