The UK saw its hottest day of the year on Thursday but as Brits enjoy a week of glorious sunshine, those with pets have more to think about than just which factor SPF to apply.
Over-exposure to heat and sunshine can be harmful for animals as well as humans.
Vets Now, a provider of emergency veterinary care, warned that the average survival rate of a dog diagnosed with heatstroke was 50 percent.
The RSPCA said it had received 330 calls in regard to animal welfare and the hot weather since March 23, adding it was expecting “hundreds more” as temperatures increase this week.
Heatstroke, sunburn and dehydration are all things to consider when it comes to caring for your pet.
Here is a list of dos and don’ts to help you keep your dog cool, healthy and happy during the heatwave.
If you go for a walk, take a bottle of water so your dog can drink from your hands every hour. If you plan to linger away from home, take a water bowl as well.
Provide ways to cool down
Even if you do not have enough space for a paddling pool or garden sprinklers (although these will go down well!), laying out a damp towel in the shade is a great way to give your pup a quick way to cool down. If you’re dog is looking very hot and bothered, hold an ice cube to the back of his neck.
Grooming prevents knots building up in your dog’s coat. Matting like this can trap heat and be very uncomfortable during the summer.
Consider buying sun cream
Dogs with thin coats or lightly-coloured fur are the most vulnerable to burning. Speak to your vet about whether your animal needs sun cream. If so, you can pick up specialised creams at most pet shops.
Look out for symptoms of heat stroke
Heatstroke occurs when an animal is unable to reduce its body temperature. It can be fatal.
Battersea Dogs Home has listed the following as symptoms to watch out for:
- Heavy panting
- Glazed eyes
- Rapid pulse
- Excessive salivation
- Lack of coordination
- Vomiting or diarrhoea
If your dog is suffering from many of these symptoms, you need to act fast. Immediately take them out of the sun and help them to cool with wet towels, ice cubes and drinking water.
Leave your dog in a car
Like babies, dogs should not be left in cars. Under the sun’s glare, cars can rapidly reach dangerously hot temperatures with fatal consequences. If you see a dog in a hot car (even in the shade) call 999.
Play high-exertion games
Fetch might not be ideal for dogs who struggle with heat. If your dog seems to be one of them, play around with slow-paced games, like hiding treats for them to sniff out.
Go for a walk in the heat of the day
Avoid the hours around midday for your walk – if you feel the need to wear a hat, that is sure indication your dog will be uncomfortable walking under the glaring sun. Pick a route with a good amount of shade.
Expect your dog to walk on boiling surfaces
Again, if you are tiptoe-sprinting over a surface like hot coal, your dog’s paws are probably burning too. Tarmac and sand can be too much for a dog’s foot pads after a roasting in the sun, so help him or her find another way.
Over-cool your dog
If you do sense your dog is overheating – even if they have severe heatstroke symptoms – be wary over-cooling. Ice baths, for example, could send your pet into shock if its body temperature is very high. Stick to cool towels and single ice cubes. Give them small sips of water rather than enormous gulps.