Good advice for keeping your pets safe in the sun – and don’t forget, hot surfaces can burn your dog’s foot pads
With temperatures set to rise, leading animal welfare charity, Battersea, which has a centre near Sevenoaks, is advising dog and cat owners to take all the necessary precautions – particularly owners of popular designer brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds.
These flat-faced dogs, such as French Bulldogs and Pugs, have shot up in popularity over recent years – but unscrupulous breeding means their cute looks can mask a host of health problems, including difficulty breathing. Vets have likened their short airways to trying to breathe through a drinking straw.
Battersea has seen a huge increase in the numbers of these breeds coming into its centres as their owners realise they cannot cope with the veterinary treatment many of these dogs need – and they can really suffer in hot weather.
Battersea’s Veterinary Director, Shaun Opperman, explains: “Breeds such as the ever-popular French Bulldog are falling victim to irresponsible breeding because of their increasing popularity.
“Many brachycephalic dogs have difficulty breathing due to a number of factors related to their shortened muzzle – their airways are overlong, narrowed and convoluted. The problems this causes are exacerbated in hot weather, even above 20°C, so owners should be particularly vigilant in the summer months.”
Battersea has top tips to keep dogs safe during the warm weather:
- Plan your walk
Try and avoid taking your dog out in the midday sun – when the temperature is at its hottest. An early morning or evening walk will be cooler and more pleasant for your dog but flat-faced dogs may benefit more from gentle indoor exercise.
- Always remember water
Ensure your dog or cat has easy access to plenty of clean drinking water especially in the summer.
Never leave a dog in the car or conservatory
Do not leave your dog alone in the car under any circumstances. Leaving them alone in a car when it is warm for even a few minutes can be fatal – even if the car is parked in the shade, or a window has been left open. Leaving your dog in the conservatory can also have the same effects as leaving them in the car.
- Keep them cool
Encourage your dog to stay in shaded areas, away from direct sunlight. Putting a damp towel for them to lie on or providing a shallow paddling pool in the shade can also help.
- Introduce new games to keep them busy indoors
Freezing their food, making pet friendly ice-lollies, or using special food puzzles, can keep them busy. However, take care to ensure brachycephalic dogs don’t get too overexcited as this can cause them to overheat.
- Protect their foot pads
Hot surfaces can burn your dog’s foot pads, particularly sand or tarmac. If these surfaces feel too hot for you, then it is too hot for your dog. If you must take your dog for a walk, try keeping to public grassy areas.
- Sun cream for dogs and cats
Specially formulated sun cream for animals can be found in most pet shops. If unsure – always check with your vet first.
- Look out for heatstroke
Heatstroke is when your dog can’t reduce their body temperature and it can be fatal. The signs to look out for include:
- Heavy panting
- Glazed eyes
- A rapid pulse
- Excessive salivation
- Lack of coordination
- Vomiting or diarrhoea
- Loss of consciousness
If you spot any of the signs in your dog, act fast. Take them to a cool, shaded area. Apply a towel soaked in cold water to their head, neck and chest, and let them drink water or lick an ice cube. Never place them directly into ice cold water or give them too much to drink as they may go into shock.
For more advice on how to keep your dogs and cats cool in the summer, please visit: https://www.battersea.org.uk/pet-advice/dog-care-advice/summer-dog-care.