Summertime is a happy time of the year for most of us. BBQs, spending time outdoors in the sunshine, it makes us all feel happier. But what about our pets?
Cats, dogs and horses wear their fur coats all year round and can’t take them off to cool down. So, it is up to us to make sure they are comfortable in the summer heat.
Water, water, water, the most important thing in life. Leave a few bowls around the garden and check them regularly, even a shallow saucer for the smaller animals. All animals and insects need to drink and birds need to bathe to keep their feathers in good condition. Keep the bowls in sheltered areas to prevent evaporation.
Walk your dog in the early morning or evening when the heat of the day has gone, and remember to carry water for both you and the dog.
We wear shoes, dogs don’t and the hot tarmac can badly burn their paws. Exercising in the heat with a fur coat on can quickly cause sunstroke and dehydration, which, even in young fit dogs, can be dangerous.
Older dogs or dogs with medical conditions can be in danger of collapse or worse. Keep the dogs indoors in the cool and make sure they have plenty of water or a frozen food toy. You can stuff food into some of the puzzle toys and then pour in a little water, place in the freezer overnight and when frozen your dog can spend time getting the cool food out, a bit like us having an ice pop. Another tip is to let your dog play with ice cubes, you can make them with vegetable water or perhaps a little chicken stock to flavour them.
Dogs don’t sweat like we do and cool themselves by panting. If you suspect your dog has sunstroke – signs are sluggish and confused, panting really hard and a very red tongue, give him tap water a little at a time, soak a towel in cold water and put it over the dog’s back. Keep it wet by pouring cold water over the towel and go to your vet asap, as heat stroke can cause organ failure and risk of dying.
It goes without saying that you should NEVER leave your dog in a car. Even if you park in the shade, chances are the sun will move around and your dog may not be in the shade when you come back. Opening the windows a tiny bit doesn’t do much to cool the car down and temperatures can quickly rise.
If it’s 21C outside, in 10 mins it would reach 31C inside the car, enough to cause collapse, and in 30mins 40C, your dog could be dead in 10 to 15 mins. If you must take your dog with you, then ask someone to come along, that way they can stay with the dog while you are away from the car. On hot days, it is probably best to leave them at home.
Most cats love to lie in the sun but if your cat is white and has white ears the sun can cause melanoma, just like skin cancer, on the ears and surgery may be needed to cut away the tumours. Use total sun block on the ears to prevent the sun damage, and perhaps keep the cat in during the height of the day.
Horses need a lot of water, so if you see horses check they have water. Horses are tortured by flies in the heat, so use fly repellent to give them a bit of comfort.
Wildlife needs water and cool shade, so leave a corner of the garden wild and use a shallow dish of water to help thirsty visitors. For details on how you can gain a certificate in first aid for animals, visit www.petproblemsanimalfirstaid.weebly.com