Your ultimate guide to warm weather for pets in the UK: Tips, tricks, and expert advice
8th August, 2023
The weather is warming up, and with that comes a whole new set of considerations for caring for your pets. This ultimate guide to warm weather for pets in the UK is designed to help you understand the impact of warm weather on your furry friends and learn how to keep them safe, happy, and cool when the temperature rises.
Introduction to warm weather and it’s impact on pets
As much as we love the warmth and sunshine that summer brings, it's important to remember that our pets may not share our enthusiasm.
Unlike humans, pets can't sweat through their skin and so they are much more susceptible to overheating. Warm weather can cause dehydration, heatstroke, and other serious health problems in pets if not properly managed.
Heat impacts different animals in different ways. Dogs, for example, are prone to overheating because they can only cool down by panting and through the pads of their feet.
Cats are a bit more adept at handling the heat, but they can still suffer from dehydration and sunburn. Small animals like rabbits and guinea pigs are extremely susceptible to heat stroke, while birds can become overheated if their cages are in direct sunlight.
What temperature is too hot for pets?
Every pet is unique, and what's comfortable for one may be too hot for another. Generally, temperatures above 26°C (79°F) can be dangerous for pets, particularly for dogs, rabbits, and guinea pigs.
However, older pets, flat faced breeds (like Bulldogs, Pugs, and Persian cats), and pets with thick fur are at risk even at lower temperatures. These pets may begin to experience discomfort when the temperature hits 20°C (68°F).
It's advised to pay close attention to your pet's comfort levels during warmer weather. If they're seeking shade, panting excessively, or appear lethargic, it may be a sign that they're too hot. Always provide a cool, shaded area for your pet to retreat to when temperatures rise.
Understanding pet behaviour and signs of discomfort in warm weather
Recognising signs of discomfort in your pet is advised for ensuring their well being during warmer weather. Pets can't tell us when they're feeling too hot, so we need to understand their behaviour and physical signals.
Dogs may show signs of discomfort by panting excessively, drooling, and becoming lethargic. They may also have an increased heart rate, seem uncoordinated or confused, and could even collapse.
Cats, on the other hand, might groom excessively in an attempt to cool down. They may also pant, move less, and seek out cool, shady spots.
Recognising the signs of heatstroke in pets
Heatstroke is a serious condition that can occur if a pet is exposed to high temperatures for too long. It's characterised by an elevated body temperature and can lead to organ failure or even death if not treated promptly.
Signs of heatstroke in pets include:
- Excessive panting
- Uncoordinated movement
If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet during warm weather, it's crucial to act immediately. Move your pet to a cooler area, provide fresh, cool water to drink, and consider contacting your vet as soon as possible.
Tips for keeping your pets cool in extreme heat
When the mercury rises, it's important to take steps to keep your pets cool and comfortable. One of the most effective ways to do this is by providing plenty of fresh, cool water at all times throughout warm day. Pets can become dehydrated quickly in hot weather, so it's essential to monitor their water intake and refill their bowls regularly.
Another effective method is to provide shade. Whether it's a shaded areas in the garden, a cool room in the house, or a specially designed pet cooling mat, make sure your pet has somewhere to retreat from the sun's rays during the hot weather.
You could also consider investing in a pet-friendly shaded paddling pool. Many dogs love splashing around in water, and it can be a great way to help them cool down. Just make sure the water is shallow enough for your pet to stand in and that they can easily get in and out of the pool.
Going on a trip this summer? You might be interested in our other article, tips for travelling with pets, for more tricks on making sure your pets are comfortable during summer adventures.
The importance of hydration for Pets in Warm Weather
Hydration is crucial for pets, especially during warm weather. Dehydration can lead to serious health problems, including kidney disease and heatstroke. It's important to ensure your pet has access to fresh, clean water at all times, and you may need to encourage them to drink more during hot weather.
One way to keep your dog hydrated is by adding wet food to their diet. Wet food has a higher water content than dry food, helping to increase your pet's overall water intake. You could also try adding a few ice cubes to their water bowl to keep it cool and encourage them to drink.
Remember, if your pet appears to be drinking less than usual or showing signs of dehydration (such as dry gums, lethargy, or loss of appetite), it's advised to seek veterinary advice immediately.
Safe outdoor activities for pets during warm weather
There are plenty of fun outdoor activities you can enjoy with your pet during warm weather. However, it's important to plan these activities carefully to ensure your pet stays safe and comfortable.
Avoid exercising your pet in the heat of the day. Instead, opt for early morning or late evening when temperatures are cooler. Always bring plenty of water for both you and your pet, and take regular breaks in the shade.
Remember, some surfaces (like asphalt and sand) can get incredibly hot in the sun and can burn your pet's paws. A simple rule of thumb for hot surfaces is if it's too hot for your hand, it's too hot for your pet's paws.
Walking your dog in hot weather
Walking your dog is an essential part of their routine, but it can be challenging during warm weather. The key is to plan your walks carefully to avoid the hottest part of the day. Early morning or late evening is usually best.
Always bring plenty of water for both you and your dog, and consider carrying a portable water bowl for your pup. Look for walking routes with plenty of shade, and avoid walking on hot pavements which can burn your dog's paws.
Never leave your dog tied up outside a shop or in a car while you run errands. Even a few minutes in a hot car can be deadly for a dog.
Warm weather pet advice in the UK: What the experts say
Expert advice on caring for pets in warm weather largely echoes the tips provided in this guide. The RSPCA, for example, urges pet owners to ensure their pets have constant access to shade and fresh water, and to never leave a pet in a car, even for a short time.
The Blue Cross also emphasises the importance of avoiding walks during the hottest part of the day, and suggests using pet-safe sun cream on exposed parts of your pet's skin, such as the tips of their ears and nose, to prevent sunburn.
Remember, if you're ever unsure about how to care for your pet in warm weather, it's always best to seek advice from a professional.
The ultimate guide to warm weather for pets: essential items to have
Being prepared can make a big difference when it comes to keeping your pet or dog safe and comfortable in warm weather. Some essential items to have on hand include:
- Pet-friendly sun cream: This can help protect exposed areas of your pet's skin from sunburn.
- A cooling mat or pet bed: These can provide a cool place for your pet to rest.
- A pet water fountain: This can encourage your pet to drink more and stay hydrated.
- A pet-safe paddling pool: This can offer a fun way for your pet to cool down.
- A portable water bowl: This is essential for keeping your pet hydrated on walks.
Common misconceptions about pets and warm weather
There are many misconceptions about pets and warm weather.
One common misconception is that pets don't need as much water in warm weather as they do in colder weather. In fact, pets need more water in warm weather to stay hydrated and cool.
Another misconception is that pets can cool down by sweating like humans. While pets do have some sweat glands, they are not as effective as ours, and pets primarily cool down by panting and through the pads of their feet.
Finally, there's a misconception that shaving a pet's fur can help them stay cool in the summer.
In reality, a pet's fur can actually act as a form of insulation, keeping pets cool and helping them stay protected in the heat.
Safety measures: Protecting pets from heatstroke and other warm weather hazards
Some top tips on several safety measures you can take to protect your pets from heatstroke and other warm weather hazards:
- Provide plenty of shade and fresh water: This can help prevent dehydration and overheating.
- Avoid exercising pets in the heat of the day: This can help prevent overheating.
- Never leave a pet in a car: Even a few minutes in a hot car can be deadly.
- Use pet-friendly sun cream: This can protect exposed areas of your pet's skin from sunburn.
- Monitor your pet for signs of heatstroke: If you notice any signs of heatstroke, seek veterinary help immediately.
Conclusion: Embracing warm weather with your pets in the UK
Warm weather can be a wonderful time to enjoy the great outdoors with your pet, but it's important to keep their comfort and safety in mind. By understanding the impact of warm weather on pets and taking appropriate measures to keep them cool and hydrated, you can ensure your pet stays happy and healthy all summer long.
Remember, if you're ever unsure about how to care for your pet in warm weather, don't hesitate to seek advice from a professional. And for added peace of mind, consider investing in pet insurance. This can help cover the cost of any unexpected veterinary bills and ensure your pet receives the best possible care.
To get more advice and a pet insurance quote for your furry friend, you can get a quote through our website by clicking here. If you would like to talk to one of our pet insurance team, you can get in touch with us on 0330 102 5748. Your pet's health and happiness are our top priority, and we're here to help you navigate the challenges of warm weather with your pet in the UK.
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