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So, summer is great, isn’t it? If we think of a “normal” summer, we think of taking time off from work and going on holiday. You might choose to go camping or go to a hotel. And you especially look forward to the good weather. The welfare of your furry family member(s) is of paramount importance, so keeping pets cool in summer will be a priority.
Here are some reasons why keeping pets cool in summer is the cool thing to do:
Signs of heatstroke in dogs are:
- Panting heavily
- Difficulty with breathing
- Fast heartbeat
- Dark red gums or tongue
If you see these symptoms, get to the vets straight away.
Take walks early morning or late evening and always carry a bottle of water for both yourself and your woofie! It’s so easy for your dog’s pads to overheat and even burn on hot asphalt/tarmac/sand at the beach. Besides panting, dogs release body heat through their pads, so these need protecting. If possible, choose to walk on the grass or on the shaded side of the street. Remember, if the floor feels hot to the touch with your hand, it will be even hotter for them.
There are booties or wax available for paw protection. Still, I wouldn’t recommend them as the pads are only one of the very few heat-release areas of the animal.
If you usually go jogging or cycling with your dog tagging along behind, please avoid this in the summer. Even in the small hours when the temperature is lower, even if you are able to run, you won’t be able to see if your dog is struggling, even if they’re running at your side as you will be focused on your own run. We recommend just walking so you can frequently stop to let them drink.
Our pug friends (and similar)
Brachycephalic breeds have shorter airways and cannot pant enough if hot, older dogs especially. Take extra care to keep them cooled down.
A pet cooling mat might be appreciated. They come in all sizes.
Having a splashing time!
Provide a doggie paddling pool for lots of splashing and frolicking about in. And not only the dog! If you don’t have a pool, you can use a hosepipe or sprinkler and play with the dog as they jump about with you (not too much in this heat) and try to “catch” the water in their mouths.
If they like rolling about on the grass, and let’s face it, there aren’t many dogs who don’t, give them a good hose-down and rub off before going back in the house again.
You might be lucky to have a doggie park with its own pool nearby where you live. They will love socialising with other dogs, swimming and playing together. Here is an example.
Make an ice globe or an ice sausage!
Fill up a balloon with water and put it in the freezer. Let it freeze and then remove the balloon and place the ice on a tray for the dog to lick or knockabout. Probably best out in the garden.
Icy Treats for Dogs
Human ice-cream is not suitable for dogs. It contains all kinds of things which are not nutritious, even for us. Instead, try following one or two of the recipes found online and make up a delicious treat for your pooch. YouTube has quite a few videos for you. Popsicles are another example.
You could even take their regular tinned food and fill up a Kong and freeze that. Peanut butter is another option. Whenever there’s a hot spell, you will have something already on standby to cool your dog down.
Don’t leave your pets inside the car, please
A window cracked slightly open isn’t sufficient!
It is so easy for an animal, dogs especially, to overheat which can be fatal.
Every year, the public is reminded not to leave dogs alone in their cars or caravans where temperatures can rise incredibly quickly, even on mild days. Even when parked in a shady spot, the temperature inside the vehicle can be deadly.
If you see an animal in a car or caravan, please be concerned about their welfare. Call the Police emergency number for where you live, i.e. 999 UK, 911 the USA or 112 UK/Europe. The Police have the right to enter the vehicle or property if they see an animal in distress, even when there’s a window slightly open.
If in doubt, do not leave an animal in the car, not even for a couple of minutes. It could be fatal.
Virus’ are more prevalent in hotter months, such as Parvovirus. Keeping vaccinations up to date will obviously avoid this. With the heat comes a higher risk of mosquito bites, fleas, worms… stick to your regular vaccination programmes and monthly topical treatments.
Cats show a variety of behavioural traits when they feel the heat. These might be:
- Anti-social, hiding in the dark
- They meow more often
- They are more tired.
Signs of heatstroke in cats are:
- Wobbly on their feet.
Paddling pools are not only for dogs!
Maybe you have a cat who isn’t scared of the water. As cats sweat through their paw pads, why not allow them to have a dip and cool down their little paws?
If a paddling pool is not possible, give your cat a shallow bath or a quick shower but don’t use freezing water as this will be a shock to their system. Test the water temperature on yourself before your cat and avoid getting water in their ears or on their face.
Do you have tiles on the kitchen floor?
They will love it. The coolness of the tiles will be lovely to cats in the summer. If you don’t have tiles, you can get a cooling mat for your moggie.
Please do not leave your cat inside a car, even if you think the temperature is mild.
It is very dangerous.
Keep them out of conservatories, sheds and other types of outbuildings like greenhouses.
Plenty of drinking options
In summer, we place extra bowls of water around the place, so she has more sources to drink from. She particularly likes the cat water fountain (this is the one we have) and doesn’t just use it for drinking from. Standing side-on, she can get her body wet too.
An alternative to the ice globe/sausage mentioned above for dogs, try placing some ice cubes in a bowl for them to play with. Also, a few in their drinking water is warranted.
For wild birds, you can place a birdbath in your garden and regularly add fresh water to it. It’s a lovely sight to see the bath surrounded with birds taking a dip to freshen up.
Domestic birds might enjoy a gentle spritz of water every so often from a plastic travel bottle filled with water.
Starting in spring, begin moving fish tanks away from direct sunlight and into more shady parts of the house.
If you have a garden pond, create some shade over the top of it if there are no trees (natural shade) around.
Move hutches and other pet houses into the shade in the springtime. As a bonus, if they have an outside area to hop and scurry around in, surrounded by a pet fence, it is even better for them.
Add extra water bottles and refill these regularly.
Freeze filled plastic water bottles and place them in the hutch so they can be slept up against.
These animals need help cooling down too. Leave extra bowls of water out in the garden. I would even leave a dish or two out in the front yard also (edge of pavement), so not-so-wild dogs or cats, foxes etc. who wander by can quench their thirst.
Regular pet grooming sessions to release dead fur are recommended, and this helps keep pets cool. Don’t make the error of thinking that by clipping (shearing) your dog or cat that you will make them cooler. Please speak to a professional groomer or vet first.
A coat that you may consider thick and heavy will more than likely keep the dog fresh in summer and toastie in the winter. These coats generally have layers which allow air to flow through to the skin to allow cooling down. They also protect the skin from sunburn. Other than regular grooming to remove matted tangles and knots, there’s no need to take their coat off unless the groomer recommends it due to the breed of the dog or cat.
As you know, heat rises, so keep the flow of air circulation going around the house. You might use air-conditioning or have the windows open all the time. Free-standing or ceiling fans should be oscillating, not in a fixed position focused on the animal.
Consider closing curtains and blinds (leave windows open). Do as in the Mediterranean. Hot countries generally always have their shutters down all the time.
Use pet-friendly sunscreen protection for exposed skin – ears, pink noses, bellies – or animals with short hair. Ask your vet first regarding existing skin conditions.
If you don’t have cool floor tiles, you can always soak a blanket, shirt, towel in water and once wrung out, you can place this on the floor for your furry friend to lay on if they so wish.
Make sun shades in the garden – umbrellas simply laid on the ground or you might use those silver car sunshield shades. Perhaps a sheet tied between two trees.
- Hydration – water bowls always full and fresh. Add ice-cubes
- Cooling mats are suitable for most furry creatures
- Fresh air
- Keep tech to a minimum as devices generate lots of heat
- Refresh, frequently
- Maintain wellbeing
- High humidity, stay home in the shade
- Wipe down your pet with damp towels and damp tissues on the skin of ears
- Gentle water spray that won’t scare them
- Avoid taking walks between midday and 4 pm
- Never leave an animal in the car, albeit for a quick pop into the shop. Even on overcast days when you might think it’s not too warm, the temperature inside can rise dramatically – 38.8ºC (101.84ºF) within 10 minutes, with the window open!! Take your pet with you or leave her at home.
Keeping Pets Cool in Summer
How do your pets cope in the hot weather? Do you provide any extra care during the summer? Any suggestions gratefully received in the comments section below.
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