Ways to Keep Pets Cool During Summer
It’s finally starting to feel like summer in the UK, with temperatures soaring across the country. For many of us this is a reason to celebrate but, for our furry or feathered pets, heat can pose a serious health risk.
Hot weather can not only be uncomfortable, for certain pets it can be harmful and potentially dangerous. So, help your animals beat the heat with our top tips for regulating their temperature in hot weather.
How can I keep my pet safe in the heat?
Pets respond differently than we do, and extreme temperatures can cause heatstroke.
If you think your animals might be suffering, common signs to look for are:
- Heavy panting
- Glazed eyes
- Rapid heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing
- Extrema thirst and salivation
- Lack of coordination
A deep red or purple tongue, seizures and even unconsciousness can also be signs of heatstroke. If your pet displays any of these, move them into the shade or an air-conditioned area.
Apply ice packs or cold towels to their head, neck and chest. Let them drink some cool water or lick ice cubes.
Take them to a vet immediately if they don’t show signs of improvement.
"It's important to remember that it's not just the ambient temperature, but also the humidity that can affect your pet," says Dr Barry Kellogg, VMD, of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association.
How to keep your dog cool on walks
Dogs don't sweat like humans do; they cool themselves off by panting. This means that they can overheat more easily than their owners, so here are some steps you can take to ensure your dog stays cool during the summer months.
A simple way to test if the ground if too hot for you dog to walk on is to touch the ground with your hand and hold it there for 5 seconds. If it's painful or uncomfortable for you, it's too hot for your dog's paws.
The RSPCA says that owners should be particularly careful in places where there is little to no shade, such as beaches and fields, adding: "If in doubt, don't go out." During hot periods, walk your dog in the early morning or evening, once the temperature has cooled.
Never leave your dog in a hot car, even for just a few minutes.
Fur length can be a big factor in how comfortable your dog is in summer. Some dogs like the Shih Tzu - a brachycephalic breed – can suffer in the heat without a trip to the groomers.
Encourage your dog to drink cool, clean water throughout the day. You can also offer them ice cubes or frozen fruit as a treat.
These are especially handy now, and we’ve got some tasty and refreshing recipes here:
- Mint & Strawberry Dog Treats
- Pumpkin & Kefir Puppuccino
- Nourishing Bone Broth Treats
- Coconut and Mint Dog Bowl Toppers
Many owners swear by these devices, these help to cool a hot pup down and provide a place for them to chill out and sleep. Or you can DIY it, with a wet towel or matt left in the freezer, as a temporary solution.
Paddling pool or hose
Get your canine companion a paddling pool (we recommend a rigid bottomed one for durability) and put it in a shady spot in your garden. You can also cool them off after a walk with a garden hose or sprinkler.
What temperature is too hot to walk a dog in the UK?
Anything higher than 20C can cause your dog to become dehydrated and very hot very quickly. The hotter the temperature, the higher the risk to your dog.
How to keep indoor cats cool in summer
Our feline friends can also be susceptible to overheating in summer, even if they are indoors. Whilst your kitty may seek out a patch of sunshine for a nap, when the temperatures start to rise, they might prefer a shaded, well-ventilated spot instead.
Here are some additional ways to keep your cat cool:
- Stroke them with a cold, damp washcloth
- Give them options for fresh water by leaving bowls around the house
- Close the curtains and blinds during the day to keep the heat out
- Provide them with ice cubes to lick
How to keep chickens from overheating
Whilst chickens love to sunbathe, they aren't the best at regulating their temperature. Chickens can't sweat to cool themselves and in hot weather, they can be at risk of succumbing to heat stroke, illness or even death.
Make sure they have enough shade. You can even drape their coop with a cloth to provide extra cooling, whilst taking care to maintain good ventilation.
Frozen treats are another option. There are so many options, from frozen berries in their water, to offering your birds some chilled watermelon.
You can also try adding ice to their water.
Managing your horses in hot weather
Summer weather offers lots of can mean lots of opportunities for you and your horse to spend time together outside. However, as with other animals, horses are prone to dehydration and can suffer from heat exhaustion and heatstroke, especially as they're usually outside in the sun.
There are lots of ways you can help keep your horse happy and healthy all year round, from providing plenty of water and shade to riding earlier or later in the day. Research on horses working in the heat considers 28-30C and above as 'hot', but humidity also makes a difference. High humidity reduces the effectiveness of evaporative cooling through sweating. It's a good idea to monitor temperatures and humidity throughout the summer months. Here's how you can keep your horse cool.
- Make sure your horse has adequate shade
- Mist your horse with cool water
- Replenish their water regularly
- Only ride during cooler times of the day
Some owners even elect to use special horse sun-creams which are available, and some will use high SPF human sun-creams.
We hope you and your pets are staying safe and cool out there. Let us know if you have any additional tips for beating the heat and we'll be happy to share them.