The sun is shining and the temperatures are soaring, which is great news for us. But it can quickly become a dangerous situation for our furry friends - after all, would you want to wear a fur coat in the summer? So, helping your pet to stay cool this summer is vital to protect them against heatstroke, which can be life-threatening.
Compared to us, our pets are less well-adapted to keeping cool and can only sweat via their pads! Instead, they rely on panting to get rid of their excess body heat, which is not always effective. Laying on cool surfaces, going for a swim, seeking shade or having access to a breeze, are other ways that can help our furry friends stay cool.
However, if your pet finds himself or herself in a situation where they don’t have access to any of the above, panting alone may not be effective enough to cool them down. This can result in their body temperature quickly soaring as their body overheats, causing heatstroke.
How do pets get heatstroke?
Sunbathing - During the summertime our sun-worshipping pets will relish the opportunity to sunbathe in the garden, stretching out in the middle of the lawn in the heat of the day or on top of a flat roof. However, if they spend too long in the sun or in the absence of a breeze they could be at risk overheating.
Conservatories - Many of our feline friends will enjoy nothing more than a catnap in the conservatory on a sunny day, but be careful as they can quickly heat up transforming into a greenhouse! So, always check that your sun-lounge or conservatory is pet-free before closing the door or going out for the day.
Cars - leaving your pet in the car even for a short time on a warm day can be extremely dangerous. Just like conservatories, the temperatures inside your car will rapidly escalate and your dog could quickly find themselves in a life-threatening situation.
Dog walks - With the sun shining it can seem like a good idea to take your dog on a nice walk. Be careful, as even your usual walk may be too long on a sunny day. Walking in places that are exposed to the sun, for example, across fields or parks with no shade or access to water can be hazardous and your pet may struggle to keep themselves cool and could quickly overheat.
Dark/thick coat – Pets with thick or dark coats or both are at higher risk of heatstroke, as their coats will soak up the heat like a sponge and hold onto it.
Short-nosed (brachycephalic) breeds – Are even more at risk of heatstroke as they are less well adapted to keeping themselves cool and don’t tolerate any heat well.
How can I keep my pet safe in the sun?
- Avoid walking during the hottest parts of the day and, instead, move your walk to early in the morning and in the evening, when it is cooler.
- Walk in areas where there is access to shade or water, for example, in a wood or forest or by a lake or the sea.
- Avoid walking for too long, even if your dog seems keen!
- Carry a large bottle of water and a portable bowl for your dog; if necessary you can use the water to cool your dog’s body down.
- Keep pets with long and thick coats clipped short during the summer.
- Why not get a doggy paddling pool for your garden? This can be a real treat, particularly if you have a water-loving hound. It’s a great way to cool down.
- Cooling gel mats can be used in your home or for any essential trips in the car too.
- You can also buy cooling jackets to put on your dog before you go on a walk. These are made of a special fabric that you spray with water, which forms a cooling barrier to the heat.
- Some of the newer pet tracker and lifestyle devices come with a temperature monitoring facility. These can be set to let you know if your pet’s body temperature exceeds the recommended level.
- If you are planning on taking your pet to the beach this summer, make sure you pack a parasol (especially if your dog is not a water lover) to provide some shade away from the sun.
If you are concerned that your pet has developed heatstroke, take them to your vets immediately. In the interim, you can help cool your pet down by laying cool (avoid cold water as this can shock their body) wet towels over your pet’s body, belly and pads and by getting them into the shade or inside as soon as you can.
©Merial Ltd 2017. All rights reserved. Merial is now part of Boehringer Ingelheim.