Beach towels

Hot weather advice for pet owners

While the warmer weather is upon us it is important to remember that animals can suffer from the same problems that humans do if they are exposed to the sun, including sunburn, overheating and dehydration. Always ensure your pet has cool, fresh drinking water available and please follow Leicester Animal Aid’s tips for sun safety.

Cats

  • Always ensure your cat has a shady area to retreat to on a warm day.
  • Cats are particularly prone to skin cancer so ensure you apply a non-toxic, high factor sun cream to their ear flaps.
  • Groom long haired cats regularly as they will shed their winter undercoat in time for summer to help keep them cool.
  • Change wet food and litter trays regularly to help keep flies away.
  • Why not make some tasty tuna or pilchard juice ice cubes for your cats?!

Dogs

  • NEVER leave your dog in the car as this can lead to quick fatality, even parking in the shade or leaving the windows open is very dangerous as temperatures in the car can still soar.
  • Remember that a conservatory (even with the windows open) or a garden without shade are dangerous places when it’s hot.
  • If you are travelling anywhere in the car with your dog make sure you have a supply of water
  • Avoid walking your dog in the hottest part of the day, between 11am and 3pm.
  • Keep long haired dogs cooler by grooming them to get rid of excess hair and clip long haired dogs for the summer season. Do not shave their hair as this leaves the skin prone to sunburn.
  • Be extra vigilant with older, short nosed and overweight dogs as they are more prone to overheat. In a real emergency wet your dog thoroughly with cool water, never iced, and use a household fan to blow cool air over their head and body. Seek urgent veterinary attention.
  • If you give your dog treats in a Kong, why not freeze it overnight to provide your pet with a new challenge and a frozen snack!

Heatstroke

  • All animals can suffer the effects of heatstroke, which can be fatal if not recognised and treated early on.
  • Signs and symptoms include; heavy panting, red gums and tongue, lethargy, lack of coordination, reluctance or inability to rise after collapsing, vomiting and diarrhoea.
  • If suffering from heastroke, move the dog to a cool, shaded area and call a vet immediately. Put cool (but not cold) water onto the dog. Use wet towels and put in breeze of a fan if possible. Allow the dog to take small drinks of water. Continue this process until the breathing begins to settle. Once the dog has began to cool down, take to the nearest vets as a matter of urgency.
  • Some dogs are prone to heatstroke, such as very old or very young dogs, those with flat faces, such as pugs and bulldog types. 
  • Under the Animal Welfare Act you have a legal duty to care for your animal and if you put your animal at risk, you could face prosecution.

Dogs in hot cars

  • Never leave your dog in a car on a hot day
  • Even in the shade with the windows cracked open, a car can become unbearbly hot very quickly.
  • On a 22 degree day, a car can become 47 degrees in an hour.
  • If you are concerned or the dog is starting to show signs of heatstroke, call 999, the RSPCA do not have powers of entry.

Help a dog in a hot car

  • Establish the dog's condition. If they are displaying signs of heatstroke, dial 999 immediately.
  • If the situation becomes critical for the dog and the police are too far away/unable to attend, many people's instinct will be to break into the car to free the dog. 
  • If you decide to do this, please be aware that without proper justification, this could be classed as criminal damage and you may need to defend your actions in court.
  • Make sure you tell the police what you intend to do and take photos/video of the dog and names and numbers of witnesses.
  • The law states that you have a lawful excuse to commit damage if you believe that the owner of the property that you damage would consent to the damage if they knew the circumstances (section 5(2)(a) Criminal Damage Act 1971).

Once removed, if the dog is displaying signs of heatstroke, follow emergency first aid advice for heatstroke above. 


If the dog is not displaying symptoms of heatstroke:

  • Establish how long the dog has been in the car. A ‘pay and display’ ticket could help.
  • Make a note of the car’s registration. If the owner returns, but you still feel the situation was dangerous for the dog, you may still report the incident to the police.
  • If you’re at a superstore/venue/event ask the staff to make an announcement to alert the owner of the situation.
  • If possible, get someone to stay with the dog to monitor their condition. If they begin to display signs of distress/heatstroke, be prepared to dial 999.
  • You can also call the RSPCA Cruelty Line on 0300 1234 999. However, if the dog is in danger, dialing 999 should always be the first step.