Summer is such a wonderful time of year - the days get longer, the temperature rises and everybody is definitely in the mood for soaking up the sun! It's important to consider the health of your animals during the warmer and brighter weather, so here are some tips to help everybody stay safe in the sun this summer.
The most simple way to ensure your pets are kept healthy this summer is to provide them with enough water. All animals should have a constant supply of clean, fresh water at all times, but during the summer they are likely to drink much more. It is important to keep an eye on your dog and cat's water bowls, and for small animals and rabbits make sure you top up their water bottles regularly.
Provide your pets with somewhere shady to rest and cool down when the temperature soars during the afternoon. This is especially important for rabbits, who are often left in a hutch and really start to bake as they don't have the choice to move out of the heat. Direct sunlight can cause a lot of damage and even lead to heatstroke.
Always look out for signs of heatstroke in your pets. Collapsing is the most obvious sign, but this will have been after heavy panting, excessive salivation, distress and disorientation. If you think your pet has heat stroke call your vet immediately and attempt to cool them down by wrapping them in cool (not too cold) towels to gently lower their body temperature.
Avoid walking your dogs during the afternoon, as this is when the temperature is at it's highest as the sun reaches it's peak. Elderly dogs, puppies, overweight dogs and flat-faced breeds are most likely to suffer, so consider walking them in the morning before the sun rises and in the evening when the temperature is falling again. They are much more likely to enjoy their walk without feeling too hot and bothered!
Rabbits are susceptible to a devastating maggot infestation known as flystrike. This is most common in rabbits confined to hutches, as they are struggle to keep away from their mess and the heat and faeces attract flies, which lay eggs in the rabbits skin. As the eggs hatch, they become maggots, which cause a lot of pain and irritation to the rabbit. Rearguard is a preventative medication that is simply dabbed along the rabbit's back and around their tail to deter flies - ask your vet for details. Always check that your rabbit has a clean bottom, and gently wipe them with a clean damp cloth if necessary. Also, ensure their hutch is kept spick and span so flies aren't tempted!
Provide wildlife and fish with shade over any ponds, as the water temperature can rise rapidly and they need somewhere to cool down and regulate their body temperature.
Animals with pale (such as white or very light tan) fur, or thin fur are likely to burn in the sun. It's always worth applying pet-friendly suncream to exposed areas with sparse fur, such as ear tips and noses. This applies mainly to cats and dogs, who tend to burn easily.
Lighter coloured dogs are susceptible to sunburn, so it's best to invest in some pet-friendly suncream.
If your pet turns their nose up at their food in the morning, it's best to discard it sooner rather than later as flies are attracted to the meat as it starts to go off in the hot weather. Avoid your dog or cat ingesting larvae by providing fresh food in clean bowls, and consider giving them smaller meals more often so no food is left behind and wasted.
Treat your pets to a salon trip before the temperature really increases. Dogs with long and thick fur are far more likely to suffer in the heat, so it's advisable to get them booked in for a trim to help keep them cool and looking lovely (as always).
Never leave dogs in locked cars! Even with a supply of water and windows open, they can easily succumb to heatstroke in a very short amount of time, so the risk is never worth it. As cars are made of metal and glass, they absorb heat at an incredible rate, and are very dangerous for dogs during the summer as temperatures inside the vehicle can reach more than double the heat outside. You can call 999 to alert the police of a dog stuck in a hot car.
You can find more information about pet care during the summer months here. Remember, the summer can be enjoyed safely by just following these basic steps to keep your pets happy and healthy. Enjoy the sun whilst it lasts!