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Expert advice on how to keep pets cool and safe in the sun

It’s lovely when the sun is shining but when the weather hots up we need to have a little more consideration for our furry friends

On social media people have shared horrified posts about seeing dogs sweltering in cars and wincing as they walk on hot pavements.

One woman even had to give a dog treatment for heatstroke after it collapse while out RUNNING with its owner in the blistering heat.

Fortunately, she had done one of Rachel Bean’s first aid courses which you can read here, First Aid tips for dog owners.

After seeing so many worrying reports, I thought I’d put together some expert advice from Vets4PetsCats Protection and the RSPCA  for pet owners on how to keep pets safe in the sun.

DON’T leave pets in the car, caravan or conservatory

I KNOW this is obvious, but people still leave dogs in cars and Facebook is full of posts about it. Any space that can heat up is a risk.

Dr Huw Stacey, director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, said: “Every year, pets suffer or even die when their owners make the mistake of leaving them inside a parked car, even if it is just for a few minutes.

“Owners know to never leave their dog in a car on a warm day but not everyone is aware that conservatories and caravans can be equally as dangerous.

“Cars, conservatories and caravans all act as a sun trap, and even if it feels relatively mild outside, temperatures inside can soar between 38 and 50 degrees in minutes.

“Being subjected to these kinds of temperatures can lead to heatstroke and fatal brain or organ damage. A mortality rate of 50 per cent has been reported if temperatures reach 65 degrees, which can easily happen in a car or conservatory on a hot day.”

If you go on a car journey with your pet, make sure you have at least five litres of water with you in case of a breakdown and towels to wet to cool them down.

DO make sure they stay hydrated

Again, it’s an obvious thing to do but be conscious of how much your pet drinks and make sure they always have a fresh supply of water.

Signs of dehydration are sunken eyes, little or no urination and dry, sticky gums. Eventually dehydration can lead to collapse and kidney failure.

For heatstroke, the signs are heavy panting, excessive drooling, reddened gums, lethargy, drowsiness, lack of coordination, vomiting and collapse.

Huw says: “If an animal is displaying these symptoms, move them to a cool area and call a local vet immediately.”

Is it a huge water bowl? Puppy Layla and her pawdling pool

Is it a huge water bowl? Puppy Layla and her pawdling pool

DON’T walk dogs in the middle of the day

Exercise in the morning and evening when it’s cool. Think about what it’s like walking on the sand with no flip flops. You only last a few seconds don’t you? And it’s just the same for their paws.

If temperatures hit 30 degrees – and it’s been like that all week so far – the asphalt on the pavement is double that – 60 degrees. OUCH! 

“Asphalt can become far too hot for pets’ sensitive paws and pads and can cause burns, blisters and permanent scarring after just one minute of contact,” says Huw.

“Keeping pets in shaded areas and walking dogs at cooler times of the day can help avoid burnt paws.

“With smaller pets like rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters, move their cages or hutches into shaded areas of the garden or into a cool area of the house, garage or shed.”

DO protect their skin from sunburn

Cats Protection has warned about the skin cancer risk faced by felines.

Cats with pale or white ears and noses are particularly susceptible as they don’t have menalin, a pigment that protects from sunlight. 

Back in 2019, they dealt with a 13-year-old cat named Tiara who needed her ears removed due to sun damage.

Louise Waters from the charity said: “Over time, the damage caused can increase the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma which is a skin cancer that occurs when the skin becomes damaged from overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

“The best way to protect your cat is by keeping him or her indoors during the hottest part of the day, particularly during the summer months.”

She recommends owners use sunscreen provided by their vet – dogs and horses with white or pink patches can use this too.

Lilliput aka Little London Maltese and her brother Titch in the pool in Cyprus

DO have fun

While I can’t bear the thought of pets suffering I don’t want to sound like the fun police so I’m going to finish with some ways to keep safe in the sun from the RSPCA.

  • Freeze your dog’s Kong, put ice cubes in their water and make sure carrots you give to horses are from the fridge.
  • Get the pawd-ling pool out! If your pet enjoys water, then a hose, sprinkler or kiddies paddling pool is a nice way to cool down.
  • Make an ice lolly from pet friendly ingredients. There’s lots of recipes online.
  • Put towels in the freezer so they have something cool to lie on.
  • Try apple bobbing with chopped apple or floating bits of carrot – that’s what Vix Ford from the RSCPA Lockwood centre for horses does!
  • Finally, see if your pup likes Frozzys frozen yoghurt for dogs – you can find your nearest stockist at Don’t give them human ice-cream though, as they can’t digest lactose.

Thanks to our furiends Layla and Lilliput for sharing their photos. To follow Layla on Instagram, she’s @laylathewhiteboxerdog and Lilliput is @little_london_maltese

Is your pet having fun (and staying safe) in the sun? We’d love to see your pics! Find and tag us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

If you liked this post, you might enjoy Ten tips for taking your pooch on holiday or Seven fun ways to keep your pet cool in the sun.

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