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Heatwave: How to protect your pets from heatstroke


By Grace McGettigan
12th Aug 2022
Heatwave: How to protect your pets from heatstroke

During hot weather, animals can overheat, become dehydrated and suffer heatstroke very quickly. Here we share top tips from both the ISPCA and DSPCA to keep your beloved pets safe 

Summer has returned in Ireland, and while you lather on the SPF, it’s important to look out for your pet’s safety too.

Animals (be it a dog, cat, bird or rabbit) can overheat and become dehydrated very quickly. Not only is this extremely uncomfortable for them, but it can also lead to health problems; even death. Here are some top tips to keep your beloved animal safe this summer.

Heatstroke can be fatal

Just like humans, dogs can suffer from heatstroke. While you may be tempted to bring your four-legged friend to the park or beach, during a heatwave, it’s safer to leave them at home. Even a short walk on a very hot day can be too much. If you really need to bring your dog out, do so in the early morning or late evening, when temperatures are lower.

At home, “Place his or her bed/kennel in a shaded area and he will automatically go to that shaded area when he needs rest from the hot sun,” says the DSPCA. “Leave them plenty of water and leave the water in the shaded area. Check their water bowl regularly to make sure there is plenty of fresh water,” they add.

As heatstroke in dogs can be fatal, be aware of (and watch out for) the warning signs. If your dog starts to pant quickly, has pale gums, looks very tired or collapses, he or she could be suffering from heatstroke.

“Put them in a cool, shady spot; spray their body with cool water or give them a cool bath immediately. Never cool your dog so much that he or she begins to shiver.

“Let your dog drink small amounts of cool water and contact a veterinary surgeon urgently for further advice”.

Travelling in the car

Never leave your pet in the car. “Even with the windows open, pets can die in hot cars,” says the ISPCA.

Even at much lower temperatures, the humidity inside the car turns it into a sauna. Research has shown that if it’s a sunny 25 degrees, the temperature in a car (even with the windows open), can rise to more than 50 degrees in just 30 minutes.

Grooming

The DSPCA also advises you to keep your dog or cat’s hair groomed. “This is always a good idea, but particularly important during the hot weather.

“If your pet has long hair, it’s just like you wearing a fur coat in 90 degrees of heat. It’s not comfortable!” they say. “Regular brushing also helps remove the winter undercoat and can help your pet better regulate his or her body temperature”.

Similarly, keep an eye out for insects. Make sure your dog or cat gets their regular flea and tick preventative, and keep a first-aid kit close by in case of bee or wasp stings.

Sunburn

While it’s important to keep your dog and cat’s hair short during hot weather, be mindful it leaves them susceptible to sunburn.

The DSPCA says sunscreen should be applied to dogs and cats with white-tipped ears and noses; “Tip: children’s sunscreen, Factor 50+ is particularly good,” they say.

Rabbits, birds and other small pets

“Do not leave rabbit hutches in the full glare of the sun; move them to a shaded area now,” says the DSPCA. “The same applies to guinea pigs and ferrets”.

What’s more, do not leave bird cages or fish tanks on windowsills; move them into the shade. “Cages or aviaries located on sunny patios or in courtyards can become like furnaces, as a result of radiated heat from the floor and wall surfaces”.

Remember, if you’re too hot, your pet is too.

When in doubt, contact your local veterinary surgeon for advice.