Feeling the heat? Don’t forget to protect your pet, warn vets

02 July 2018

As temperatures continue to soar, pet owners are being warned to take extra care of their pets in the record-breaking UK heatwave.

Dogs may particularly struggle to stay cool in these high temperatures and humid conditions since, unlike humans, they are unable to cool down quickly through sweating, rendering them vulnerable to overheating. Brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds such as English or French bulldogs and pugs are even more at risk, as their short noses can make breathing properly difficult, and therefore cooling down much harder.

Some breeds of cats and dogs, particularly those with lighter-coloured or finer fur, may benefit from appropriate sun cream in hot weather, especially on the ears which are prone to sunburn.  Consult with your local vet to ensure you are providing the right protection in the right place. 

Rabbits should also be protected as they are often in a hutch or run that may become exposed to direct sunlight as the sun moves round through the day. Rabbits can also be affected by fly strike at this time of year so daily inspection around their back end and under their tail is essential. Seek veterinary advice immediately if your rabbit is affected. Likewise take care to ensure birds in cages or aviaries are not exposed to direct sun and have adequate shade.

British Veterinary Association President John Fishwick said:

“Many of us are struggling with the ongoing high temperatures but it’s important not to forget that many pets can suffer too. We’re advising owners to take some simple steps to ensure that their much-loved pets also stay happy and healthy this summer. Even relatively lower temperatures at the start and end of the day can prove uncomfortable for animals, especially if they are kept in direct sunlight without any shade.

“Vets know that dogs in particular won’t stop enjoying themselves and exercising because it is hot, so it’s up to owners to do all they can to prevent overheating happening – and be able to recognise the signs and act quickly if it does.

“If you’re concerned about your pet in the hot weather, we’d recommend contacting your local vet immediately.”

With more scorching temperatures forecast across the UK, BVA and British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) are highlighting eight simple steps to help keep dogs and other pets safe as the temperature rises:

  • Make sure pets always have adequate fresh water to drink.
  • Provide adequate ventilation at all times.
  • Avoid exercising dogs in the heat of the day: especially older dogs, brachycephalic (flat faced) breeds or dogs that you know have heart or lung problems.
  • Provide shade from the sun, especially during the hottest part of the day.
  • Watch out for early signs of heatstroke, such as heavy panting, restlessness and lack of coordination.
  • Never leave dogs in vehicles: “Not long” is too long.
  • Contact a vet immediately if the animal does not respond to efforts to cool it down.
  • If heatstroke or any other heat-related condition is suspected, dogs should be taken to a cool, well-ventilated place and given water to drink while seeking immediate advice from their local vet.

BVA Media Office