Pet Charity Issues Warm Weather Warning to Westie Owners

Keep your dogs safe and well with the PDSA’s top tips

With temperatures rising, people across the country will be planning how to make the most of the warm weather – but vet charity PDSA has issued a warning for pet owners ahead of the sweltering heatwave this weekend.  

PDSA Vet Nurse, Gemma Renwick says: “Whilst some pets may appreciate pleasant weather just as we do, we need to make sure we are prepared to keep them safe and well.  After the cool start to spring, many pets won’t yet be acclimatized to hotter weather and whilst any pet can develop heatstroke flat-faced breeds, overweight pets or very young or old pets are most at risk.  

“In warmer weather, dogs, cats and other small pets can be at risk of heatstroke, which is an extremely serious condition.  Symptoms can develop quickly and may have fatal consequences. Signs of heatstroke vary from excessive panting, drooling, confusion, bright red/very pale gums, vomiting, diarrhoea, collapse or even seizures.  

“Fortunately, there are plenty of things we can do to keep our pets cool and safe as temperatures climb this weekend. 

If in doubt, don’t go out 

“Nearly three quarters of heatstroke cases in dogs happen whilst playing and exercising in hot weather. Though your dog might typically enjoy long walks and frolicking around the garden, it’s best to stay indoors for the hottest part of the day. This is generally around 12-3pm, so if you’re planning on being outside, aim for the early morning or evening.  

“Remember, even at these times the weather can feel uncomfortably close or humid during a hot spell. So, if it’s very hot think about skipping the walks and playing some games in the house instead, making sure your dog or cat has plenty of shade and fresh water easily available.  

“If you do venture out, avoid strenuous exercise like running or games of fetch. Instead, stick to gentle walking and allow your pup plenty of time to sniff, keeping their brain active as well as their legs. 

Provide plenty of shade and water 

“If you’re planning on heading out of the house with your pooch, make sure to pack a supply of clean, cool water to keep them hydrated throughout the day. Even if you’re only out for a short while and it doesn’t seem that warm to you, it’s important to take a drink for your pup in case they get thirsty. 

“Whether you’re embarking on a stroll along a coastal trail, country lane or inner-city street, seek areas of shade and rest more often than you would if you were walking without your pet – imagine how often you’d take a break if you were hiking in a fur coat!  

“Prevention is better than cure, so keeping your dog cool in the first place is essential when the weather gets warm. Allowing your furry friend to paddle in a shallow pool or stream is a great way to help them keep cool – just make sure the water is safe and clean before they venture in. 

“Our pet cats and rabbits are generally much better at relaxing and taking it easy in the heat. However, it is important to check before closing any enclosed spaces such as hutches, sheds, greenhouses, and conservatories in case they may have snuck in for a nap! They too will need constant access to fresh, cool water and plenty of shade. 

Be wary of heat traps  

“Whatever the weather, you should never leave your pet in enclosed, unventilated spaces, such as cars, vans, hutches, tents, caravans, or sheds. Even humans find it unbearable sitting in a conservatory for too long on a hot day.  

Remember dogs die in hot cars as well as on hot walks). Most people believe it will never happen to their pet, yet every year dogs continue to die in hot cars. Cars can quickly heat up to dangerously high temperatures, even when it’s not particularly hot outside – for example on a 22°c day the inside of a car can reach an unbearable 47°C within an hour! 

“Throughout the day, keep windows and doors open on the shaded side of the house where it’s safe to do so, as this will allow plenty of fresh air to filter into the room. Check water bowls throughout the day and be on hand to provide plenty of refills. Pop a few ice cubes in your pet’s water bowl to help their water stay cool throughout the day. 

“If you’re leaving your furry friend at home for a short time, ensure they’re in a cool, shaded room with plenty of access to fresh water – draw the curtains, put a fan on a high shelf out of reach, or leave them a pet-safe cool mat to make sure they don’t get too warm while you’re gone. 

Cut back on the coat 

“For dogs with thicker fur, hot weather can be especially uncomfortable. Brush your dog daily, to remove any loose fur that can act as an insulating layer. As the temperature rises, consider having your pooch’s coat groomed and thinned out or clipped shorter to help prevent them from overheating. Some breeds of dog have a coat which isn’t suitable for clipping so you should seek advice from your vet or a dog groomer.  

Apply suncream 

“Just like us, our pets can get sunburnt – especially if your pet has light-coloured fur (ginger/white) or any thin fur/bald patches. The most common places to get sunburnt are their ears, eyelids and tummy. It can be extremely painful for them and can sometimes lead to skin cancer. Pets can develop skin cancer from sun damage even if they haven’t been burnt by the sun. That’s why protecting them from the sun with pet-safe sunblock is essential.  

“Many companies have sun cream specifically designed for pets. You’ll be able to find cat sun cream, dog sun cream, and even horse sun cream. Make sure the sun cream is pet/child safe, SPF30 or higher, and waterproof.” 

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