Helping keep pets cool in the heat

Schools are breaking up, weather forecasters are predicting a heatwave and many of us are looking forward to heading off on our summer holidays.

As temperatures soar it’s important to keep our pets cool and some of our RSPCA centres have ingenious ideas you can try at home.

I grew up on a dairy farm in the Midlands so I always had a menagerie of animals around me from my dog Prince, a springer spaniel, as well as donkeys, ponies, rabbits and guinea pigs.

Cat enjoying a frozen food treat to keep cool in summer © RSPCAThroughout my childhood I loved growing up with lots of animals and have very happy memories of my pets. However, being in a senior position at the RSPCA, which is both demanding and very rewarding, means that I dedicate a lot of my time to this and so I don’t have any pets at home at the moment.

However, it is this passion and respect for animals which drives me in my role at the RSPCA.

I remember the summer of ‘76 when I would play with Prince with the garden hose to keep him cool. We’d also clip the ponies so they didn’t get too hot and wouldn’t ride them in the heat of the day.

I wouldn’t have thought of giving them slices of frozen watermelon like they do with the donkeys at RSPCA Lockwood or the pigs at RSPCA Southridge.

At RSPCA Newbrook Farm in Birmingham caring staff have also been making cat food ice cubes to keep the cats cool.

And at our centres across England and Wales staff have been filling up paddling pools so the dogs can have fun while keeping cool.

Keeping your pets cool during the hot weather

Any animal with white fur is extra sensitive to the sun and so applying sun cream to white cats or dogs, and even pigs or horses, is a great idea to protect them from sunburn.

Horse licking some frozen food ice to keep cool © RSPCAFreezing a dog’s water bowl or kong before putting water or treats in keeps them cool for longer. Putting ice cubes into your dog or cat’s water bowl or making some tasty ice cube treats is another fantastic idea.

Damp towels for your pet to lie on or an ice pack wrapped in a towel could provide a welcome relief from the heat.

Pets may struggle to realise when they are too hot so make sure they have constant access to shade and don’t over exercise them in the heat. Remember if the pavement is too hot for your hand then it will be too hot for their paws.

There is very serious side to keeping pets cool over summer as animals can suffer from heatstroke which could be fatal, especially if left in a hot car, conservatory or caravan.

Remember Dogs Die In Hot Cars

Vizsla panting in carThe main aim of the Dogs Die In Hot Cars campaign is to raise awareness among dog owners of the dangers of leaving their pets in parked cars on warm days – and also to advise the public to call the police if they see a dog in distress.

However, in the same week that we launched the campaign, the RSPCA’s emergency hotline received more than 700 calls about animals in hot environments and the majority of these were dogs shut in vehicles.

In an emergency our advice is to always call 999, as the police may be able to get to the scene quicker and they have power of entry into the vehicle.

Dogs can suffer fatally if they are left in a hot car as temperatures rise very quickly within a vehicle – even when it isn’t a particularly hot day.

This issue is deeply saddening and we hope that by raising awareness it will mean no more dogs will suffer in hot cars.

Enjoy the summer

I hope to enjoy one or two days of sunshine this summer and I hope that these tips will help you and your pets enjoy the sun too.

- Michael Ward, RSPCA interim chief executive

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