Five ways to keep your furry friends safe during the hot weather
With temperatures predicted to continue to soar over the next few weeks, people are planning how to make the most of the ongoing warm weather – but a leading UK vet charity has issued a warning for pet owners in this sweltering weather.
According to PDSA Vet, Lynne James, heatstroke can unfortunately be a huge issue for dogs at this time of year, and in severe cases can be fatal.
If a dog’s body temperature gets too high above the normal 38.6°C, they can become seriously unwell and need emergency treatment.
Signs of heatstroke vary from excessive panting, trouble breathing, stopping suddenly, confusion, bright red gums, foaming at the mouth, collapse or even seizures.
While this is a scary prospect, there are plenty of things we can do to keep our dogs out of harm’s way in the warm weather.
Lynne’s top five tips:
1) Avoid the heat of the day
One of the biggest heatstroke triggers is too much exercise in hot weather.
Though your dog might typically enjoy long walks and frolicking around the garden, it’s best to stay indoors for the hottest part of the day. This is generally around mid-afternoon, so aim for outdoors time in the early mornings or evenings.
When you do venture out, avoid strenuous exercise like running or games of fetch. Instead stick to gentle walking and allow your dog plenty of time to sniff, keeping their brain active as well as their legs.
2) Provide access to shade and water
If you’re planning on heading out of the house, make sure to pack a supply of water for your dog so you can hydrate them throughout the day.
Even if you’re just going out for a short time and it doesn’t seem that warm to you, it’s really important to take a drink for your dog in case they get thirsty.
Whether you’re embarking on a stroll along a coastal trail, country lane or inner-city street, try to find areas of shade and rest more often than you would if you were walking without your pet – imagine how often you’d take a break if you were hiking in a fur coat!
Cooling your dog down with a splash of water can help them maintain a comfortable body temperature – just ensure it’s not freezing cold as this could induce shock. Allowing your dog to paddle in a shallow pool or stream is also a great way to help them stay cool- just make sure the water is safe and clean before they venture in.
3) Be wary of hot spaces
Whatever the weather, you should never leave your dog in small, unventilated spaces, particularly cars, caravans or sheds.
Even humans find it unbearable sitting in a conservatory for too long on a hot day.
When you’re at home with your dog, try keeping windows and doors open on the shaded side of the house where it’s safe to do so. This will allow plenty of fresh air to filter into the room. If you’re leaving your dog for a short time at home, make sure they’re in a cool, shaded room – draw the curtains, put a fan on a high shelf out of reach or leave them a pet-safe cool mat to make sure they don’t get too warm while you’re gone.
4) Cut back on the coat
For dogs with thicker fur, hot weather can be especially uncomfortable. During the warmer seasons, consider having your dog’s coat groomed or clipped short to help prevent them from over-heating.
It’s also important to be aware that flat-faced breeds such as Bulldogs, Pugs and Shih Tzus are at a higher risk of heatstroke, as they can’t cool down as effectively through panting.
5) Watch their weight
Though this is more of a long-term issue, watching your pet’s weight is crucial as overweight dogs are more at risk of heatstroke. Keeping your dog at a healthy weight will not only help to prevent a number of additional health problems, but also stop them getting as hot in warm weather so they can enjoy some fun this summer.
PDSA is the UK’s largest vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information. www.pdsa.org.uk