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5 tips for pets in hot weather

2 bulldogs on a beach with a yellow frisby

Pete The Vet General

The summer is here, and while we humans enjoy the warmth and brightness of sunny days, it isn’t always such fun for our pets.

Here are five top tips to keep pets safe and comfortable in the summer time.

1. Learn the signs of heat stroke in dogs

Everyone knows about the risk of leaving a dog in a parked car, but there are other, less well-known situations where dogs can develop dangerous heat stroke. Examples include exercising a dog strenuously on a warm day (even when it’s not sunny): the heat generated by their muscles can be enough to cause a crisis. When you are out with your dog on a warm day, be aware that if they flop to the ground, panting and unwilling to walk, there’s a high chance that this could be heat stroke.

2. Learn lifesaving actions for dogs with heat stroke

Heat stroke is an emergency: if overheated dogs are not given urgent effective treatment, they can die. First, phone your local vet. There may be specific individual and local aspects of the situation that you need to know about. So get out your mobile phone, and call your vet, even if it’s the weekend. Second, depending on the advice of your vet, cool your dog down. If necessary, carry your dog to a source of water, and soak them. Cool water, applied to the body, is the fastest way to bring the temperature down. Don’t overdo it: when your dog stops panting and wants to get out, allow them to do so. And do follow up with a visit to your vet to make sure there are no other issues happening.

3. Feed your pets less but give plenty of water

Pets need fewer calories in warm weather, as they have less of a need to generate body heat to keep themselves warm. As food digests, heat is generated, and your pet can do without that in the summer. So cut back the daily meals by 10-20%. And don’t forget to provide plentiful drinking water at all times, even taking some with you to offer during a walk using a portable drinking container.

4. Exercise your pet early in the morning and late in the evening

Dogs – and cats – enjoy being out and about at the cooler times of the day, and there’s less chance of them developing an overheating crisis. So spend time with our pet before the sun has heated up in the morning, and after the sun has cooled down in the evening.

5. Protect your pet from sunburn and skin cancer

Pets with pigmented fur and skin have natural protection from the rays of the sun and do not require the application of sun block. However pets with white fur and skin may need extra protection.

Dogs can suffer from sunburn, on the tip of the nose, the ears and the underbelly

White cats are prone to sunburn of the tip of the nose and the ears, and in cats this can transform into malignant skin cancer, so protection is especially important.

Use a pet-specific sun block if possible: if this is unavailable, use a hypoallergenic, water-resistant, high SPF rating sun block of the type marketed for babies. Apply this daily to the sensitive parts of your pet on sunny days.

With some small adjustments to their daily routine, summer can be as enjoyable for pets as it is for their owners.


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