Tips to protect your pet from the heat

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Dog. (Photo: Getty/Gallo Images)
Dog. (Photo: Getty/Gallo Images)

When days grow hot, many of us are only too grateful for cool, air-conditioned offices. But back home, our pets might not be as happy.

Animals in the wild have learnt to adapt to the seasons but our companion animals rely heavily on us to ensure their day is as comfortable as ours.

Here are a few tips for helping your furry and feathered friends to cope with the heat, whether they’re at home or out and about with you.

Cats

Water: Keep your kitty hydrated. Leave a large bowl of fresh water for her in a shaded area. Add a few spoonful’s of unsalted chicken or beef broth to encourage her to drink. Dehydration can lead to serious illness.

Shade: If your cat is outdoors during the day, make sure she has access to plenty of shade and check she isn’t accidentally shut in a shed or garage where the temperature can become deadly.

Brush: Matted fur and loose hairs trap heat so groom your cat regularly, especially if she’s along-haired breed.

Dogs

Paddle pool: Dogs can’t sweat through their skin like we do to cool off. They do sweat through their paw pads, but it’s by panting that dogs circulate the necessary air through their body to cool down.

Train your pup to cool off in a plastic pool and he’ll be able to regulate his temperature and have loads of fun doing it. If you’re in a drought area, a smaller container such as a plastic basin (kitchen-sink size) might be an option to dip his paws into. Leave plenty of fresh clean drinking water in a shady spot.

Footwear: Before buying hiking booties for your dog, make sure they’re suitable for summer – with durable soles and mesh to allow paws to breathe and not overheat.

Not a fan: Fans don’t work for dogs. Air conditioning does, and lying on a wet towel on floor tiles is also a great way to cool down.

Freeze: Fill a two-litre ice-cream container with water or broth, add chunks of fruit, a few meaty treats and a toy and freeze overnight. It will keep him busy, refreshed and cool.

Beach babe: The beach is fun for dogs but the blazing sun and hot sand can cause heatstroke. Keep your visit short.

The 5-second test: Stand barefoot or place your hand on the ground firmly and leave it there for five seconds. If the pavement or road surface is too hot for you, it’s also too hot for Buddy! Walk early in the morning or in the evening.

Birds

Cage position: Check that his cage is never exposed to full sunlight – a shaded spot in the morning could become like an oven by noon.

Emergency: Birds don’t have sweat glands. They themselves by breathing rapidly and holding their wings away from their body. If your bird shows signs of overheating, spray him with tepid water, especially under his wings, to cool him down.

Bathtime: Most birds love to splash and preen in a shallow bowl. Leave him one to play in – it will help to keep him cool too!

Rodents

Heatstroke: Caged pets are especially vulnerable to heatstroke as they can’t escape the heat. Make sure the cage gets no direct sun – draw the curtains to ensure a cool room if need be. Leave an oscillating fan on to make a gentle breeze. Guinea pigs are sensitive creatures and overheating can easily end in death. Panting is a sure sign he’s in trouble. Bathe or mist him with cool water and give water by syringe to help.

So cool: Leave a damp towel on the floor of his cage for him to lie on. If you’re home, place a frozen ice-brick on the cage roof. The cool air will sink down to him.

Glass aquariums are possibly the worst place to keep a pet, unless they’re fish! They can become like ammonia-laced furnaces in summer. Much more appropriate are barred cages which allow a flow of air and climbing opportunities for rats, mice and hamsters.

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