Pets and heat don’t mix! Keep them cool this summer
If you’ve welcomed a new pet into your life, you need to make sure they’re happy all year round.
During the winter that’s relatively easy – a nice, warm blanket to snuggle into and plenty of cuddles should do the trick. But just like us, our pets can suffer during the hot weather, so it’s important to know how to take care of them when the mercury starts to rise.
Why is heat dangerous to your pets?
Animals react differently to high temperatures. Crucially, they don’t sweat to control their body temperature, which is why you see animals panting when it gets hot. This is the only way they have to cool down, and if you take into account the fact that they’re permanently wearing a fur coat, it’s no surprise that cats, dogs and even rabbits don’t like hot weather.
For example, a dog’s normal body temperature ranges from 101 to 102.5 degrees. If their body temperature goes above 105 degrees they are at risk of hyperthermia or heatstroke, which can take just minutes and cause irreversible organ damage and a painful death. This is why you should never, ever leave a dog in a hot car, even for a few minutes. It’s estimated that if the temperature is 85 degrees outside then it takes just ten minutes for the temperature inside a car to reach 102 degrees, even with the window cracked open. After 30 minutes, it can be 120 degrees inside that car, which can easily kill a pet.
So if it’s hot and you’re heading out, leave your pet at home or, if you absolutely have to take them with you, don’t leave them in a hot car, even if you’re just popping into a shop for a few groceries.
How can you help them stay cool?
There are lots of different ways to help your pet stay cool:
Time for a haircut – long-haired dogs can suffer particularly badly during hot weather, so it might be time for a trim to help them stay cool. Don’t cut it too short, though, otherwise they could be at just as much risk of heatstroke.
Walkies – Don’t take dogs out for their walk in the hottest part of the day. Your pup will appreciate an early morning or evening walk much more, when it’s cooler.
Playtime – when your dog is hot and bothered, leave them alone. Not only do they risk dehydration if they’re forced to run around and play, but they can also become aggressive and bad tempered too.
Sun-block for white cats – If your cat is white then they are at risk of sunburn in the height of summer. Ensure they’ve got plenty of shade, and check online for special feline sunblock for their ears.
Nap time – Cats love sleeping (they snooze for an average of 16 hours a day!), so make sure there’s somewhere cool, safe and shaded for them to catch 40 winks.
Food and drink – Summer brings the insects into the house, and flies head straight for open food. Don’t leave food bowls down during hot weather so you avoid contamination, but always make sure your cat has access to plenty of water.
A shady spot to nap – Even if your rabbit hutch is in shade during some of the day, remember that as the sun moves around, it may shine directly onto your rabbit’s home. Make sure they have plenty of shade for naps and to get out of the sun.
Pink ears – If your rabbit’s ears are pinker than usual this can be a warning that they’re suffering from heatstroke.
Brushing – Regular brushing stops a rabbit’s coat getting matted and thick. Give them a regular brush to keep their coats in good condition, and to remove excess hair, especially during the summer.
Don’t worry we haven’t forgotten about your pet fish, lizards and birds! Tanks and cages should be kept away from direct sunlight and any water changed regularly to stop them overheating.
And if you don’t have any pets you can still look after animals in the heat. You can help wildlife in your garden by putting out fresh clean water for drinking and in case they want to take a dip!