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Keeping Your Pet Cool This Summer

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As we bask in some most un-English lovely weather, spare a thought for our pets. They can’t shed their furry coats, which means that the summer months are often very unpleasant for them.

When it comes to pets and summer, it’s important to understand the challenges and dangers of hot weather and know when it might be necessary to make changes to pet care.

One of the key dangers of hot weather is heatstroke. 


What are the signs of heatstroke?

There are varying signs of heatstroke. Generally, you should look out for:

  • Excessive panting
  • Very red gums
  • Salivation
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Convulsions
  • Collapse

Some dog breeds, especially Brachycephalic (short nosed) breeds such as Pugs or Boxers, are particularly susceptible to breathing problems and heatstroke.

Older and younger animals, as well as those who might be carrying extra weight, are also more likely to be affected by hot weather.

We normally associate heatstroke with dogs, who tend to just keeping running until they drop, but please be aware that cats and small furries can suffer from heatstroke too. Persian cats may be more susceptible than other breeds.


Dealing with heatstroke:

If your pet is affected, it’s very important that you seek urgent veterinary attention for them – head to your nearest vet as time is very much of the essence.

You should get your pet into shade/close to a fan and offer them ice cubes to lick or water to drink (but don’t force anything down them).

Use towels, etc. soaked with tepid/cool water on your dog but not icy water as this can send them into shock.

It’s important that your pet sees a vet even if you believe them to have been only mildly affected by the heat as heatstroke can affect the brain and internal organs.

Dogs and hot cars:

“But I was only a few minutes…”

Year after year, dogs continue to die when left in cars. The temperature in a car can rise incredibly quickly and leaving a window open will make very little difference. It can take as little as 15 minutes for a dog to die in a car…and it doesn’t even have to be that hot to be potentially fatal.

It’s not just cars, either. Make sure that animals are not shut outside with no shade or left in caravans or conservatories as these can have the same effect as being in a car.


What should I do if I see a dog shut in a car on a hot day?

Please call the Police or the RSPCA 24 hour cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.

Avoiding heatstroke and other summer tips:

Try and keep long-haired breeds clipped in the warmer months.

Carry water and a bowl around with you.

Avoid the hottest parts of the day when walking your pet (and remember that pavements can feel incredibly hot on paws!).

Allow pets freedom to move where possible so they can remove themselves from unpleasantly hot rooms.

Our pets can get sunburned, especially if they have light coloured fur – ask your vet for advice on purchasing a pet-safe sun cream.

Flystrike is a particular problem in summer. Make sure you check your pet over and keep their bottom clean to avoid this potentially lethal condition.

If you take your pet on holiday with you, make sure you know where your nearest vets is in case of an emergency.


Summer emergency? Want advice regarding travelling with your pet? Please call your local Medivet or find your local practice by using our online practice finder

Posted July 1, 2014 in Seasonal Care

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