PAW-ping hot! Five top tips for keeping furry friends safe in hot weather
17 June 2022
With temperatures set to soar today, people across the country will be planning how to make the most of the heatwave but, with hot weather potentially putting dogs at risk of heatstroke, vet charity PDSA has issued advice to pet owners on how to keep their furry companions safe.
PDSA Vet Nurse, Shauna Spooner, said: “While some dogs may appreciate pleasant weather just as we do, we need to make sure we are prepared to keep our dogs safe. In warmer weather, dogs can be at risk of dangerous heatstroke, which is a serious situation as severe cases can develop quickly and have fatal consequences.
“Signs of heatstroke vary from excessive panting, confusion, bright red gums, foaming at the mouth, collapse or even seizures. Fortunately, there are plenty of things we can do to keep our pets cool and safe as temperatures climb.”
Shauna has shared her top five tips for keeping dogs cool and safe:
1. If in doubt, don’t go out
“One of the biggest heatstroke triggers is exercise in hot weather. In fact, research from 20201 shows that 74 per cent of heat-related illness in dogs seen by vets is caused by exercise in high temperatures – taking your dog out for a walk during this kind of heat can result in serious illness, or even be fatal.
"It is important to be aware that flat-faced breeds like Bulldogs, Pugs, and Shih Tzus are at even higher risk, as they can’t cool down as effectively when they pant due to the reduced space in their noses.
“Though your dog might typically enjoy long walks and frolicking around the garden, it’s best to stay indoors for the hottest part of the day. This is generally around mid-afternoon, so if you’re planning on being outside, aim for the early morning or evening. Remember, even at these times the weather can feel uncomfortably close or humid during a hot spell, so think about skipping the walks and playing some games in the house instead. If you do venture out, avoid strenuous exercise like running or games of fetch. Instead, stick to gentle walking and allow your pup plenty of time to sniff, keeping their brain active as well as their legs.
2. Provide plenty of shade and water
“If you’re planning on heading out of the house, make sure to pack a supply of water to keep your dog hydrated throughout the day. Even if it’s just for a short while and it doesn’t seem that warm to you, it’s really important to take a drink for your pooch in case they get thirsty.
“Whether you’re embarking on a stroll along a coastal trail, country lane or inner-city street, seek areas of shade and rest more often than you would if you were walking without your pet – imagine how often you’d take a break if you were hiking in a fur coat!
“Prevention is better than cure of course, so keeping your dog cool in the first place is essential when the weather gets warm. Allowing your furry friend to paddle in a shallow pool or stream is a great way to help them keep cool – just make sure the water is safe and clean before they venture in.
3. Be wary of heat traps
“Whatever the weather, you should never leave your dog in enclosed, unventilated spaces, such as cars, vans, tents, caravans, or sheds. Even humans find it unbearable sitting in a conservatory for too long on a hot day. When you’re at home with your pooch, keep windows and doors open on the shaded side of the house where it’s safe to do so as this will allow plenty of fresh air to filter into the room. If you’re leaving your furry friend at home for a short time, ensure they’re in a cool, shaded room with plenty of access to fresh water – draw the curtains, put a fan on a high shelf out of reach or leave them a pet-safe cool mat to make sure they don’t get too warm while you’re gone.
4. Cut back on the coat
“For dogs with thicker fur, hot weather can be especially uncomfortable. Brush your dog daily to remove any loose fur that can act as an insulating layer. As warm weather approaches, consider having your pooch’s coat groomed and thinned out or clipped shorter to help prevent them from over-heating. Some breeds of dog have a coat which isn’t suitable for clipping, so you should seek advice from your groomer.
5. Watch their weight
“Though this is more of a long-term issue, watching your furry family member’s weight is essential as dogs carrying extra pounds are more at risk of heatstroke – not to mention other weight-related illnesses. Keeping your pooch’s weight in check will not only help to prevent a number of additional health problems, but also stop them getting as hot in warm weather - meaning they can enjoy the heatwave safely.”
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