Veterinarians receive numerous calls from concerned pet owners during summer heatwaves seeing worrying signs like lethargy, excessive panting or breathing problems. But there are simple tips that can help to prevent or minimise problems in pets who are just as susceptible to heat-related illness as humans.
Unlike people, who sweat through the skin, pets, such as cats and dogs, cool off through the pads of their feet and tongues. They need to pant to regulate their temperature, and dogs and cats with long hair can be more susceptible to the effects of heat.
Here are some top tips for dogs and cats to beat the heat.
Water and ice
- Make sure there is plenty of cool, fresh water available at all times. Have multiple bowls and make sure they are changed regularly and in shady areas.
- One way to provide relief from the heat is to fill the kids’ paddling pool with a couple of inches of water and leave this in a shady spot for your dog to sit in.
- Tossing a few ice cubes in your dog or cat’s water bowl can help to keep their temperature down and provide some relief on a hot day.
- Consider putting some treats in the freezer. These can be given to your pet as a pet popsicle on really hot days. They’ll help cool your pet down and give them something to do when you’re out.
- Make sure your pets have multiple shady areas to go to over the day.
- Dogs love to sit in the sun, but prolonged sun exposure can quickly lead to heat exhaustion and can cause skin cancers so it’s important to provide them with a shaded area.
- Our senior pets can tend to struggle more with the heat, particularly if they have mobility and breathing problems, so we need to keep an extra eye on them.
- If you own a longhaired dog, consider giving them a trim to help them cope better with the hotter summer months.
- Dogs with flat faces are especially prone to overheating as their flat faces interfere with their ability to cool themselves. We have partnered with the RSPCA to raise awareness about the health concerns of these dogs. Information for pet owners can be found at the 'Love is Blind' page.
Take it easy
- Hot days are good days to stay quiet at home. Avoid exercise in the hottest part of the day, and if you do go for a walk, do so when the temperature is much lower in the very early morning or late evening.
- If you have air-conditioning or fans, often our pets are most comfortable inside with us in the height of summer.
Signs of heat stroke include heavy panting, difficulty breathing, fatigue, drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea and even seizures. It’s important to take your pet to your local veterinarian if they are displaying any signs of heat stroke. And it goes without saying that you really must never leave a pet unattended in a car, even when the weather isn’t very hot.