Taking care of your pets in a heatwave

Saturday, 23rd June, 2018 8:07pm

Taking care of your pets in a heatwave

Charles Cosgrave from Village Vets, and his four-legged friend.

With the warm sunny weather hopefully here to stay, the nation is united in a universal appreciation of a rare Irish summer, after a painfully long winter. This sunny spell brings with it long hot days spent out in the garden, family BBQs, and even a new found love of exercise with many of us taking to the streets and parks of Ireland to go walking and running, with our dogs by our sides. Unfortunately, while we humans relish the higher temperatures, our furry friends and pets often struggle in the heat and sunshine, regularly resulting in illness and emergency visits to the vet. 

Vet Charles Cosgrave from Village Vets, with clinics in Dublin and Meath, has compiled a list of top tips for taking care of pets in warm weather, along with things to look out for and tell tale signs your pet needs a visit to the vet.

Cats Top tip: Factor 50 to Protect Your Cats Ears from Skin Cancer

While we often hear shocking stories of poor pups left in parked cars on sunny days, this doesn’t happen as often with cats given they have more independence outside. Interestingly, cats are evolved from desert species, so their bodies are adapted at water conservation and heat management, but one shocking and worrying point to note is that cats develop get skin cancer on the tips of their ears (white cats especially). This is very serious and can often spread fast. Cats require factor 50 sunscreen, the same as ourselves, as these areas have very little hair to protect them from the sun. 

Along with kitty sunscreen - 

Make sure your garden has plenty of shaded areas for your cat to lie in to keep cool

For indoor cats, ensure the room your cat is in is extremely well ventilated

Keep an abundance of fresh water outside in the shade, in case your cat wants to have a drink while still outside

Feed your cat mostly wet food to keep hydration levels up

With bowls being left outside, be aware that the sun can heat up stainless steel bowls and their contents; which could be uncomfortable for your cat

As with all cats venturing outdoors, ensure your cat is microchipped in case they get lost

Top Tips for Dogs

A large number of dogs become extremely sick during sunny weather as a result of birds drinking from their water bowls and contaminating the water with bacteria. This can be easily avoided by leaving out water for wild birds, separate to water for dogs. Over the recent warm spell (approx. 7 days) Village Vets has seen 18 cases of haemorrhagic diarrhoea, along with vomiting, as a result of contaminated water bowls. Treatment involves admitting the pets for hospitalisation, drips to correct dehydration, and antibiotics. Recovery takes up to five days of hospitalisation.

Other incidents treated by Village Vets have included dogs eating BBQ remains such as jumbo sausages and corn on the cob, which become stuck and require surgical removal. While every dog needs daily walks, walking at times of intense sunshine and heat is definitely to be avoided. Village Vets has seen a large number of dogs suffering severe dehydration, heat stroke and collapse, having been walked at the height of the afternoon heat. These incidents are quite serious and needs intensive hospitalisation and fluid therapy by drip. Dogs should be walked early in morning and late evening to avoid this. This most common occurs with flat nose breeds (pugs, bulldogs etc).

Top Tips for rabbits and guinea pigs in hot weather - watch out for signs of heat exhaustion 

Make sure rabbits and guinea pigs can access shade if they live outdoors. Place their hutch in a cool area with good airflow and move it around shadiest parts of the garden as the sun moves

Avoid plastic hutches as they can get extremely hot under the sun, and opt for wood instead

Place ice packs around the cage for them to lean up against if they want to cool themselves down. Make your own ice packs by freezing 2L bottles of water

Leave out several bowls of fresh, cool water and top them up regularly. Keep an eye on them to make sure they drink plenty

If they are housed indoors normally, ensure air conditioning is on 

Do not expose rabbits to sudden changes in temperature I.e. from hot to cold. Outdoor rabbits get used to hot environments and don’t need to be brought in during the heat of the day 

Rabbits lose a lot of heat through their ears, so you can aid this process by misting their ears regularly with cool water

Guinea pigs can’t dissipate heat as easily as rabbits because their ears are tiny – it is important to keep guinea pigs inside during high temperatures

Watch out for signs of heat exhaustion such as disinterest in food, lethargy, lying on their side, rapid breathing, unresponsiveness or convulsions. If you suspect heat stroke, dampen their ears and body with cool water as you prepare to visit the vet. Do NOT submerge them or use freezing water as this can cause them to go into shock

Village Vets is a family run practice with 10 clinics in Dublin and Meath.  Village Vets’ team of experts truly understand how important your pet is to you and your family and promises to always treat your pet the same way they would if it were their own pet.

For more information on Village Vets visit https://www.villagevets.ie/

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