How to Keep Your Dogs and Cats Cool During a Heatwave

Heatwaves don't happen too often in the UK, so it's easy to embrace the wonderful sunny weather and forget to consider how your pet may feel. Unlike you, your dog or cat probably isn't accustomed to spending a week or two somewhere warmer every summer, so it's important to make sure that you keep them as cool and comfortable as possible.

Tips for keeping your dog cool during a heatwave

Dogs generally love water, which makes providing them with suitable coolers during the hot weather relatively simple. Here are some top tips to bear in mind:

  • Turn on the garden sprinkler and create shade near it, so that your dog can play in the water and then rest in the shade. 
  • Don't walk your dog in the afternoon sun. Once a dog is overheated, it is very difficult for it to cool down. 
  • Make sure that your dog has constant access to water.
  • Put out a wet or chilled blanket for your dog to relax on. 
  • Make doggy-lollies: freeze dog biscuits in water in either lolly or ice-cube form. 
  • A good old-fashioned fan can help, but let the dog go to the room where the air is being circulated of his own accord.
  • Encourage your dog to relax in rooms with cooler floors (e.g. a stone floor in a kitchen or garage). 
  • Never leave a dog in a car, even if all the windows are open and there's a breeze. 

Tips for keeping your cat cool during a heatwave

Although we're often told that cats don't like getting wet, water plays an important part in their heatwave wellbeing. Here are a few tips to keep your cat cool during hot weather:

  • Put your cat's blanket or favourite sleeping material in the freezer just long enough to chill it, but not for so long that it is frozen stiff!
  • If your cat has favourites toys, do the same as above.
  • Put a wet blanket on the floor, either side of their cat flap or the door they use to come in and out your home.
  • Make sure that your cat's drinking water is chilled.
  • Some cats will happily eat a slightly chilled pouch of food - if yours is not, don't force it.
  • Dampen their ears with water (using your hands).
  • Dampen your cats paws with water. 
  • To the same effect, if you have a lawn water it slightly in the areas you know that your cat will use. 
  • Open windows and close curtains to create shade and draught.

How to recognise heatstroke in a dog or cat

Pet owners don't always recognise the symptoms of heatstroke in their cats and dogs. If you're worried that your pet may be overheating, here are some key symptoms to look out for: 

  • Panting
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive dribbling (ptyalism)
  • A high body temperature (above 39°C)
  • Reddened gums and moist tissues of the body
  • Passing less urine than usual
  • Rapid heart rate

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