We’re well into summer now, so it’s the perfect time to talk about how to make sure our companion animals stay happy and healthy in the heat. They are just as susceptible as we are to heat and can suffer serious issues or even die if we neglect their needs. Luckily though, there are a few simple things to make sure everyone stays out of the vets this summer.
- Avoid walking and playing with dogs at the hottest time of day. Let them relax in the shade and save more strenuous activities for the mornings and evenings when it is cooler outside.
- Watch out for hot ground as it can burn sensitive paws. As a general rule, if it’s too hot for your bare feet to walk on, it is too hot for paws. If you are out and about, protect their paws with boots or wait until the temperature cools.
- Never leave dogs in hot cars. Temperatures rise quickly, and they may die if left. If you know you are going somewhere your companion can’t follow, leave them at home where they will be safe, even if you think it’s just going to be a quick trip.
- Provide plenty of shade and water for dogs to rehydrate and choose to get out of the heat if they like.
- Keep the human treats out of reach. If you’re having a BBQ or summer feast, be aware that not all human food is safe for dogs. Cooked bones and corn on the cob are a choking hazard, and chocolate, grapes and foods in the onion family are poisonous. If you want to treat your dog, frozen kongs and ice cubes are good alternatives that provide stimulation too.
- Provide plenty of shady areas for cats to escape the sun. That goes for indoor cats, too, as they are just as susceptible to the sun and heat as outdoor cats. It is especially important to make sure you don’t lock them in warm rooms that may overheat, such as conservatories.
- Be aware of open windows. Cats are curious and like to explore and may jump out if given a chance. If there is a possibility they may hurt themselves, put netting or other safety precautions up to keep them in.
- Groom long-haired cats regularly to remove excess hair and help to keep them cooler in the hot weather.
- Save playtime for mornings and evenings when the temperature is cooler and keep activity to a minimum during the hottest part of the day.
- Light and short-fur cats especially can suffer sunburn, so it’s important to keep an eye out for signs and take precautions. Sunscreen may be an option but before use, be aware that human and many pet sunscreens are not safe for cats. Always check with a vet before use.
Rabbits, guinea pigs and small animals
- Always keep hutches and cages in the shade out of direct sunlight, moving them indoors or to a cooler place if necessary.
- Keep water bottles or bowls full of water so they can stay hydrated in the heat.
- Avoid keeping animals in conservatories and greenhouses as they can get hot quickly and cause animals to overheat.
- If letting animals out in the garden in runs or enclosures, provide places to hide, plenty of shade, and keep an eye on them during the day to make sure they are ok.