So far, it’s been a surprisingly hot summer in Britain. While most of us humans enjoy the opportunity to lap up a little sun, we need to be thinking about our furry friends and how they are coping with the rise in temperatures. Our pets often struggle with the heat as they don’t have the same coping mechanisms as us. Firstly, they don’t really sweat. They only have a small number of sweat glands, mainly in their paws. They need to lose heat by panting or seeking out shade or cool environments and by minimal exertion. Cats can cool down by grooming themselves as their saliva acts as a cooling agent to increase heat loss from the skin by evaporation. Elderly or sick animals, whose bodies are already compromised, often become unwell with the hot weather as they are unable to cope with the extra physiological stress. Brachycephalic dogs and cats (eg Bulldogs, Pugs and Persian cats) are particularly vulnerable as they have a reduced ability to cool themselves down with their facial conformation and often restricted upper airways. Here are our top tips for taking care of your furry family members during these hot months.
1. Minimise exercise or travel during the warmest parts of the day. It is best to limit your pets exercise to the early mornings and late evenings when the sun is either coming up or going down. If you have a very active dog or one who loves to play fetch, be aware you are not letting them over do it.
2. Always have fresh water available. Cats should always have multiple water stations at home with at least one away from their food bowls. Cat fountains that keep the water moving can be good for fussy cats who don't like to drink. Collapsible or travel water bowls are a good investment for those of us with dogs as they can be taken on walks and car journeys. Ice cubes are a fun way of increasing water intake at home or when you are out and about.
3. Wet towels or flannels and water mist sprays can be helpful to dampen your pets fur and paws to increase heat loss (rememberer this is where they lose most heat from, apart from their mouths). Cooling mats are also a great idea for indoor and outdoor use.
4. Never ever leave your pets inside a car or room where there isn't enough ventilation. Dogs especially need to pant to lose heat, so fresh (ideally cool) air, is important for temperature control.
Why not try making some cooling treats for your cats and dogs? We have some great recipes here.