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How to Help Your Cats & Dogs Cool Down When the Weather Hots Up

As the temperatures soar and we all make the most of the glorious sunshine, it’s sun cream on and ice lollies or cold beer all round for us humans.  But how can we make sure our pets also stay cool during the heatwave?

Like us, cats and dogs are not used to the hot, dry weather and, while they might usually bagsy the warmest spot in the house for an afternoon snooze, they don’t enjoy soaring temperatures either.

What’s more, hot weather can be dangerous for pets and the hazards are not always obvious, so here’s some valuable advice for what to look out for and what to do if you pets start to show signs of overheating.

It may seem obvious but pavements and the black asphalt on roads absorb the heat when temperatures are high. It’s not too much of a worry for us shoe-wearing humans but it can burn the delicate soles or cat and dog paws very quickly. When the air temperature is 250C the road surface will be 51.60C, which is hot enough to burn the skin in a minute. And in air temperatures of 300C the road temperature rises to 57.20C – to put this heat into context an egg can fry on a surface of 550C within five minutes! With this in mind it’s important to think about the route you’ll take when walking your dog, sticking to shaded areas and grassy surfaces where possible. And, if you’re lucky enough to live near a beach, remember the sand will also be hot underfoot for your dog.

As well as being vulnerable to heat because of their naked feet, our pets are also susceptible to overheating due to their thick coats. It’s important to ensure they can remain hydrated by providing plenty of fresh water. Avoid iced or extra cold water as this could shock your pet’s body; instead offer lukewarm water which will help them hydrate. It’s also a good idea to take some water and a bowl with you for your dog if you go out for a walk or on a car journey. As always, complete nutrition is also vital as it will keep your pets in good health and ensure their organs are robust enough to deal with the physical stress of hot weather.

If your dog does start to overheat, it’s important to know what to do.  You can help cool down the area where they are lying with frozen bottles of water and this is also a good tip for cooling down rabbit hutches or guinea pig pens. Tempting as it may be, you should never throw cold water over a dog or put a cold, wet towel on their back as this can actually exacerbate the symptoms of overheating put your dog’s health at serious risk.  Instead, ensure your dog has a shaded area to lie in and put a cold, wet towel on their abdomen to help them cool down. A paddling pool is also an excellent way to give your dog a way of cooling down safely within your own garden.

Finally, as most pet owners already know, you should never leave a dog in a car during hot weather, even with the windows down, as a stationary car does not benefit from the air movement that occurs when you’re driving.  Even a five minute pit stop could lead to dangerous levels of overheating so either leave your dog at home or take him/her out of the car with you.  And if you do need to leave your dog outside while you pop into a shop etc, ensure you choose a shady spot and leave some water.

Who knows how long the heatwave will last, what’s certain however is that good hot weather routines and overheating response knowledge is a  gift you can give you pet forever so, just to summarise, here are our top tips for keeping your pets cool:

  1. Be mindful of scorching road, pavement and beach surfaces
  2. Provide plenty of water but ensure it’s not iced or too cold
  3. Avoid putting cold water or a cold towel on your dog’s back if they’re overheating
  4. Put a cold wet towel on your dog’s belly to help them cool down
  5. Ensure your pet has plenty of shade
  6. Provide bottles of frozen water to create a cooler environment
  7. Consider filling a paddling pool to help your dog cool off
  8. Never leave your dog in a hot car, even if the windows are down