With the West Country in the midst of a heatwave, the RSPCA are preparing for an increase in animal welfare calls.
The heat is expected to reach highs of mid 30s, and pet owners are being advised to keep their animals safe. Experts and vets are also calling for the public to be aware of how to care for the wildlife during the heat.
Prevention is better than a cure so, pet owners should take extra precautions during the hot weather.
WHAT THE RSCPA RECOMMENDS:
- Ensure animals have access to shade, fresh drinking water and someone who can check on them at all times. Do not take your pets out with you to things like festivals if you cannot guarantee this.
- At night If horses or livestock are housed during hot weather, buildings must be adequately ventilated and monitored regularly.
- Ensure your pets can access a cool room at night - like a kitchen with a cool, tiled floor to lie on - so they can cool themselves down.
- Don’t let your pet get sunburnt - use pet-safe sun cream.
- Keep your pets indoors or in a cool and shaded area.
- Put out shallow dishes of water and food for wildlife who may be struggling in the hot weather due to dried up streams and hard ground.
- ️Freeze your dog’s water bowl or kong, or add ice cubes to your pet’s bowl.
- Use cold treats from the fridge or make an ice lolly from pet-friendly ingredients.
- Buy a cooling mat, wrap an ice pack or frozen water bottle in a tea towel, or use damp towels for your pet to lie on.
- Fill a paddling pool or spray a hose for your dog to play in but always supervise around water.
- Keep an eye out for wildlife when using lawnmowers or strimmers.
- With exotic pets, such as snakes and tortoises, check vivariums are secured and take care if allowing reptiles to exercise or bask out in the garden.
- Provide a cool stream of air by keeping windows open or using a fan.
THINGS TO AVOID:
- Never leave pets in vehicles, caravans, conservatories or outbuildings in the warm weather. Dogs - and other pets - can overheat and die if left in a hot environment, such as a car or shed.
- Transportation of farm animals in hot weather should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.️
- Keep fish tanks out of direct sunlight and top up water levels of ponds.
- Keep pesticides out of reach of animals.
The animals at Noah's Ark Zoo Farm near Bristol have been enjoying the sunshine, and keeping nice and cool in the water too.
Video credit: Noah's Ark Zoo Farm
The main issue the RSPCA are trying to prevent is heatstroke and heat exhaustion in animals. Keep your pets indoors or in a cool, shaded area when the temperatures are hitting 30 degrees and higher.
People are still being urged not to leave dogs alone in cars on a warm day. The car can reach 47 degrees within an hour when it is 22 degrees outside. These unbearable temperatures can lead to death and heatstroke for the dog.
Despite warnings, there were 8,290 reports about dogs in hot cars last year (2018) across the UK which is a 5% increase from the previous.
SYMPTOMS OF HEATSTROKE IN ANIMALS:
- Slowing down.
- Looking dazed.
- Panting excessively.
If your pet experiences any of these symptoms, you are advised to speak to a vet as soon as possible.
Dogs and horses will still need regular exercise when it is hot, but if the weather is excessively hot then exercise should be avoided. Walk or ride them in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler.
When walking dogs keep in mind that pavements can get very hot in the warm weather. Remember that if it is too hot to touch with your hand, then it is too hot for a dog’s paws.
Animal owners have also been advised to check every day for flystrike - a painful and sometimes fatal condition caused by flies laying eggs on another animal.
If you are heading outdoors, don't be alarmed to see a snake in the wild. They will be most active in June and July, and most tend to shy away from people.
Owners of pets who are elderly, overweight or have ongoing health problems are advised that their animals are more likely to suffer from the heat.
If you see a dog in distress in a hot car, you are advised to dial 999.
The RSPCA also have a 24-hour cruelty line for advice on 0300 1234 999.
However, if the dog is in danger, dialling 999 should always be the first step.
For any signs of heatstroke, contact a vet immediately.