Keeping Your Pet Cool This Summer

With Summer only a week away (we know… this year is truly flying by), and a heatwave forecast, we thought it would be helpful to cover our best tips for keeping your pet cool this summer and how to avoid heat stroke.



Dogs


Whilst Summertime offers a fun time for all of the family, it’s important to keep a watchful eye on your furry friends when out and about. Dogs have a higher body temperature than us humans, and can’t dissipate heat as well as we can, so are often at risk of overheating.


So how can you prevent heatstroke?


  • Get a paddling pool

What better way to refresh than to take a dip in the water? Paddling pools are a great way for dogs to cool down quickly. Simply put your paddling pool in a shady spot in the garden with cool water. Avoid using freezing water, as this could cause shock, particularly on a very hot day.


If your dog isn’t much of a water lover, try filling the pool only slightly and placing toys and treats inside. Even if your dog doesn’t completely submerge themselves, this will still help them cool down as dogs release heat through their paws.


  • Spritz your dog with water mists and garden sprinklers

Haven’t got a paddling pool? No problem, fill a spray bottle with cool water and mist your dog regularly. Remember to check the temperature of the water before spraying it on your pet- particularly if the bottle or hose pipe has been left in the sun.


  • Invest in cooling mats, collars, and toys

There is a large range of toys, mats, collars and more that have been specially designed to cool down dogs. Some of these have self-cooling technology and when activated with water, draw out heat from the dog’s body, whilst others need to be left in the freezer to cool. Either way, all designs are helpful in providing longer-lasting coolness to your dog.


  • Place wet, cool towels over your dog

Drenching a towel in cold water and placing it over your dog can help lower body temperature quickly. However, it’s important to monitor the temperature of the towel, as once this heats it, it can make your furry friend even hotter!


  • Offer frozen treats

Filling up and freezing a Kong (or similar stuffable dog toys) with your dog’s favourite treats can offer mental stimulation and cool them at the same time! Similarly, placing treats in ice cubes, or blocks of ice offers fun enrichment for your pet whilst cooling them down. Freezing treats such as carrots or apple slices can also be a tasty, refreshing treat for your dog.


  • Avoid exercising them in the middle of the day

Be sure to exercise your dog during the cooler hours of the day (either first thing in the morning or evening). When possible opt for walking routes with open water or a dog-friendly swimming spot on the way. Walking dogs in the midday sun can be very dangerous. Not only could your dog get heat stroke, but they may also burn their paws on the hot pavement. Remember - if the pavement is too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog's paw pads. On days when it’s particularly hot, opt-out of walking them and find other outlets to stimulate them, such as learning tricks or playing brain games.


  • Keep them hydrated

Whilst this is quite a simple one, it’s also one of the most important! Always ensure your dog has access to fresh, cool water (both in and out of the house). Keep the bowl in a shaded area, and place ice cubes in for extra coolness.



Cats


Although your cat might be an avid sunbather, too much heat can be lethal for them. Just like dogs, cats also struggle to regulate their body temperature. Let's look at ways to keep them cool…


  • Create shade

Create shade both indoors and outdoors to protect your cat. Closing curtains and blinds can be useful to block out any extra heat indoors, whereas trees, shrubs, or garden umbrellas can provide shade to garden-loving cats.


  • Provide fresh water

Again this may seem simple, but it’s pivotal over the warm summer months. Always make sure your cat has access to plenty of clean, fresh and cool water to avoid dehydration. We suggest putting water bowls both inside and outside the house. Pet water fountains can also be helpful for cats that enjoy drinking running water.


  • Encourage them to stay home

Similarly to dogs, cats should avoid exercising during the hottest part of the day. On days where it’s forecast to be hot, encourage them to head out during dawn and dusk. Playing with them and offering them a later breakfast can help encourage them to stay in.


  • Grooming

Although a cat's fur is a great barrier to the sun, it is also hot! A good grooming routine is important to carry out all year round, however, it’s especially important during the summer months. Brushing your cat daily can help remove excess fur and its undercoat.


  • Avoid sunburn

Just like us, our furry friends can get sunburnt from exposure to the sun. When it’s a particularly warm day, remember to apply pet-safe sunscreen to your cat in areas exposed to the sun (such as the ears). This is especially important for hairless cats, such as Sphynx cats and lighter-coloured cats.


  • Offer ice treats

Similar to dogs, cats can also benefit and be cooled down with ice cubes, frozen treats, and even frozen toys!



Rabbits and Guinea Pigs


The ideal temperature for rabbits is between 10-21°C, however, they can live comfortably in temperatures up to 24°C depending on the humidity. Overheating in rabbits often happens in temperatures above 26°C. This is much the same for guinea pigs, who again shouldn’t be exposed to temperatures above 26°C. So how can you keep them cool?


  • Move your rabbit and/or guinea pig hutch

Throughout the warmer months, it’s important to move your pet’s hutch out of direct sunlight. If you have the space, it can also be handy to move them inside to avoid overheating. If you do put the hutch inside, make sure they are in a cool room with ventilation.


  • Avoid pools and offer ice packs

Rabbit and guinea pigs aren't good swimmers and don’t enjoy being in the water! Avoid using any kind of pool to cool them down. Instead, fill plastic bottles with water and freeze them to create areas where your pet can cool down.


  • Use cooling mats or wet towels

Consider buying a self-cooling mat that can be placed on the floor of the hutch for your pet to retreat to if it overheats. Similarly, putting a cold, wet towel over the hutch can create shade. Be careful not to completely cover the hutch as this will block airflow, and make sure to ring out the towel before placing it over the hutch - to avoid dampening your pet.


  • Give frozen treats

Just like dogs and cats, rabbits and guinea pigs can also benefit from frozen treats. Consider freezing or soaking their food (such as lettuce) in icy water so that they're nice and cold.


Having said this, avoid giving them too much fruit (especially on hotter days) and keep their fibre intake high to avoid diarrhoea. Hydrating vegetables such as cucumber, are also useful for cooling pets. However, similarly to fruit, these must be fed in moderation (to avoid an upset stomach).


  • Grooming

Regular brushing can help get rid of excess fur and keep your rabbit or guinea pig nice and cool.


You can also dampen a rabbit’s ears using a wet cloth or mist spray (if they are happy to let you) to speed up the cooling process as they lose heat through their ears.



To find out more about the dangers of heatstroke and how to spot the signs, check out our blog How To Prevent Heatstroke In Your Pet, here.


Order Dr Hannah Parkin's Amazing Guide To Caring For Your New Puppy.
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