Summer is finally here! The sunglasses and sunscreen are out and, if you’re like me, 10 bottles of insect repellent too. But what about your pets? Have you made sure they’re as cool and comfy as possible in this heat? Here are some tips to help keep them safe in this lovely but scorching sunshine.
1) Cooling accessories. There are lots of items available to help keep your dogs happy and chilled such as special cooling collars/bandanas/vests/mats as well as paddling pools, freezable dog toys and even frozen dog yoghurt! These things are all great for keeping your dog cool and are great fun too.
2) Five second dog walk rule. If you’re unsure if it’s too hot to walk your dog I always recommend doing the five second pavement test. Simply place your hand on the hottest part of some pavement, and if it’s too hot to hold it there for five seconds, it’s too hot for your dog’s sensitive paws too. Dogs sweat through their pads so the heat will not only cause severe discomfort but can also be life threatening. I always advise walking your dog early morning before 8am or late evening after 8pm when the sun isn’t at its highest and when there’s plenty of shade around. Remember, no dog has ever died from missing one walk but dogs have died from one walk in the heat.
3) Rabbits can sometimes get forgotten about in the heat but they suffer too. Placing a fan near their hutch/run, offering them a cooling slab to lie on and putting ice cubes around their run and in their water bottle will be appreciated. Moving their run to the shadiest spot is advised too but don’t forget to reposition the run throughout the day to take account of the sun’s movement.
4) Provide cats with a variety of locations to shelter if they are allowed outside so that they have plenty of shady spots to rest in. Always keep plenty of fresh water bowls near where they like to sleep and always put factor 50 sunscreen on cats with very light-coloured ears. House cats appreciate a fan in their favourite room, although not pointed directly at them, and ice cubes in their water bowls - they’re usually fascinated by the weird floating things in their water so it keeps them occupied too!
5) Get creative! Making frozen toys for your pets is lots of fun and it’s an activity you can get the kids involved in too. Soaking your dog’s favourite toys in water or gravy (rope toys work well) and freezing them always goes down well. Making ice cubes by adding a few small dog/cat/rabbit treats in with the water and then freezing them are all perfect ways to keep your pets occupied and cool at the same time. Lots of people have pet chickens these days, like us, and making sweetcorn ice cubes go down a treat! You can really get creative and make all sorts of frozen treats and toys for your pets so get the kids involved and have some fun!
6) To shave or not to shave? It’s very tempting to shave the fur off double coated long haired dogs and cats but their fur is actually specially designed to help keep them cool in summer as well as keep them warm in winter (think of an insulated drink flask). Shaving their coat can cause more harm than good as the top coat protects your dog’s and cat’s skin from harmful rays and insect bites. So, as tempting as it is, keep them natural but follow the tips above.
7) Lastly, never ever leave your dog in the car. Even with the windows down, a stationary car will heat up very quickly and will feel like an oven inside. Leaving your dog in a parked car on a hot day with the windows down can lead to death in less than 30 minutes so never risk it. Either stay in the car with your dog with the engine and air con on or leave your dog at home in the comfort of his own shaded home!
These are just a few tips for you to try to help keep your pets cool but the list really is endless! Use your imagination (and common sense) and you’ll have happy, chilled out furry family members who can enjoy the sunshine safely.