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How to care for pets in hot weather including dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs




Soaring temperatures can pose huge risks to animals and with the weekend's scorching temperatures continuing, pet owners may be wondering how to best keep their creatures cool and comfortable.

The RSPCA is advising people to pay special attention to their animals, however big or small, in the hot weather to avoid heat exhaustion. Here are some of its top tips:

Take animals for a walk early in the morning or in the evening to avoid the hottest temperatures
Take animals for a walk early in the morning or in the evening to avoid the hottest temperatures

Exercise

Animals like dogs and horses require regular exercise but the RSPCA says this should be avoided when the weather is excessively hot. Experts advise heading out early in the morning or evening when it’s cooler and when walking dogs, owners are reminded to check the heat of the pavements before setting off. If the concrete or tarmac is too hot to touch with your hand it will be too hot for a dog’s paws.

Avoid the temptation to take your dog out with you for the day when it's very hot
Avoid the temptation to take your dog out with you for the day when it's very hot


Stay at home

If temperatures soar and you’re planning to spend several hours outdoors enjoying the sun, try and avoid the temptation to take your dog with you. Spending prolonged periods of time in the sunshine without shade poses a risk to pets. If you're not going for longer than four hours, then leave them at home, advises the RSPCA.

While many dog owners are aware of the dangers of leaving animals in cars, caution over caravans and conservatories is also being expressed too. Animals can quickly overheat if left in any hot environment.

Chilled salad and vegetables can give animals added moisture if they're outside in the warm
Chilled salad and vegetables can give animals added moisture if they're outside in the warm

Frozen treats

Just as we offer ice creams to the kids, frozen treats can also keep your pets cool. Frozen dog treats or chilled fresh vegetables for animals like rabbits and guinea pigs, can all lower temperatures or adding ice cubes to water bowls. Even a frozen ice lolly from dog friendly ingredients would go down well during scorching temperatures!

You can also wrap an ice pack or frozen water bottle in a tea towel and place near your animal to cool the air around them or use damp towels for your pet to lie on if you don't own an actual cooling mat.

Guinea pigs may need moving around the garden as the sun moves to ensure they remain in the shade
Guinea pigs may need moving around the garden as the sun moves to ensure they remain in the shade

Sun cream and shade

Pets can get sunburn too. Pet-safe sun cream is available to buy should your animal be out in the sun and require it. But do ensure animals have constant access to shade and fresh drinking water at all times. For animals that are kept outside, like rabbits and guinea pigs, owners must remember that as the sun moves during the day so too does the shade and a place that was in the shade in the morning could be in the direct sun by the afternoon. Pets may need moving around the garden in their outdoor enclosures to keep them in the coolest spot out of direct sunlight.

Those who own chickens can try hanging vegetable necklaces in more shady spots to encourage their animals to move and stay out of the sun.

Animals at risk of flystrike should be checked regularly
Animals at risk of flystrike should be checked regularly

Check for flystrike

The RSPCA advises small animals and poultry are checked twice a day for flystrike which is a painful condition caused by flies laying eggs on another animal, which then hatch into maggots and eat their 'hosts' flesh. You can find out more about flystrike and how to prevent it here.

Paddling pools and hoses can be helpful in letting dogs cool off
Paddling pools and hoses can be helpful in letting dogs cool off

Watch the water

When the weather is warm and the sun is strong fish tanks indoors should be kept out of direct sunlight. Water levels in ponds may need topping up too if the warm dry spell is particularly lengthy.

Dog owners could try letting their dog into a paddling pool to cool off, or using the fine spray of the hose to help cool them down. But, just as with children, never leave your animals unattended around deep water.

A tortoise cooling down in a bath
A tortoise cooling down in a bath

Pay attention to pesticides

If your animals are now spending more time in the garden during the better weather pay attention to any pesticides you may have used. Keep bottles and containers out of the reach of animals who may see them as a toy to play with and ensure anything you're using on your garden is safe for pets and children.

For more information and advice about keeping pets safe in the sun this summer you can visit the RSPCA website here.



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