Pet charity warns of weather dangers as temperatures soar

With temperatures set to soar above 30 degrees next week, Blue Cross pet chairty is warning pet owners of the dangers of pets in the heat and is offering advice to keep pets safe in the sun.

Wednesday, 1st July 2020, 8:08 am
Keeping cool in the summer

Alison Thomas, Senior Veterinary Surgeon at the Blue Cross hospital in London Victoria said: “While we enjoy the sunshine and warm weather this week it is important to make sure our pets are kept safe. They can quickly overheat and sometimes this can be extremely dangerous and even fatal.

“The heatwave will certainly prove too hot for most of our pets, so please do walk dogs early in the morning and late at night once it’s cooled down.”

A Blue Cross survey of 1,300 pet owners revealed nearly six in ten pet owners admitted they don’t consider walking or letting their pets out at cooler times of day, putting them at risk of heatstroke and even burns to their pet’s paws from hot tarmac and pavements.

A simple test to check if the tarmac is too hot to walk your dog is to take your own shoes off and stand on the path. If you are unable to keep your feet on the path for five seconds, then it is not safe to walk your dog.

Flat-faced breeds, such as French bulldogs and pugs and Persian cats, are at a greater risk of heatstroke and collapse as their short muzzles can make breathing difficult, therefore cooling down much harder. Older pets and those who are overweight also struggle.

And it’s not just dogs that can be seriously affected by hot weather dangers.

The survey also revealed 57 per cent of pet owners are unaware of the life-threatening dangers open windows and balcony doors pose to their animals, while 51 per cent still believe that a cat’s ability to land on their feet would save them in a fall.

Blue Cross’s animal hospital in Victoria, London, regularly treats reported cases of cats falling from heights, resulting in broken bones, internal injuries and sadly sometimes, death.

Already this year, the hospital has treated several cats who’ve fallen out of windows, including a six-month-old kitten who broke six toes when landing from a fall, needing metal pins secured to fix them.

Alison said: “With the hot and humid summer weather, and more of us staying indoor due to coronavirus, please don’t leave windows or balcony doors open. If you’ve got a cat, don’t leave a gap.”

The pet charity advises owners to put up screens and netting at windows to prevent inquisitive pets falling from windows and to keep balcony doors closed. Owners can also install tip and tilt windows.

Blue Cross also advises:

Walk your dog during cooler times of day in the early morning or evening and avoid strenuous games.

Make sure your pet has access to clean water at all times, ideally in a large bowl filled to the brim. Older animals, particularly cats, are vulnerable to dehydration.

As a general rule, if it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your pooch’s paws. If your dog is one that needs a long walk to burn off excess energy, find other ways to stimulate them instead.

Light-coloured dogs and cats can get sunburnt which can lead to skin cancer. Keep sunbathing pets indoors when the sun is strongest. You can also apply a non-toxic human sunscreen or one specifically for pets to vulnerable areas like ears and noses.

Pets with thick fur will need regular grooming and even a trim to prevent them overheating. Seek advice from a professional groomer.

For small pets like rabbits and guinea pigs, make sure their hutches and runs are in shady areas so they can keep cool and make sure they are clean at all times with water topped up.

Make ice cubes with your pet’s favourite treat inside.

Have a paddling pool with cool water in the garden for dogs to play in.

If you suspect your animal is suffering from heatstroke, remove them to a cool place, dampen their coat with tepid water on a towel and contact a vet immediately. Avoid overcooling, especially small pets.

For more advice on how to keep your animal safe this summer visit www.bluecross.org.uk/summer