Summer has arrived and although we may enjoy the sunshine your pet may be less inclined to spend time outside in hot weather. I have created a survival guide of how you can help your pet through the summer when the weather heats up so we can all enjoy the time together.
Firstly don’t forget that your dog or cat will start to feel hot way before you do. Just think, would you want to sit outside in the sun in a fur coat? Probably not! Add to this that dogs and cat’s don’t sweat through their skin like we do so regulating body temperature can become a problem much quicker. Remember to ensure that they have plenty of options of shaded areas to sit when it starts to get hot during the day. You can always keep them indoors when the sun is at its strongest between 10:00 and 4:00pm.
If they still like to sit in the sun then consider purchasing a cool mat or coat which can help to keep their body temperature under control. Some dogs also love to paddle so a paddling pool may be a good option for cooling down. Frozen treats and Kongs are also a good option and alternative if you for feeding during the day. A fan may also be a good way of circulating air around a warm room.
If you own a breed which needs regular grooming then make sure they are booked into the groomers to remove any excess fur. Be careful though as some breeds with double coats and long hair use this to protect them from the sun and keep cool so a close shave is not always a good thing. Find a good dog groomer and listen to their advice as they will know what is best to keep your dog cool.
Rabbits, guinea pigs and chickens also don’t like the sun and hot weather so make sure their hutch and garden runs are kept in a shaded spot. Also ensure that there is plenty of air circulation so they don’t get to stuffy and if they are out in runs make sure there is a covered area where they have the option to shelter from the sun. Small animals kept inside also don’t enjoy hot weather. Make sure they are kept away from direct sunlight and the room is well ventilated to prevent it from becoming stuffy. If possible move them to a cooler room in the house when the weather is going to get particularly warm.
Water, water everywhere
We all need plenty of water in hot weather, your dog and cat included so make sure to keep a watch and ensure that their water bowls are topped up with fresh water. It would also be a good option to keep a water bowl outside especially if they are spending most of the day outside. If they are out in the garden with no access to their water indoors make sure that their is a water bowl outside for them. Just remember to clean and top up with fresh water every day.
When going out on walks its easy to remember to take water for yourself but don’t forget about you dog. Take a bowl or separate water bottle for them. Some dogs are more than happy to reject your lovely clean water and choose the tastier puddles, rivers and ditch water. Others, like my two, will not touch water unless it has come from their bowl. We even have to take our own bowl to pubs because they will not share a water bowl with other dogs.
For our smaller companions clean and fill up water bottles and bowls at least once a day and keep a close eye to ensure that they do not run out. Our hens can get through a lot of water in the summer. No one want’s to get dehydrated.
We all like to go out exploring, especially when the weather is nice but every year I see people walking their dogs in hot weather and you can see their dog struggling to keep up. As a vet nurse I have also witnessed the devastating effects that forcing your dog to exercise in hot weather can bring about. I think most dogs if given the choice would not go out for a walk in 30 degree heat but some people still continue to carry one as normal.
Try to walk your dog either early in the morning or later on in the evening once the weather has cooled down. When choosing a walk consider whether their are shady areas such as woodlands or areas where your dog may be able to go for a paddle if they are inclined. This gives some variety for your dog but also a chance to stay cool. If you can’t walk your dog then then its not the end of the world if they miss a walk whilst the weather is hot. Spend some time playing games where they need to use their brains such as sniffing out treats or teaching some new tricks Believe me this can be just as tiering as going for a long walk. As its England the weather will be sure to break soon and you can go back to normal walks.
If you have a dog walker you do not need to cancel them, your dog will enjoy the company especially if they are coming as you are out the house all day. Suggest to them that rather than taking your dog for a long walk they could spend some time with them in the garden, playing a few games. If they need to go out so that they can toilet then just take them for a quick walk to do their business and then come home. Your dog will still appreciate the company and it is part of their routine to have their dog walker come to see them.
Also if the weather gets very hot don’t be disappointed if physiotherapy or hydrotherapy sessions get postponed. Your physiotherapist or hydrotherapist know what’s best for your dog so trust their judgment. Lot’s of exercise in water or on land and hands on treatments such as massage can raise your dogs body temperature above safe levels. No one want’s an emergency trip to the vets.
Another issue with walking in hot weather is that pavements can get very hot and have been known to burn paws. An easy way to check if the pavement is OK for your dog to be walking on is to take your shoes off and hold your foot on the pavement. If your feet start to feel like they are burning then its too hot to walk your dog on these pavements. Wait for them to cool down or stick to grassy fields and footpaths.
When out and about with your dog or enjoying time in the garden with your dog or cat make sure you know the signs of heat stroke so you know when to take a break from what you are doing.
The signs to look out for are:
- Excessive heavy panting
- Drooling and/or salivating
- Agitation and restlessness
- Bright red tongue
- Bright red or very pale gums
- Increased heart and pulse rate
- Breathing distressed
- Vomiting and diarrhoea (possibly with blood)
If you notice any of these signs then get to a cool place and phone your vet. Hopefully you can prevent your pet from collapsing. Heat stroke can even lead to death.
Other signs to look out in small animals include:
- Laboured breathing and panting
- Pale combs/wattles (Hens)
- Lifting wings away from body (Hens)
- Redness of the ears (Rabbits and G.pigs)
Also just remember to look for subtle signs in your pet. If they want to take a break and rest in a cool area then let them. They are trying to tell you they are too hot.
It goes without saying but don’t leave your pet in the car on a hot day. Cars can very quickly become ovens. Unfortunately I have seen dogs rushed to the vets after being in a hot car and no matter how much advertising is done dogs are still left in vehicles doing hot weather. Opening the window a small amount is not enough. If your dog is also a brachycephalic breed e.g. Pug and French Bulldog, they become overheated much faster so be extra precautious with these dogs.
We all know the importance of using suncream on ourselves but what about our pets. Ears and noses are typical places for getting burned especially if your pet has white or pink skin. The dangers of sunburn is that this can cause skin cancers which is why white cat’s often end up with no ears! To keep your pets safe you can apply a pet safe suncream to exposed areas. Personally I have found Aniwell Filtaclear to be particularly good for our dogs who do enjoy sunbathing. Which you can purchase here If you cannot apply sunscream to your dogs then clothing with UV protection may be a good alternative especially for those with white fur and pink skin.
The most important thing is to enjoy spending time together so with the start of the summer holiday season I hope you can use these tips to help the whole family enjoy the summer together. We all know the Great British Summer can be over far to quickly so enjoy the good weather together whilst you can.