Sun safety – tips for keeping your pet safe in the hot weather

Sunshine and warm weather is glorious; think picnics, long walks in the park, barbecues and lazy days soaking up the sun. But a word of warning; pets need to stay safe in the sun just like us. Fulham veterinary nurse Rosie Martin gives her sun safety advice that will ensure your pet stays happy and healthy this summer…

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Dogs

  • Do not leave your dog in a car on a hot day, even if it is cloudy. Cars are like ovens; they heat up exceptionally quickly, even in the shade, and your dog can die of heat stroke in as little as half an hour. Leaving water or opening a window is useless; if you can grill sausages in an oven with the door open, you can kill a dog in a car with the window down
  • Avoid walking your dog during the hottest part of the day, typically 11am – 3pm. Schedule walks during the cooler morning and evening. Avoid encouraging your dog to chase balls or toys when it is very hot – your dog may not realise just how hot he is and may develop heatstroke.
  • Be careful of hot pavements; the tarmac can heat up dramatically and cause burns to your dog’s paw pads.
  • Make sure you take a bottle of water and a bowl for your dog when walking in summer. Offer water regularly.
  • Freeze toys with wet food inside to give your dog a chilled and exciting summer treat.
  • Give your dog plenty of opportunity to cool down in the shade.
  • Brachycephalic (short-nosed) and long-haired breeds are especially susceptible to heat stroke. Take extra care with these dogs.
  • Watch for the signs of heatstroke; lethargy, panting, dizziness, gloopy saliva, collapse. Call your vet immediately if you think your dog has heat stroke. Get your dog into the shade (in an air conditioned room if possible) and lower his temperature slowly with cool, wet towels over his body. Offer him small amounts of water. To help avoid your dog getting heatstroke and to keep them cool invest in a cooling vest.
  • Consider pet sunscreen if your dog has very thin fur or has a white coat. The most at-risk places are the nose and tips of the ears, but all parts of your dog can get sunburnt.

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Cats

  • Try to keep cats indoors during the hottest part of the day (11am – 3pm)
  • Make sure your cat has plenty of shaded spots, inside and out, to get away from the sun.
  • Encourage water intake by providing several different water sources around the house.
  • Make a fun, chilled treat by freezing cat milk (do not use cow’s milk as it will make your cat poorly).
  • If you have a white cat, use sunscreen on the nose and tips of the ears to prevent sunburn and reduce the risk of skin cancer.
  • Change wet food regularly to keep the flies away.

If you see any animal in a car on a warm day, call the RSPCA 24 hour national cruelty and advice line on 0300 1234 999 or the Police on 999.

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