When the sun is shining, we can’t wait to get out there and enjoy it! Although it’s important to make sure your pets are safe when out in the heat too. We have put together some useful tips on what to look out for with your cats and dogs when it warms up.
Heatstroke can be lethal for dogs as they can’t sweat to cool down like we can. They mainly cool themselves down by panting, this works by water evaporating from their tongue, which carries excess heat away from their body. Problems occur when the dog becomes dehydrated, as panting uses up a lot of water, so it’s essential that your dog always has a plentiful water supply nearby. This is especially important for older dogs as they can have underlying health conditions and their kidneys may not be as efficient as younger dogs at conserving water. It’s also very important for short-nosed breeds, heavyset breeds or overweight dogs who can have difficulty cooling down due to narrowed airways.
The symptoms of heat stroke are as follows:
- Lethargy and lack of coordination
- Very red gums
- Excessive drooling
- Laboured breathing or rapid panting
- Vomiting and diarrhoea
- A seizure – in some cases
If you spot any of these symptoms, you will need to spring into action quickly:
- Move your dog out of the heat and splash cool water over them (don’t use cold water as this will make their temperature go down too quickly)
- Then gently fan them and give them small sips of water to drink
- Phone your vet to let them know you’ll be coming in and take your dog to the vets as soon as possible.
Top tips to keep your dog cool
Go out for a walk with your dog early in the morning or in the evening, avoiding the hottest part of the day between 11am – 3pm, your dog will thank you for it! Also, try and deter your dog from running around the garden during these times, as heating up their muscles can easily over heat them on a hot day.
If your dog is a bit of a sunbather, encourage them to sit in a shady spot, rather than in direct sunlight. When it’s really hot, keep your dog indoors with a fan on and although it may be very tempting for them, keep them away from sitting in direct sunlight by a window.
If your dog has a thick or long coat and suffers from the heat, make sure they are groomed regularly to remove dead hair and allow good air flow. Some breeds may benefit from a trim also, but it depends on the coat, so it’s best to get advice from a groomer. Shaving coats completely exposes the skin to sunburn and in some cases can actually reduce a dog’s ability to keep cool, though if a coat is matted it is sometimes necessary. If your dog has any exposed skin and is light coloured, buy some non-toxic, pet safe sun cream to put on.
Don’t ever leave your dog by itself in a car, not even for a few minutes or if it’s in the shade. This can kill a dog in a very short amount of time.
Cats are known for being big on sunbathing in the garden, or in a pool of sunshine coming through the window indoors. But through doing this they can make themselves susceptible to heatstroke and dehydration. If they come in from their session of sunbathing and seem a bit listless or lethargic, they may have heatstroke – make sure to try and encourage them to drink some water and get in touch with your vet as soon as possible.
To avoid your cat getting dehydrated, make sure to keep their water bowl topped up throughout the day and even put a bowl of water outside. Some cats enjoy moving water more than still, so consider getting a cat water fountain to encourage them to drink. You can also try coaxing them into the shade, to help keep them cool. If this doesn’t work though and your cat does become dehydrated, the symptoms to look out for are:
- Dry gums
- Fast heart rate
- Disorientation and confusion
If your cat exhibits any of these symptoms, make sure to get in contact with your vet for advice on how to proceed.
Another thing to look out for, especially with light coloured cats, is sunburn, and like us, this makes them more at risk of skin cancers in areas of thin fur like the ears and nose. If your cat has a pink or white nose or ears, pop some non-toxic, pet safe, sun cream on every day (much to their dislike, we’re sure!) to protect them from the sun. Despite being sensitive to the sun, because of their lighter coats they will be able to keep cool easier than dark coloured cats.
Ticks and fleas
Ticks and fleas are more abundant in the summer months. For more information, check out our blog about these critters >
During the spring and summer months, cats moult a lot more, as we’re sure you’ve noticed having to hoover it all up! Not all of it goes on your carpet though; when your cat washes itself it swallows fur, which then turns into hairballs.
Signs that your cat has a hairball are as follows:
- Vomit that contains hair
- Appetite loss
- Frequent dry coughing
- Constipation or hard stools (which may contain hair)
To help prevent this, give your cat a brush regularly. This will mean any loose fur will come off while you’re brushing them, and not when they’re washing themselves!