Friday 20 September 2019

How to keep your pets safe and cool as temperatures soar in the summer

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Rachel Farrell

Rachel Farrell

As Ireland gets ready for some hot days ahead it's a good idea to ensure your pets stay cool and safe this summer.

The ISPCA has some handy tips for keeping pets cool and hydrated.

Avoid walking dogs in the afternoon

The ISPCA recommend walking dogs in the early morning and late in the evening, when temperatures are cooler, and the sun is less strong.

"Before walking, test the asphalt or concrete surface you plan to walk your pet on with the back of your hand. Dogs have sensitive paw pads and can burn their feet," they said.

"If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s likely too hot for their feet."

Have fresh water readily available 

Refresh your pet's water more often than usual and ensure there's plenty nearby for them to drink during the day. Make sure you leave extra if you're heading out for the day and adding ice cubes to the water is a good way to keep the water cool.

Make sure they have access to the shade 

If temperatures continue to rise, consider keeping your animals indoors where they can stay shaded from the strong sun.

"If you have a rabbit or other small mammals in the garden, keep their living quarters in the shade. You could also cover the front of their enclosures with newspaper as they can heat up very quickly. 

"All caged animals, even if they are indoors, should be kept out of direct sunlight. Keep an eye on aviaries or birdcages, which are near to a window."

Never leave your animal alone in a parked vehicle

Heatstroke can be fatal for animals and keeping them in the car with the windows open isn't effective in preventing it, according to the ISPCA.

"Even if the temperature outside is 22°C, the inside of a car can reach 47°C. On a day that is 30°C or hotter, the inside of the car can reach fatal temperatures in under ten minutes. 

"Dogs in particular are at risk because they cool themselves by panting. If the air becomes too hot, they are unable to regulate their body temperatures."

Be extra careful with normal household items

If you're enjoying a barbecue in the sun, avoid feeding your dog the leftovers.

"Alcoholic or caffeinated beverages, chocolate, coconut, grapes or raisins, onions, raw meat or excessively salty foods or foods containing the sweetener xylitol can be toxic or cause serious health issues for your pet."

Dog's Trust also advise applying pet-friendly sun cream on to your dog's burned areas, but to avoid human sun cream, which can be toxic for dogs. 

Know the warning signs of overheating

  • Excessive panting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dry or pale gums
  • Weakness, stupor or collapse

And for horses...

My Lovely Horse Rescue said its important to keep horses cool in their stables and urged the public to keep an eye out for overheated stray horses on the sides of roads.

"The key things are the basics - access to shade and access to water. If stables are cooler during the daytime than out in the sun then keeping your pony in during the day and turning them out at nighttime instead is also a good way to keep them cool," they said.

"There are a few rugs you can get that reflect the sun’s rays. Sun block for white areas and pink skin (such as around the nose area, ponies can get sun burnt) as well.

"Avoid riding them at the hottest time of the day (midday to mid-afternoon) and if they’re struggling in the heat don’t do too much on them. Riding early morning or evening time is best.

"We’re asking people to give water to local ponies if they spot any that have no access to water. There are so many that we just can’t get to all of them ourselves. We’ve been recommending people don’t do this in their own but at least in pairs just for safety."

READ MORE: All griller, no filler: Master the art of summer barbecuing with our expert grilling advice

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