With summer in full swing most of us are spending more time outdoors enjoying the warm weather (when it occurs!) Your pets will hopefully be enjoying the weather too but there are a few things you can do to ensure they stay comfortable and safe in the summer months.
How To Keep Your Pet Cool On Warm Days
- Provide fresh drinking water at all times. Of course you are doing this already, but it is really important to check water bowls and bottles frequently and freshen the water as necessary as your pets will likely be drinking more in the warmer weather. If you are taking your dog out in hot weather it is a good idea to take water and a bowl with you.
- Provide access to a shaded area and make sure your pet can get out of the sun. Watch out for pets who may be sun-worshipers and try to encourage them into the shade if possible. Make sure hutches and runs are moved to shaded areas too. If it is too hot outside bring your pets inside.
- Use pet-safe sunscreen to prevent sunburn. This is especially important for pets with white ears, pink noses and/or hairless tummies.
- Think about ventilation and air cooling. Make sure hutches and cages are well ventilated. You can use a fan to cool and move the air in a room (placing a bottle of frozen water directly behind it, will help even more) but make sure your pet can get out of the air flow, cannot touch the fan and cannot chew the electrical cable.
- Think about the best times for exercising dogs. Early in the morning and later in the evening will often be slightly cooler. A good rule of thumb is if the pavement is too hot for you to touch your wrist to for more than a half a minute, it is too hot for your dog’s paws.
- Move cages containing indoor pets away from windows and/or direct sunlight, these can soon heat up to unbearable temperatures.
- Avoid long journeys in cars if possible and definitely do not leave your pet in a parked car, caravan or conservatory (see our heatstroke article)
- Use water to help your pet cool down. Some pets will really appreciate some water to cool off in, dogs especially like to play in paddling pools, but they should always be supervised. Some pets may like a gentle spray with some water to help keep them cool but if your pet does not like it, don’t do it.
- Provide cooling places and objects such as a wet towel on the ground for pets to lie on or access to nice cool kitchen tiles. You can freeze water in plastic bottles or ice packs and wrap these in a towel then place near to your pet – rabbits and dogs love lying on or against these in the hot weather (just make sure the icy surface is not directly next to their skin. (Make sure your pet is not going to chew these objects though – especially ice packs as they may contain chemicals) You can also use ceramic tiles that have been chilled for small animals to lie on.
- Check habitat temperatures carefully for tropical fish tanks and reptile vivariums as these may get too hot if the external temperature rises
- Don’t forget the wildlife. Small, shallow bowls of water dotted around your garden will help out greatly.
Heatstroke can happen to any species of pet, but is more common in animals that are overweight, senior, hyperactive, short nosed (brachycephalic) breeds, or animals that have existing health problems with their heart or lungs. We often associate heatstroke with dogs that have been left in cars, caravans or conservatories on sunny days, but it can happen to any animal and usually occurs on hot days during or after exertion (exercise).
Be vigilant for signs of heatstroke in your pet. Symptoms can include:
- Rapid or frantic panting
- Excessive thirst
- Anxious behaviour
- Rapid heart/pulse rate
- Dizziness and/or disorientation
If your pet is showing any of these symptoms, get them out of the sun and cool them down asap using a fan, air conditioning and/or a towel that has been soaked with cool (not freezing) water and rung out. Contact the veterinary practice quickly for advice.
NEVER leave your pet alone in the car on a sunny day. Temperatures can soar in just a few minutes; after 5 minutes the inside temperature of the car will match the environmental temperature and will then start getting hotter. Even if you open windows, park in the shade or use sun shields it will not keep your car cool enough.
Barbecues and Parties
These will be on the agenda for a lot of households but, while they are fun for us, they are a scavenging hazard for ourpets! In the summer months veterinary practices often see a lot of pets with tummy upsets or burns after scavenging food, as well as pets that need operations to remove things like corn cobs, bones and wooden meat skewers that have been eaten and got stuck in the stomach or intestines.
If you have a nervous pet who becomes distressed when you have lots of visitors, make sure he or she has a room they can retreat to where they will be undisturbed.
This is another common summer problem. It occurs when a fly lays its eggs on an animal and the maggots that hatch eat the flesh of the animal. Flystrike mainly affects rabbits, but other pets including dogs and cats can and do get affected. The flies are attracted to soiled bottoms, poo and wounds, so make sure you check your pet daily and keep hutches, cages and bottoms clean. Flystrike is a veterinary emergency, so if you suspect your pet has flystrike contact your vet quickly.
Grass Seeds and Plant Awns
These can be a real nuisance at this time of year and we see a lot of patients (particularly dogs), with grass seeds and plant awns embedded in various parts of their bodies. Check your pet’s coat daily and remove any seeds or awns that you find.
If you have any questions regarding your pet’s care or would like any advice then please contact the practice on 0118 957 4488 or through our website.