The RSPCA’s is releasing a how-to guide for pet owners to help them keep their pets safe in the heatwave, and is warning new fashionable dog breed owners that their pets could be more vulnerable in the hot weather.
While the following focusses a lot on our canine friends we do also have an in-depth guide on cats here.
Pet welfare experts at the RSPCA fear the heatwave could cost many pets’ lives as owners do not consider the risks of heatstroke and heat-related illnesses.
Lisa Hens, from the charity, said: “The heat can be incredibly dangerous for our pets and it’s really important that we follow a few simple steps to keep our beloved furry friends safe. Never leave a dog in a car in the warm weather, only exercise your pets during the coolest parts of the day – or avoid taking them out altogether – and always ensure that they have access to cool, shady areas and fresh drinking water.”
The advice comes after the charity received 593 reports of dogs trapped in hot cars* – 49 in the last week – and following tragic reports of pets suffering after being shut in cars on hot days and dogs dying after going for short walks in the sunshine.
“Some pets can be much more vulnerable to the effects of the heat so it’s important that owners are incredibly cautious during these extended periods of warm weather,” Lisa added. “People with older dogs, overweight pets or those with underlying health problems need to be particularly alert to the problems of heat exhaustion and heatstroke. But there are also some breeds that can be at a heightened risk, such as flat-faced breeds like French bulldogs and pugs who can find it difficult to breathe and cool down during normal weather, as well as breeds with thick and heavy coats who may struggle in the heat.”
‘Call police in an emergency’
RSPCA chief inspectorate officer Dermot Murphy said: “We’re incredibly busy at the moment and we’re struggling to keep up with the demand for our help. We’re reminding the public to call police on 999 if they see a dog in a hot car in distress as it’s important officers attend as quickly as possible and have the right to access the vehicle, which our rescuers don’t have.
“We’d also ask callers to be patient with us as we try to help as many animals as possible, and to also help where they can. If you come across an animal in need, please see if you can find advice on our website or take the animal to a local vet. However, if there are no other options, don’t hesitate to call us on 0300 1234 999 for help.”
1️⃣ Don’t let your pet get sunburnt – use pet-safe sun cream.
2️⃣ Ensure animals have access to shade and fresh drinking water at all times.
3️⃣ Never leave pets in vehicles, caravans, conservatories or outbuildings in the warm weather.
4️⃣ Keep fish tanks out of direct sunlight and top up water levels of ponds.
5️⃣ Keep an eye out for wildlife when using lawnmowers or strimmers and remember that snakes are most active in June/July so don’t be surprised if you come across one.
6️⃣ Keep in mind that pavements can get very hot in the warm weather – if it’s too hot to touch with your hand, then it’s too hot for a dog’s paws.
7️⃣ Buy a cooling mat, wrap an ice pack or frozen water bottle in a tea towel, or use damp towels for your pet to lie on.
8️⃣ Avoid exercising dogs and horses in excessively hot weather; walk or ride in the morning or evening when it’s cooler.
9️⃣ Transportation of farm animals in hot weather should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.
? Some exotic pets such as snakes and tortoises are good escape artists so check vivariums are secured and take care if allowing reptiles to exercise or bask out in the garden.
Ways to help your pets stay cool at night
? If horses or livestock are housed during hot weather, buildings must be adequately ventilated and monitored regularly.
? Ensure your pets can access a cool room at night – like a kitchen with a cool, tiled floor to lie on – so they can cool themselves down.
? Provide a cool stream of air by keeping windows open if possible or using a fan.
? Put out shallow dishes of water and food for wildlife who may be struggling in the hot weather.
Five ways to have fun (and stay safe) with your dog during a heatwave
☀️ Get wet and wild: Fill a paddling pool or spray a hose or sprinkler for your dog to play in; but always supervise them around water, and don’t force them in if they’re nervous.
☀️ Tasty treats: Freeze your dog’s kong, make some tasty ice cube treats (here’s a recipe!), or make an ice lolly from pet-friendly ingredients. You could even freeze your dog’s water bowl or add ice cubes to their water.
☀️ Learn a new skill: Going for a long walk may tire your pet out but it isn’t safe during hot weather; practice a new trick or learn a new skill instead. It’s a great way to mentally tire out your pup.
☀️ Get sniffing: Using their nose is mentally stimulating for dogs; hide treats or toys around the garden instead of going for walkies.
☀️ Stay inside: Build a fort or curl up together on the sofa to watch a movie with your best pal; and both of you can stay cool!
What are the signs of heatstroke?
If an animal gets too hot then they can suffer from heatstroke which can cause their organs to fail and can be fatal.
Early signs to watch out for:
- laboured breathing
- lethargy (seeming tired or not wanting to exercise)
- panting and profuse salivation
Taking action if you see these early signs is vital to stop it getting worse.
- overly red or purple gums
- a rapid pulse
- lack of coordination
- reluctance or inability to rise after collapsing
- vomiting or diarrhoea
Owners who fear their dog may be suffering from heatstroke should act with great urgency. Pets should be moved to a cooler spot straight away before ringing your vet for advice immediately.
What to do if you find a dog in a car?
In an emergency please dial 999 and request police help. If the situation becomes critical and police can’t attend, many people’s instinct is to break into the car to free the dog. But please be aware that, without proper justification, this could be classed as criminal damage. Make sure you tell the police of your intentions and take photos or footage of the dog as well as names and numbers of witnesses. The law states that you have a lawful excuse to commit damage if you believe that the owner of the property that you damage would consent to the damage if they knew the circumstances.
Once removed from the car, move the dog to a shaded/cool area and pour small amounts of room-temperature water over their body. Don’t use cold water as this could put them into shock. Allow the dog to drink small amounts of cool water and take them to a vet as soon as possible.
If the dog isn’t displaying signs of heatstroke, establish how long the dog has been in the car and make a note of the registration. Ask a member of staff to make an announcement of the situation over the tannoy, if possible, and get someone to stay with the dog to monitor its condition.