• NEMM

Pet owners urged to prepare for hot weather

The RSPCA is urging pet owners and animal lovers to make plans and provisions now to protect pets during the upcoming spell of hot weather.


The urgent advice comes as the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has issued a heat-health alert following Met Office forecasts of very high temperatures this weekend.


Every summer the RSPCA receives hundreds of reports of animals suffering from heat exposure, including dogs left in hot cars, pets with heat burns on their paws from pavements, dehydrated wild animals after water supplies have dried up, grazing animals with no shade, and dogs over-exercised in the heat.



A dog inside a car is checked by a police officer. Photo: RSPCA


The charity is asking owners of all pets - from cats and dogs to small furries, horses and farm animals - to make provisions now, and is also calling on animal champions to help look out for wildlife in the hot weather too.


Every year, the RSPCA and other animal welfare groups issue a stark and serious warning to dog owners never to leave a dog in a hot car, and report it immediately if they see a dog in a hot car. This year, the coalition group is also highlighting the health risks of walking dogs during hotter weather, including sunstroke and overheating, as well as pets burning their pads on scorching pavements.


Esme Wheeler, RSPCA dog welfare specialist, said it’s vital that pet owners start planning ahead now to make sure they do everything they can to keep pets safe during the summer.


She said: “By making a note of our top tips for keeping pets cools, as well as familiarising themselves with the signs of heatstroke in pets, owners will be taking fantastic steps to keeping their pets safe this week. With just a few simple tweaks to their routine and a bit of planning ahead, you really can make a huge difference to your pets comfort during the hot weather, and in some cases, you may well be saving their lives.”


She added that dog owners should be particularly aware of the dangers of walking their pets during high temperatures.


“While the majority of us would never leave our dogs in a car on a hot day, or even take our dogs for a really long walk in the heat, many people may still be putting their dogs at risk even on a short walk, or by taking them to places such as fields and beaches with little or no shade, but the truth is, walking dogs in hot weather can be a silent killer,” she said.


“We have long-campaigned about the risk of dogs dying in hot cars, but this year we’re highlighting that dogs die on hot walks, too. The message remains very simple - never leave a dog in a hot car because ‘not long’ is too long, and when it comes to walks, ‘if in doubt, don’t go out’.”


Top tips for pet owners in hot weather


Dogs

  • Never leave your dog in a vehicle. Dogs die in hot cars. Call 999 in an emergency if you see a dog in a hot car.

  • All dogs need extra care during summer.

  • Exercise dogs in the early morning or late evening when temperatures are cooler - but don’t be afraid to skip a walk altogether if it’s too hot. Remember: If in doubt, don’t go out.

  • Keep a close eye on older dogs, those with thicker coats or flat faces, and those with existing health conditions.

  • Remember, pavements can get very hot in the warm weather - if you can't comfortably keep your hand on the ground for five seconds then it’s too hot for your pooch’s paws too! Sadly, we have been called in the past about dogs with burned pads.

  • Have a go at making some frozen dog treats to keep your pooch cool.

  • Use cold treats from the fridge for added moisture or make an ice lolly for your dog 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 them around water.

  • Wrap an ice pack or frozen water bottle in a tea towel, or use damp towels for your pet to lie on.

  • Be aware of the signs of heat-related illness in dogs so you can take action and seek urgent veterinary care as soon as possible if necessary - excessive panting or unusual breathing noise, change in behaviour and lethargy, stumbling, any blue/grey tinge to gums or tongue.


Cats, small furries, fish & pet chickens

  • Watch our video on how to keep cats cool in hot weather.

  • Pop a cool damp towel down in case your cat finds this comfortable to rest on.

  • Don’t let your pet get sunburnt - use pet-safe sun cream on ears and other exposed areas if necessary.

  • Check small animals, poultry and other pets twice a day for flystrike.

  • Keep guinea pigs cool and hydrated by making them a fresh vegetable treat.

  • Ensure rabbits and guinea pigs have constant access to shade and fresh drinking water at all times, and remember that as the sun moves during the day so too does the shade. Somewhere that was shaded in the morning could be in full sun by the afternoon.

  • Freeze a semi-full plastic bottle of water and wrap it in a towel so your pets can lie against it.

  • Those with pet chickens can encourage them to stay in shaded areas by hanging up a homemade vegetable garland for chickens.

  • Keep fish tanks out of direct sunlight.


Horses and farm animals

  • Check water troughs are working properly and clean out any algae or debris.

  • For horses stabled during the day out of the heat, try making them our horse and pony boredom buster treat.

  • A non-toxic fly repellent spray and a fly mask can help keep horses protected from bugs.

  • Plan exercising and travelling horses at either end of the day when temperatures are lower.

  • Use pet-safe sunscreen on horses’ muzzles if necessary.

  • Know the signs of dehydration in horses so you can contact a vet if needed.

  • Make sure pet pigs have plenty of wet mud to wallow in as well as shade.


Wildlife

  • Leave a bowl of fresh drinking water in your garden for birds and other wildlife.

  • Top up water levels of ponds.

  • Keep an eye out for wildlife when using lawnmowers or strimmers.


Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Blue Cross, British Parking Association, British Veterinary Association (BVA), Dogs Trust, The Kennel Club, The Mayhew Animal Home, National Animal Welfare Trust, The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC), PDSA, RSPCA, Scottish SPCA, #TeamOtisUK, Woodgreen Pets Charity and RVC VetCompass have teamed up to spread the message: Dogs Die in Hot Cars and Dogs Die On Hot Walks.



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