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RSPCA issues advice on how to keep pets cool during heatwave



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A warning has been issued to pet owners to protect animals during the hot weather this week.

The RSPCA is bracing itself for a surge in calls about animals in need as a heatwave sweeps across the country this week.

With temperatures soaring as high as 32ºC yesterday, animal welfare experts and vets are urging pet owners to keep their animals safe and asking the public to take care of wildlife.

If the pavement is too hot to touch with your hand, then it is too hot for a dog’s paws, warns RSPCA. Pictures: RSPCA.
If the pavement is too hot to touch with your hand, then it is too hot for a dog’s paws, warns RSPCA. Pictures: RSPCA.

RSPCA vet Dr Michael Lazaris said: “It’s really important to take extra care of our pets during the hot weather as heat exhaustion is a life-threatening condition.

"Prevention is much better than a cure so try to keep your pets indoors or in a cool, shaded area when the temperatures are hitting 30ºC and higher.

“If your pet slows down, looks dazed, drools or pants excessively, vomits or even has a seizure then please speak to a vet as soon as possible as these are all symptoms of heatstroke.

“If your pet is elderly, overweight or has ongoing health problems or problems caused by extreme breeding - such as flat-faced dogs - then they can feel the effects of the heat more quickly so please keep that in mind.”

Pet owners are advised to let animals have a paddle and cool down.
Pet owners are advised to let animals have a paddle and cool down.

It can also be a good idea to take your pet to your local beach, creek or river to let them have a paddle and cool down. This will help your pet avoid possible dehydration, sunburn and potentially painful paws and it will help you and your pet enjoy the walk more.

Top tips:

  • Do not let your pet get sunburnt - use pet-safe sun cream.
  • Ensure animals have access to shade and fresh drinking water at all times.
  • Check every day for flystrike.
  • Keep fish tanks out of direct sunlight and top up water levels of ponds.
  • Keep an eye out for wildlife when using lawnmowers or strimmers.
  • Buy a cooling mat, wrap an ice pack or frozen water bottle in a tea towel, or use damp towels for your pet to lie on.
  • Use cold treats from the fridge or make an ice lolly from pet-friendly ingredients.
  • Freeze your dog’s water bowl or kong, or add ice cubes to your pet’s bowl.
  • Fill a paddling pool or spray a hose for your dog to play in but always supervise around water.
  • Some exotic pets such as snakes and tortoises are good escape artists so check vivariums are secured and take care if allowing reptiles to exercise or bask out in the garden.
Small pets, such as rabbits, guinea pigs and birds, are particularly susceptible to heat.
Small pets, such as rabbits, guinea pigs and birds, are particularly susceptible to heat.

During the day:

  • You should avoid exercising animals in excessively hot weather. Experts advise walking or riding in the morning or evening when it is cooler.
  • If the pavement is too hot to touch with your hand, then it is too hot for a dog’s paws.
  • Never leave pets in vehicles, caravans, conservatories or outbuildings in the warm weather. Dogs and other pets can overheat and die.
  • Transportation of farm animals in hot weather should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.
Dogs are not able to regulate their body temperature in the same way as people, so RSPCA advises to make sure they have plenty of fresh water.
Dogs are not able to regulate their body temperature in the same way as people, so RSPCA advises to make sure they have plenty of fresh water.

At night:

  • If horses or livestock are housed during hot weather, buildings must be adequately ventilated and monitored regularly.
  • Ensure your pets can access a cool room at night, like a kitchen with a cool, tiled floor to lie on.
  • Provide a cool stream of air by keeping windows open or using a fan.
  • Put out shallow dishes of water and food for wildlife who may be struggling in the hot weather due to dried up streams and hard ground.


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