It’s heating up for our pets ………..

……. and people are still not getting the message.

The weather is (finally) warming up! This a fab time of year, you and your pets can get out into the big outdoors and enjoy your walks again, a great way to keep them (and us!) in shape. With all the fun and excitement some people are still not following basic heat management advice. Only this week I have seen a dog left in a car in the sun, and a full coated German Shepard walked on a roasting day.

Some interesting hot pet facts:

Dogs and cats can only sweat through their paws.

Cats are better at regulating body heat using their ears.

Dogs with pushed-in faces can’t pant as effectively, so are at much greater risk of heat stroke.

White cats and dogs can get sunburn.

Dogs and cats can get burns on their paws from hot tarmac. If it is too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for them.

Dogs and cats both slurp water the same way. They both bend the tip of their tongue and raise liquid in a column up to their mouths.

A dog won’t know to slow down, it is up to the owner to make sure they don’t overdo it.

We can strip down to shorts and t-shirt and let our skin sweat away the heat, but a dog is wearing his coat all the time. As dogs and cats can only sweat through their paws, they have limited ability to cool down. Shaggy dogs really benefit from a shave off at this time of year, even breeds you wouldn’t think to clip like collies or Labradors.

Other dogs are those with pushed in faces or brachycephalic dogs like bulldogs or boxers. The snorting snuffling noises these dogs make normally are actually signs they have a narrower airway than dogs of equivalent size. As dogs pant to cool down, these dogs are the first to have difficulties in the heat. Don’t walk your dog in the heat of the day (11am – 4pm) and always take water for them if it’s going to be a long walk.

Cats are usually better at coping in the heat but it’s not unknown for them to get into some trouble if they get shut in somewhere. They are better at cooling themselves than dogs by diverting blood to their skin and their large thin ears are very good at releasing heat. They will also regulate their activity and avoid exercising in very hot temperatures. Dogs don’t always have this choice! The main problem we see with cats is in those with white ears. White-eared cats are at risk of skin cancer, just like us, if they are allowed to burn. The advice for them is the same, sun lotion! An all day high factor fast drying waterproof one to be exact! Apply to the ears in the morning before going out and this should help stop the burn.

As everyone should be aware pets should never be left in cars on hot or even warm days. This advice gets trotted out every year but every year it gets ignored, often with deadly consequences. It can be tempting while taking your dog out to just nip into the shop or leave him for just a couple of minutes for something. ‘Not long’ is too long. Don’t do it. It just isn’t worth it. Simple.

If you find a dog whose owner has not followed these instructions this is what you should do.

Is the dog panting heavily or in distress? If yes then call 999 and follow their instruction. Don’t act without them on the line. If you do chose to smash the window then be prepared to defend your action in court. If the dog isn’t in distress then you could be liable for criminal damage.

If the dog is not in distress then endeavour to find the owner. If at the supermarket, report it to staff and monitor the dog until the owner returns.

The signs of heat stroke include heavy and excessive panting, drooling, vomiting, wobbliness, collapse. A pet should be moved into the shade, wetted down with tepid (not too cold) water and offer regular small amounts of water. If the water is very cold it can shock the animal more. Contact a veterinary clinic immediately.

In summary, dealing with the heat:

Ditch the coat if you can.

Consider if you have a high risk breed, adjust plan accordingly.

Touch the ground before going out, hold your hand down for 3 seconds, if its too hot it’s too hot!

Do not walk your dog in the full heat of the day.

Slap on sun cream; don’t let your cat see you coming!

Absolutely never leave a dog (or cat) in the car.

Know what heat stroke looks like and what to do.

Of course if you are worried your pet is in trouble then your vet should be your first port of call. We hope this information is helpful to you and that it helps you keep your pets happy and healthy in the warm weather.

Alice England RVN.

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