Ah, summer. You look forward to it, but then spend all your time grumbling about how hot it is… especially if you’re a four-legged friend!
The best way to keep pets cool is to keep them out of the sun completely, but that’s not always possible. When the simple answer isn’t so simple, we’ve got a whole bag full of extra tips to help your pet beat the heat this summer.
Don’t leave your pets in a parked car
Ever. Under any circumstances. Not even for a minute, no matter how good your air conditioning is. In temperatures of just 22°C, the interior of a car can quickly skyrocket to 47°C. Just 6 minutes can be far too long for your pet, so please don’t risk it!
Do keep an eye on humidity
Humidity can do as much damage as ambient temperatures, as it prevents panting from cooling an animal down. Less than 60% humidity is comfortable for furry friends.
Don’t over exercise your pets
If it has to happen, aim for early morning or evening exercise, and be especially careful when exercising pale-coloured or short-nosed pets, as they struggle in the heat.
Do use brain games
Too hot for any sort of walk? Stimulate your pet with some brain games, teach them a trick, or refresh their basic training instead.
Don’t walk on hot surfaces
No, we don’t mean the proverbial bed of hot coals, but just concrete, tarmac or sand. If it’s 25°C outside, it can be 52°C on asphalt. Try testing a surface with the back of your hand for 5-7 seconds. If it feels too hot to you, it’s painful for paws!
Do give them lots of water and shade
Give your pet constant access to fresh water, with added ice during heat waves. Look for shade and good ventilation (even when you’re indoors).
Don’t be careless of swimming
Some water sources can contain harmful parasites or bacteria (like blue/green algae) that can affect pets. Find clear, clean and shallow streams for your pet to paddle in. Rinse their coat thoroughly afterwards and give them separate water to drink. Avoid water with currents too.
Do keep dogs groomed
A clean, clipped, knot-free coat can actually help to keep a dog cooler.
Did you know that different types of dogs need different types of grooming? Long-haired dog breeds need to be free of matting and tangles, but it would be detrimental to shave a husky.
Don’t depend on fans
Fans don’t cool pets down as much as they do humans! Our animal friends are different, and don’t necessarily sweat much. They may enjoy the sensation of a fan, but without sweat evaporation they may not be cooled. Give them damp towels to lie on, or wet their feet instead.
Do use suncream!
As long as it’s on exposed skin (nose, ear tips, bellies and inside back legs), and is branded as non-toxic and pet safe. Human-specific sunscreen can contain zinc oxide, PABA or salicylates that are toxic to pets. As an alternative idea, you could even protect a dog with an old t-shirt!
Don’t give them an ice lolly
They might be your “babies”, but they’re still not human (sorry!). A healthy pet may be able to tolerate a bit of an ice lolly, but manufactured human treats can easily make them sick. There’s simply too much sugar in them. But some frozen pet-friendly treats… now we’re talking!
Do keep tabs on pets
Especially cats! You don’t want them to get accidentally locked in a hot shed or greenhouse, or to be outside in the full heat of the day.
Don’t forget wildlife
Why not put some cool, fresh water in your garden? Some wilting wildlife will doubtlessly love you for doing it. You can also create shelter by letting plants grow or keeping log piles, and provide food via feeders or well-watered flowers and berry-producing plants.
Do act fast in cases of heatstroke
Sometimes your pet can overheat, despite your best efforts. Signs of heatstroke include:
- Excessive panting.
- Excessive drooling.
- Lack of coordination.
- Rapid heart rate.
- Rapid pulse rate.
- Bright red gums/tongue.
- Loss of consciousness.
If you think your pet has heat stroke, you should immediately:
- Find a cooler and more shaded place.
- Offer them small amounts of water.
- Gently bathe them in cool (not freezing) water.
- Call the vet (even if they seem better).
Caring for the special animals in our life is definitely a full time job. It’s a task that goes way beyond the summer months! For example:
- You may have to comfort your pet during strong wind, thunder and lightning.
- The above is doubly true on Bonfire night, which can be a major challenge.
- During the winter, pets can feel the “winter blues”, just like us humans.
- Cold terrain can be just as problematic for pet paws as hot concrete!
- The clocks going forward or backwards can negatively affect your pet.
- You may have to work out how to best include your pet during Christmas festivities.
- When you’re away from home, there are challenges to remain connected to your pet.
And, of course, these are just specifics. There are 365 days in a year, and your pet needs you on every single one of them.