Summer Health For Pets
Find out about keeping your pet healthy and happy in the summer.
As the UK's leading veterinary charity, PDSA treats thousands of sick or injured pets every day. Sadly, some of them are pets whose holiday have not gone according to plan.
That's why PDSA has produced a new essential guide to making holiday time happy and safe for you and your pet. Download your free copy of PDSA holiday health for pets (PDF - 1.41 MB).
In the new leaflet, PDSA holiday health for pets, you'll find all the infomation you need whether your pets are holidaying with you or staying at home.
If your looking for a long weekend in the country or a holiday at the coast then take a look at our Holiday Cottages page for a great range of holiday breaks available through cottages4you and PDSA.
With the weather warming up, many people will be stoking up their barbecues. But pet owners should take extra precautions to ensure their pets stay safe when the heat is on.
PDSA advises owners to take a few simple precautions to safeguard their pets:
- Skip the scraps - eating barbecue scraps can upset your pet’s stomach. Undercooked, unfamiliar or fatty food can cause vomiting and diarrhoea.
- Bin it – make sure any leftover food and rubbish is properly thrown away in a lidded dustbin. A very common barbecue-related problem seen by PDSA vets is pets that have eaten corn on the cob cores. These can cause a serious blockage and have to be surgically removed.
- Don’t be a ‘fuel’ - lighter fluid contains hydrocarbons (derived from crude oil), which can prove fatal if ingested. So keep it well out of reach.
- Flamin’ hot – playing around a barbecue can lead to severe burns, so pets should be kept well away from flames and burning embers.
- Slap on the sun cream – pets can suffer from sunburn and heatstroke just like humans, so if you’re enjoying the sun ensure your four-legged friends have access to shade and plenty of fresh water. Special pet sun creams can be used on pets with white fur or damaged skin.
- Watch what you drink – make sure that glasses and drinks are not within reach of thirsty pets. Alcohol can be particularly hazardous for pets and glass bottles or cups can be easily knocked over and smash – so plastic cups are a much better option.
Never leave pets in cars, conservatories or caravans, even just for a short time with the windows open, as this makes little difference and you could be unexpectedly delayed. The temperature can soar dangerously high in just a few minutes, causing potentially fatal heatstroke. This happens when a pet is unable to regulate its normal body temperature and can lead to kidney failure and long term damage to other internal organs, and can eventually be fatal.
Make sure your cat or dog has constant access to clean, fresh drinking water – check dishes twice a day and take plenty of water if you go out.
Don’t let pets sit out in strong sunshine for too long, and ensure they always have access to shade. To avoid sunburn use pet sunblock to protect pets with pale or thin fur, particularly on hairless areas such as dogs’ noses and cats’ ear tips. Avoid walking dogs in the midday heat and instead go out in the morning and evening when it is cooler. Keep your pet’s hair short to help them keep cool – getting dogs clipped for summer can make a big difference.
Signs of heatstroke in cats and dogs include excessive panting, extreme salivation, distress and collapse. The recommended treatment for heat stroke is to get the pet’s temperature down by immersing the patient in cool, but not ice cold, water and gradually decreasing the water temperature. Don’t throw icy water over them, as this decreases their temperature too quickly. Alternatively put water soaked towels over your pet and place them near to a cooling fan. Make sure they have as much cold water to drink as wanted, and vigorously massage the legs to help maintain the blood flow. You should also take your pet to your vet, even if they seem to have made a full recovery, in case there is any long-term damage.
Rabbits and guinea pigs are very vulnerable to heatstroke, so it is essential that they have access to shade. The entire roof of a hutch must be solid for shade and safety, and the exercise run should also have a covered area. If the weather gets very warm, move their hutch and run in to a shaded area to protect them, remembering that the sun will move during the course of the day. Never house rabbits or guinea pigs in glass buildings, such as greenhouses.
Always make sure your pets’ bottle is topped up with fresh water to help prevent overheating. Leaving a glass coffee jar filled with ice cubes will give your rabbits something cool to lie against in hot weather.
Signs of heat stroke include lethargy, drooling and shallow rapid breathing. As the condition worsens, they may fit, which increases their body temperature further. Eventually, the condition can progress to death. Heat stroke can occur when guinea pigs are exposed to temperatures above 28°C, but effects may be seen when temperatures are as low as 21°C, especially in obese, stressed or pregnant individuals.
If you are concerned that your pet may be showing signs of heat stroke, wrap them in a cool, damp towel and take them away from direct sunlight before calling your vet straight away.
Rabbits can also be prone to maggot infestations (known as flystrike) in the summer, so should be checked twice a day. If they have a dirty bottom, clean it with a damp cloth, and if you spot any signs of flystrike, call your vet for advice immediately as this can often be fatal.
Cages should be positioned out of direct sunlight and moved away from places that are likely to become hot. Always make sure your pets’ bottle is topped up with fresh water to help prevent overheating.
As with guinea pigs and rabbits, signs of possible heat stroke include lethargy, drooling and unconsciousness. It is much better to prevent the condition in the first place, but if you suspect heat stroke, wrap your pet in a cool, damp cloth and call your vet for advice.
Particular care needs to be taken if transporting small pets in a car in hot weather, e.g. to a vet’s appointment. Keep windows open when the car is moving and never leave them in a parked car, even with the windows down or if it seems cloudy outside – temperatures can rise very quickly.
Make sure fish tanks are kept in cool areas to prevent overheating, and keep an eye on the temperature.
Fish ponds should have shaded areas, plus deeper areas, to enable fish to stick to cooler waters in the hot weather.
Please note PDSA does not operate kennels or catteries, nor can the charity recommend any individual boarding establishment.
There are 4 links on this page which are in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format. In order to view them you will need the free Acrobat Reader software installed on your computer.