Help your pets keep their cool
Tips on keeping your furry friends safe and comfortable in warm weather
We may not be back at the heady heights of July but when we hit warm days animals wearing fur coats will feel it more. My sister-in-law took to emptying her water bottle over her dog at a recent cricket match!
Hannah James of Brighton’s The Pet Shed is the current proud pet parent of 16 including her dog Bourbon (a regular at her shop), three cats, two snakes, turkeys, chickens, guinea pigs and Starsky the Tortoise. Here are her tips for helping your furry and feathered friends keep their cool.
Most pets naturally regulate their own body temperature by keeping movement to a minimum and staying in the shade. You can help by providing cool mats at home for all pets, and when out and about with dogs cooling coats and cooling bandanas help keep body temperature down.
Never walk your dog during the hottest part of the day. Generally it is safe up to 19°C (68°F) so early morning or late evening is best. If in doubt, do the pavement test. Stand on the pavement barefoot for five seconds or place your hand on the pavement for 10 seconds. If it is too hot for you it is too hot for your dog. And of course NEVER LEAVE YOUR DOG IN A HOT CAR!
At other times you can entertain your dog with a healthy chew treat (such as a pizzle, pig ear or tendon) or one of the fun dog toys on the market that can be frozen or soaked in water to encourage hydration. If you feed wet food as part of their normal diet you can also freeze this inside a Kong (dog toy with an opening for treats).
Frozen iced treats are becoming more widely available at your local pet shop or you can also make your own ‘pupsicles’ (there are lots of recipes online). Or, freeze a bowl of water with lots of goodies hidden inside (such as peanut butter, banana, carrots etc). Just tip out onto the garden and watch them enjoy. Some dogs also just like crunching ice cubes!
Small animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs, can benefit from a covered, frozen bottle of water, left strategically in a run or hutch.
Never leave caged birds near a window and keep the air flowing where possible for all animals that need to stay indoors.
Do ensure you have adequate supplies of water both inside and outside (wild animals will also benefit from water outside) and top up regularly.
It is also good to know the signs of heat stroke. In dogs this can be excessive or loud panting, extreme thirst, vomiting, a bright red tongue and pale gums, thick saliva and an increased heart rate.
In cats look for rapid pulse and breathing, redness of the tongue and mouth, vomiting, lethargy and a stumbling, staggering gait. If you suspect your pet has heat stroke don’t give ice or iced water, wet your pet down with room temperature water (paying particular attention to armpits and the underside) and take them straight to the vets.