Keeping pets cool

Pets rely on us as owners to keep them cool during warm weather. Even in the UK we get heatwaves and warm spells, so here are a few hints and tips to help keep your pets cool.

All pets

  • If your pets are outside, keep them in a cool or shady area. However, if it gets too hot you may need to bring them indoors.
  • Make sure to keep an eye on your pet when they are outside, as when animals are thirsty they will drink anything – including liquids like Antifreeze which is toxic to animals.
  • Offer your pet plenty of fresh water, possibly in a few bowls just in case one is accidently knocked over.
  • Animals can get sunburn too, so please apply sunscreen to the nose and ears of pale coloured cats and dogs – if in doubt please ask your local veterinary practice for advice.
  • Not all pets are the same when it comes to keeping cool; muscular dogs, overweight pets, long haired pets, young and old pets need extra care during hot weather.
  • Don’t worry if your dog or cat starts panting – they will do so in order to take on cooler air if they’re really hot. Cats pant more rarely than dogs so any heavy panting should be cause for concern, if this happens please seek veterinary guidance.
  • Remember for any pet that is kept inside; please ensure that the room is cool and well ventilated. It may be necessary to close the curtains and open a window if there is a breeze.
  • If your pet seems in discomfort then wetting their feet and using a cooling mist may help. This is an option for dogs, cats, and small animals as many control their body temperature through their feet.
  • Don’t leave your pet in a glass conservatory, caravan or car, even for a minute. An open window is not an adequate way to keep them cool.

Dogs

  • Please remember to take plenty of water when you go out for a walk. There are various collapsible and lightweight options for travel water bowls which can be used.
  • Did you know that up to a third of dogs may suffer from hay fever? This can lead to skin irritations which may become infected if your dog is continuously scratching. Please seek veterinary guidance if there is excessive scratching.
  • Don’t take your dog for a walk when the day is at its warmest, this is usually between the hours of 10am until 4pm.

Cats

  • Cats tend to groom more often when it’s warmer- this is a cooling mechanism which is similar to us sweating. The saliva evaporates off the fur and helps the cat to cool down.
  • Cats need a massive 16 hours of sleep a day. So they are often sensible and nap more when it’s a warm day as opposed to running around.
  • Try not to allow your cat outside between the hours of 10am until 4pm, as this is the hottest part of the day.

Rabbits

  • Don’t keep a rabbit hutch on the ground. You can improve ventilation within the hutch by elevating it off the ground on bricks or something similar.
  • Ensure that hutches are kept in the shade all day – if necessary you may need to move the hutch as the sun moves round, or bring the hutch inside if there are no shady areas in your garden.
  • Do not get lax with hygiene for your bunny. The hot weather results in more flies thus more maggots which may lead to Flystrike. This is often a fatal condition in rabbits so regular cleaning is recommended.
  • It’s a good idea to provide small animals with pieces of water rich vegetables or fruit, for example celery as this will help keep them hydrated.

Do not ignore the signs of heatstroke in your pet

These include:

  • Heavy panting.
  • Excessive salivating.
  • Rapid heart/ pulse rate.
  • Very red gums and/ or tongue.
  • Lack of coordination.
  • Lethargy.
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea.
  • Reluctance or inability to stand.
  • In extreme cases there may be a loss of consciousness.

If your pet is showing any of these signs then try to cool your pet down gradually by dousing them in cool water (not ice cold as this may cause shock) and ensure that your pet is drinking. Please seek immediate veterinary attention as heatstroke can be fatal to pets.

Remember that your local veterinary team is there to help you with hints and tips for ensuring that your pets stay safe and healthy throughout warm spells. Please do not hesitate to contact them should you need further advice.