As the mercury starts to rise, we look at simple ways to keep your cat or dog cool and content in the heat.
When the days starts to sizzle, most of us break out the summer wardrobe and pour a long, cool drink. But what about keeping your cat and dog comfy?
They’re not exactly helpless. Each has mechanisms to cool off when the temperature rises. Think panting in dogs and washing in cats, for instance. And they certainly have the sense to slope off to a cool, shady place given the opportunity. (More good sense than some humans, you might say).
But they are dependent upon you for many of their creature comforts. And during those very hot days it’s extra important you don’t neglect their need to stay comfy and cool while you enjoy the lovely weather.
Here’s 10 things you should do for pets during hot spells.
1) Give them lots of water
The absolute essential during hot weather is a plentiful supply of H2O. Top up your dog’s bowl and ensure it can’t be knocked over. When out walking, take along some water for him too. For cats, place water at various places about the house, always away from food.
2) Avoid hot spots
Why does the RSPCA keep running campaigns about leaving dogs in cars? Because, sadly, every year canines die this way. Here’s the rule. Don’t leave your dog alone in the car – even for a short time. And, no, an open window or a windshield is not enough to protect them. The RSPCA says that when it’s a warm 22C outside it can be a baking 47C in the car. Similarly, don’t leave a dog in a conservatory or caravan. The effects can be just as deadly.
3) Stay cool indoors
Cats and dogs have the good sense to seek out cool spots in hot weather. However, it’s up to you to provide a shady refuge. Always make sure they can find somewhere cool and sheltered inside. In at least one room, keep the curtains closed and the windows open. Also, use fans and air con if you have access to them.
4) Exercise wisely
Take your dog for a walk either side of the hottest hours, 11am to 4pm. Similarly, avoid letting cats out at this time if there’s little shade in your garden.
If you’ve ever walked barefoot on tarmac in blistering heat you won’t forget it. Neither will your dog. The RSPCA recommends they walk on grass in hot weather. Lastly, don’t over-exercise pets in very hot weather. Save it for a rainy, or at least overcast, day.
5) Feed little and often
What’s that pong? Probably pet food on the turn in the heat. You’re not going to like that smell and your pet’s not going to like the taste. More seriously, the bacteria bred by deteriorating food could make a cat or dog very ill. Don’t bank up their bowls. ‘Little and often’ is the mantra when the heat starts to rise.
6) Keep them well groomed
Groom cats and dogs regularly in warmer weather, especially longer-haired breeds. They will malt more in the heat and brushing will help remove that excess hair. Long-coated dogs should be clipped regularly and, yes, you can consider the same treatment for longer-haired cats too.
7) Apply suncream
Are they going to love you for applying suncream? Perhaps not. So should you? Absolutely. Just like us, pets can develop skin cancer, particularly those with light-coloured ears and noses. Stick to products designed for animals. Choose a variety that can’t be licked off. And never use a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide on your dog – it can cause serious health problems.
😎 Cool it down
Sometimes, you might follow all the advice 1-7 above and still find your pet is feeling the heat. Two tips. If you have kitchen tiles and it’s cool in the room generally, encourage your pet to come in and splay out. Secondly, a cold compress around the body will be gratefully received by a hot and bothered animal.
9) Don’t ignore the warning signs
The RSPCA says you should be concerned if pets display the following behaviours in hot weather: panting heavily; drooling excessively; appearing lethargic, drowsy or uncoordinated; or collapsing or vomiting.
10) Take appropriate action
If you think your cat or dog has heatstroke, move them to cool, shaded area and contact a vet immediately. While waiting for help, you should use wet towels, or water if they are not available, to douse the pet with cool but not cold water. If possible, place him/her in the breeze of a fan. Allow the pet to drink small amounts of cool water and continue to douse with cool water.
If you follow the advice in this article, it’s unlikely you will need to deal with a serious heatstroke incident and you and your pet can enjoy the best of a British summer.
If you would like to find out more about different breeds of dogs and cats, including their characteristics, exercise and nutrition essentials, click here.
Disclaimer: The content on this page aims to offer useful information but does not constitute veterinary advice. If your dog or cat falls ill or has an injury, contact your vet immediately.