Heatwave: tips to keep your dog cool

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heatwave relief

After a couple of weeks of less than stellar weather, sunshine and high temperatures are set to return this week – and as always, dog owners need take all necessary steps to ensure their best friends don’t suffer during the heatwave.

Every year the RSPCA receives hundreds of reports of animals suffering from heat exposure, including dogs left in hot cars, pets with heat burns on their paws from pavements, and dogs over-exercised in the heat.

RSPCA pet welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines said, “Though many of us will be looking forward to this week’s spell of sunny, hot weather, it is really important we make sure to plan how we’ll keep our pets cool and comfortable this week.

“We’ve all experienced a very challenging time with lockdown, and as measures have eased it will be tempting during the hot weather this week for us to want to spend lots of time outside with our families and take our pets, but taking our dogs out with us for walks or to the park could really put them at risk of suffering heat stroke or exhaustion.  It’s really important that we take extra special care of our pets and wildlife during this extremely hot weather.”

Summer advice

Dogs and horses need exercise, even when it’s hot. But the RSPCA says you should avoid exercising them in excessively hot weather. Experts advise walking or riding in the morning or evening when it’s cooler. When walking dogs keep in mind that pavements can get very hot in the warm weather – if it’s too hot to touch with your hand, then it’s too hot for a dog’s paws.

If temperatures are set to really soar in your region this week and you’re planning to spend several hours outdoors enjoying the sun, try and avoid the temptation to take your dog with you. Spending prolonged periods of time in the sunshine without shade poses a really serious risk to your pet. It may be better to leave them at home – but no more than four hours.

Never leave pets in vehicles, caravans, conservatories or outbuildings in the warm weather. Dogs – and other pets – can overheat and die if left in a hot environment, such as a car.

Snakes are most active in June and July so don’t be alarmed if you see one in the wild. Most tend to shy away from people. 

Farm animals should have access to shaded areas and clean drinking water. Transportation of animals in hot weather should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. If animals are housed during hot weather, buildings must be adequately ventilated and monitored regularly. 

Below are some the RSPCA’s top tips to keep your animals cool through summer – and through any heatwave:

  • Have a go at making some frozen dog treats to keep your pooch cool
  • Watch our video on how to keep cats cool in hot weather
  • Don’t let your pet get sunburnt – use pet-safe sun cream.
  • Ensure animals have constant access to shade and fresh drinking water at all times. For animals that are kept outside, remember that as the sun moves during the day so too does the shade. Somewhere that was shaded in the morning could be in full sun by the afternoon.
  • Keep guinea pigs cool and hydrated by making them a fresh vegetable treat
  • Check small animals, poultry and other pets twice a day for flystrike.
  • Keep fish tanks out of direct sunlight and top up water levels of ponds. 
  • Keep an eye out for wildlife when using lawnmowers or strimmers.
  • Keep pesticides out of reach of animals. 

  • For horses stabled during the day out of the heat, try making them our horse and pony boredom buster treat
  • Wrap an ice pack or frozen water bottle in a tea towel, or use damp towels for your pet to lie on.
  • Those with pet chickens can encourage them to stay in shaded areas by hanging up a homemade vegetable garland for chickens
  • Use cold treats from the fridge for added moisture or make an ice lolly for your dog from pet-friendly ingredients.
  • Freeze your dog’s water bowl or kong, or add ice cubes to your pet’s bowl. 
  • Fill a paddling pool or spray a hose for your dog to play in but always supervise them around water. 
  • Leave a bowl of fresh drinking water in your garden for birds and other wildlife.

Images by RSPCA

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