Finally summer has arrived on the coat-tails of a winter that over-stayed its welcome.
With it comes every excuse to get out into the open air, explore freshly-greened spaces and enjoy the sun on your face. Some pets cope better than others with heat but most are sensible and know when to seek out a shady spot. But as temperatures rise there are some things to make sure we include in our pets’ health routines.
Cats are natural heat seekers – but our ginger and white feline friends need some protection from the sun - just like fairer folk. Feline skin cancer is a real risk for paler-coloured cats and white cats in particular and, with their sensitive pink skin around ears and noses, they need extra protection from the sun’s rays.
Pale cats should be confined to the cool indoor spaces during the hottest part of the day as their ears and noses can get badly burned. So if yours is a pale puss, make sure you take the appropriate steps.
Dogs’ welfare in the heat is easier to manage – but their cooling system will be under threat if they’re asked to exercise when it’s hot. Unlike us they can’t sweat through their skin so they rely on panting and releasing heat through their paw pads and nose to control their temperature. Combine that with a fur coat and it’s easy to see how dogs can fall prey to heatstroke so quickly – and heatstroke can be fatal.
Of course the thing to do is avoid exposure and exertion – but also be aware of the signs of heatstroke – including dribbling, excessive panting and collapse. If that happens, move your dog to a cool area, offer cool water and call the vet.
So of course the smart thing to do is head the heat off before it has a chance to affect your pet.
- Walk during the cooler hours of the day – early morning and evening – and remember to take plenty of water with you.
- If it’s just too hot for a long walk then try some play that concentrates on a brain workout rather than a physical one. Find a shady spot and brush up on that basic training.
- Remember that a pavement that has been in the baking sun all day will be hot underfoot – and that will burn. Just put your hand on the pavement, if it’s uncomfortably hot for you then it is too hot for him.
- Make sure shade and plenty of water is available all day to your dog at home
- Some dogs enjoy access to a paddling pool for a chill out
- And of course NEVER leave your dog – or any pet - in the car, even with the windows open
Don’t forget the small furries in your family in the heat. If you have rabbits or Guinea pigs living in outdoor quarters make sure they have access to shady outside space. Wooden hutches will become very hot in full sun, so move them out of direct sunshine and your little friends will welcome some cool grass under foot and plenty of fresh water.
Remember, anyone, human or animal, who is fair-skinned is at risk in intense sunshine, so find some shade for them to keep them safe.
Your pets’ coats will need extra attention during the summer months, especially for longhaired breeds of cats and dogs, to get rid of tangles and help with cooling.
If your dog swims or paddles in the sea to keep cool, remember to rinse off salt and sand afterwards to avoid skin irritation.