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Pets in heatwave: How to keep pets cool in hot weather

BY Blue Cross

22nd Jun 2023 Animals & Pets

Pets in heatwave: How to keep pets cool in hot weather

It can be a struggle for your pet to keep cool in hot weather. Pet charity Blue Cross shares how you can make sure pets don't overheat in the summer heatwave

We all love the summer sunshine, but spare a thought for our pets when the temperatures start to soar.

Katy Alexander, vet with national pet charity Blue Cross, has some top tips on how you can protect your pet throughout the hot summer.

She explains, “While we enjoy the sunshine and hot weather, it is important to make sure our pets are kept safe. They can quickly overheat and this can be extremely dangerous and even fatal.”

No afternoon walks

Walk your dog during cooler times of day in the early morning or evening and avoid strenuous games. If the weather remains hot then it’s safer to allow your pet to flop inside in the cool if you think it’s too hot outside.

Access to water bowls

Cat drinking from water bowl in summer heatwaveAccess to clean water is essential for pets in a heatwave

Make sure your pet always has access to clean water, ideally in a large bowl filled to the brim. Older animals, particularly cats, are more vulnerable to dehydration.

Alternative exercise

As a rule, if the pavement is too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your pooch’s paws. If your dog is one that needs a long walk to burn off excess energy, find other ways to stimulate them instead.

Risk of sunburn

Light-coloured dogs and cats and those with sparse hair coats can get sunburned, which can lead to skin cancer. Keep sunbathing pets indoors when the sun is strongest. You can also apply a non-toxic human sunscreen or one specifically for pets to vulnerable areas like ears and noses.

Risk of overheating

Pets with thick fur will need regular grooming and even a trim to prevent them overheating. Seek advice from a professional groomer.

Make sure your pet has access to a shady spot to chill out inside, as conservatories can also get very hot very quickly in the sunshine. You may want to invest in pet-cooling mats and fans to keep your pets and yourself as cool as possible.

Small pets in the shade

Rabbits cooling down in shadeMake sure small animals like rabbits have access to shade where they can keep cool

For small pets like rabbits and guinea pigs, make sure their hutches and runs are in a shaded area so they can keep cool and make sure the animal and their living area is clean at all times, with water bowls topped up.

Iced treats

Make ice cubes with your pet’s favourite treat inside.

Paddling pool

Dog keeping cool in paddling poolKeeping a paddling pool in the shade will give your dog somewhere to cool off

Have a paddling pool with cool water in the garden for dogs to play in. Again, keep this in the shade.

Frozen bottles and damp towels

Filling plastic bottles with water, freezing them and placing them in your pet’s bed or under damp towels is a good idea. This can work for cats and dogs but will also help small animals like rabbits.

Be aware of more at-risk pets

Pug struggling in heatwaveTake extra care with flat-faced breeds, whose breathing difficulties make the heat harder to cope with

Flat-faced breeds, such as French bulldogs, pugs and Persian cats, are at an even greater risk of heatstroke and collapse, as their short muzzles can make breathing difficult, therefore cooling down much harder.

Older pets and those who are overweight also struggle. Take even greater care with these pets.

During heatwaves, keep your pets indoors and your home cool. If you suspect your animal is suffering from heatstroke, move them to a cool place, dampen their coat with tepid water on a towel and contact a vet. Avoid overcooling, especially small pets.

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