Animal charity has vital advice for pet owners on how to protect their animals during this hot weather
As temperatures soar, the RSPCA is providing advice to pet-owners on how to keep their animals cool and to make sure they are doing everything possible to keep them safe this summer.
The RSPCA’s animal centres have planned ahead for the heatwave by following the charity’s own advice on caring for animals in hot weather.
The charity is asking owners of all pets1 – from cats and dogs to small furries, horses and farm animals – to follow hot weather advice, and is also calling on animal champions to help look out for wildlife in the hot weather too.
Included in the many important strategies the animal centres have put into place are exercising the animals only when it is cooler in the early morning or evening, ensuring there’s plenty of accessible shade throughout the day, providing cold treats such as frozen kongs, supplying paddling pools for the water-loving dogs to romp in2, making cool, muddy wallows for the pigs and keeping a very close eye out for any animals which may be struggling in the heat.
Esme Wheeler, RSPCA dog welfare specialist, said it’s vital that pet owners do everything they can to keep pets safe during this heatwave.
She said: “By following our top tips for keeping pets cools, as well as familiarising themselves with the signs of heatstroke in pets, owners will be taking effective steps to keep their pets safe this week. With just a few simple tweaks to their routine and a bit of planning ahead, they really can make a huge difference to their pet’s comfort during the hot weather, and in some cases, may well be saving their lives.”
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.
Esme 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’.”
For more advice about keeping animals safe in the summer heat, please visit the RSPCA’s website.
To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit their website or call their donation line on 0300 123 8181.
Top tips for pet owners in hot weather
● 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 cannnog 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.
Top tips for cats, small furries, fish and 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.
● 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.
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