How to keep your pet safe and healthy during a heatwave

Learning how to cope in the heat can be a struggle, with the beaming rays of the sun, the inescapable humidity and the ever-rising temperatures tough to handle for many.

With the Met Office forecasting high temperatures across the UK this week , with many parts of the country seeing temperatures above average, just imagine how your pet may be feeling.

Domestic animals don’t have the luxury of being able to say when they’re feeling overheated or dehydrated, which is why you need to learn how to keep your pet as safe and healthy as possible during these extreme weather conditions.

Is something wet? Unlike humans who sweat everywhere, dogs only sweat through the pads of their feet.

Whether you’re a dog person or own a reptile, this is how to look after your pet properly as the heatwave runs its course.

Dogs

Recommended

  • Rwanda: Boris Johnson says scheme will offer migrants ‘safe legal routes’ to UK
  • How to sleep during a heatwave, according to experts
  • New NHS breast cancer pill can cut recurrence of disease
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Dogs with long fur will likely fare worse than their shorter-haired peers during the summer.

However, they are able to cool themselves down by panting and releasing heat through their paws, as animal charity Blue Cross explains.

Dogs do this because they’re unable to sweat through their skin in the same way as humans do.

If a dog does overheat, they could be at risk of suffering from a serious heatstroke, with the charity explaining that “signs of heatstroke in dogs include collapse, excessive panting and dribbling”.

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: One of the fringe benefits of taking on the responsibility of pet ownership is that animals can be an instant icebreaker, whether they’re with you or you’re just using them as a topic of conversation.

“If you suspect your pet is suffering from the condition, move them to a cool place, preferably with a draught, wet their coat with cool - not freezing - water, and contact your vet immediately,” the charity advises.

Furthermore, leaving a dog in a car on a hot day can have devastating consequences, as the temperature within the car can soar to extreme levels at a rapid rate, which is why it’s advised never to leave a dog in a car in hot conditions.

To ensure that dogs are comfortable during walks on days with excessive heat, the RSPCA recommends only walking your dog in the morning or evening at the peak of summer, as doing so will help prevent them from burning their paws on the pavement or suffering from heatstroke.

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Having a dog in the house means more bacteria enters the home and gets inside the occupants (one study found “dog-related biodiversity” is especially high on pillowcases.) In turn, people with dogs seem to get ill less frequently and less severely than people with no pets.

You must also make sure that your dog always has access to water.

Cats

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Different types of cats may be more prone to sunburn than others, as pet agency Very Important Pets outlines.

“Pale-coloured cats are vulnerable to sunburn; particularly on their ears, noses and sparsely haired areas,” the agency states, adding that, “like in humans, sunburn can sometimes lead to skin cancer.”

While many cat owners may let their feline friends roam at will, the agency recommends keeping your cat indoors during the hottest time of the day, from around 11am until 3pm.

Growing up. While the Chow Chow dogs are well known for their distinctive blue-black tongues, they’re actually born with pink tongues. They turn blue-black at 8-10 weeks of age.

You can even invest in a suncream designed specifically for pets to provide them with adequate protection from the sun’s rays.

Having your cat’s fur trimmed could also be a good course of action in order to make them feel more comfortable in the heat.

Furthermore, if you think that your cat may be feeling overheated, you can use a damp towel to cool them down.

Just like with any other animal, cats shouldn’t be left in cars during a heatwave.

Hamsters

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

If you normally keep your hamster in a glass or plastic crate, you should be aware that the interior may be hotter than the average room temperature.

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Do you have a dog that experiences separation anxiety? Try leaving some clothing with him that you’ve worn. It’s been proven that the scent you leave behind on your clothes can help ease your dog’s separation anxiety.

This is important to keep in mind when considering where their crate is placed, as putting it on a window sill where it’s exposed to the sun could put your hamster at risk of overheating.

Hamster blog site Hammysworld also suggests placing the crate on a stone or tiled floor during the day if possible in order to help the animals remain cool and comfortable.

You could even place a ceramic tile within the cage as a means of lowering the temperature of the interior even more.

Another trick that the outlet recommends is to place a frozen bottle of water on the side of the outside of the crate while also regularly refreshing your pet’s water supply.

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Your dog is as smart as a two-year old! Ever wonder why children around this age seem to have a special bond with the family dog? It could be because they speak the same language, roughly 250 words and gestures in fact.

Fish

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

You may think that your fish is safe in their tank of water as those outside battle the intense heat and humidity.

However, the temperature of the tank can easily rise if the room temperature is higher than normal.

If you have heaters in your fish tank, it would be wise to turn them off, Tropical Fish Site recommends, while it may also be worth reducing the normal temperature of the tank if possible.

Another method that you can employ to help keep the water cool is to put bags filled with ice at the bottom of the tank.

Birds

(Getty Images)

While birds living in exotic locations around the world may be used to hotter climates, chances are that domesticated birds won’t have the same thresholds for higher temperatures.

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: There are approximately 600 million dogs in the world. It is estimated that nearly 400M of those dogs are strays.

According to Bird Supplies, birds may be very susceptible to sudden changes in their environment, which is why knowing how to keep them cool during a heatwave is important.

“Your average bird has a standard core temperature of around 105F or 40C, and are very susceptible to overheating,” the site states.

Some signs to look out for that may indicate that your bird is overheating include if its panting, holding its wings far away from its body or exhibiting anxious behaviour.

Many birds naturally enjoy spending time outdoors. However, if this is the case, you should make sure that the outdoor space that your bird frequents is equipped with shaded areas.

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Nearly 80 million U.S. households have a pet, and 42 percent of those households have more than one, according to a 2015-2016 survey by the APPA. There are 77.8 million pet dogs in the U.S. and 85.8 million pet cats.

On top of that, the site states that you should make sure to replace the bathing dish of water at the bottom of your bird’s cage at least once a day, while also ensuring that it has a decent supply of clean water to drink.

Reptiles and amphibians

(Getty Images)

Reptiles and amphibians are ectothermic or cold-blooded, which means that their body temperature relies on external sources, as detailed by Encyclopaedia Britannica.

With that in mind, if the temperature of your home is higher than normal, then your pet snake or lizard could suffer in the hot conditions.

Pet store Just For Pets advises first checking whether the temperature of your home falls within your animal’s ideal range.

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Stories abound of owners whose dogs kept sniffing or licking a mole or lump on their body so they got it checked out, discovering it was cancerous. The anecdotal evidence was later backed up by scientific studies. Dogs are so good at this that some of them are trained to detect cancer, in as little as three hours.

If the temperature exceeds its ideal range, then you can cool them down by providing them with clean water and keeping a small fan close by.

Recommended

  • How to sleep during a heatwave, according to experts
  • New NHS breast cancer pill can cut recurrence of disease
  • Expensive sunscreens fail to offer sun protection, Which? report finds

Furthermore, you could utilise a similar technique to the one advised for hamster owners by placing a ceramic tile in its enclosure that it can use to lower its body temperature (that you could cool first in the fridge).

Plus, if you place an iced bottle of water nearby, it could help reduce the temperature of the air, thus providing your pet with a more bearable environment.

Don’t cheap out on training time. Make training fun and frequent. Keep training light and fun. Don’t get demanding with your dog. Instead, go with the flow. See what develops. Trust that if you do this long enough, you’re going to figure out what works and what doesn’t.