Research from Confused.com has recently revealed that one in four motorists admit to leaving their pets in their vehicle. Unbelievably, 75 per cent of these admitted that they have done so in warm weather.
With this weekend set to be a scorcher, pet food brand Natural Instinct offers some vital advice from animal behaviourist Kirsten Dillon on how to ensure your dog is comfortable in the heat.
Always carry water
Provision of cool water is vital, even in the mildest of heat. Make sure your pet always has access to water, day or night, when you’re travelling, on walks, vet visits – in short, everywhere!
Seek the shade
Never underestimate the importance of shade. The temperature can vary alarmingly between direct sunlight and shaded areas, so make sure your pet has access to shade wherever you are. Choose woodland walks, or invest in a parasol for the beach.
A trip to the groomers
Long haired breeds should be clipped for the summer, especially those such as Huskies or German Shepherd types. However, never let your groomer remove their undercoat. As much as this keeps them warm in the winter it also keeps them cool in the summer, so leave it be.
Consider your pooch’s paws
Dog’s paws are nowhere near as tough as even the flimsiest of our shoes. Their pads are not dissimilar to our thumb pad. So, if you’re not sure about the temperature of the ground, press your thumb against it for 20 seconds and see how it feels.
Head for the shade, and walk on grass or earth whenever possible. Concrete and asphalt get brutally hot much more quickly.
Animals need sunscreen too
If your pet has white fur, a thin coat or exposed patches of low pigment (pink) skin – or indeed if they like to sunbathe on their back – you will need to use a pet-friendly sunscreen. Human sunscreens have harmful ingredients that are toxic to dogs if ingested, so it’s important to invest in a speciality one.
Let them rest
No dog has ever been seriously negatively affected by missing the odd walk in the heat. If you can’t get out to walk them very early or very late in the day, then simply don’t go for a walk. In high temperatures, your dog will actually thank you for it.
Look out for signs of heatstroke
If you think your pet has heatstroke, here are some signs to look out for:
- Panting, which will increase as the heatstroke progresses
- Drooling or salivating
- Acting lethargic and sleepy, or sometimes becoming agitated
- Bright red tongue
- Very red or pale gums
- Increased heart rate
- Breathing distress
- Vomiting, diarrhoea (possibly with blood)
Treatment for heatstroke is to make the dog as cool as possible. Remove the dog to a cool area, use cool (not very cold) water and apply to lips, ears and coat.
Apply a wet towel, but for no more than 5 minutes as it will begin to heat up. Try to get the dog to drink small amounts. Seek veterinary help immediately, even if you think your pet has made a full recovery.