Protecting your pets in a heatwave

We’re set for a heatwave this weekend, with temperatures set to soar to over 37 degrees in some parts of the country.

We know that the heat can be uncomfortable for us, let alone our pets! Although the glorious sunshine is a great opportunity to spend more time outside, it’s important to consider the safest ways to do so for our four-legged friends.

As just like us, they can experience dehydration and even heat stroke too. According to Bought By Many the average cost of a claim for heat stroke this year is a staggering £895.

Sarah James, Vet Nurse and Bought By Many’s Technical Claims Manager offers her top tips on protecting your pet during a heatwave

How do you know if it’s too hot to walk your dog, and what exercise can you do instead?

Not all owners know it, but dogs’ main sweat glands are located on their paw pads and so it’s important to test the temperature of the pavement to see if their paws can withstand the heat. This can simply be done by placing the back of your hand on the pavement for approximately seven seconds. If you find it too hot, chances are your dog will too and so to be safe, the best time to take them out for a walk is either very early or late in the day to avoid peak temperatures. Try walking on the grass too if possible, however, extra care needs to be taken with artificial grass as it heats up in the sun and can become much hotter than natural grass. It also may be helpful to consider alternative methods of exercise such as splashing in a (paddling) pool.

Top tips on how to adapt your pet’s routine on the hotter days

Making more time for a drink: It’s important to encourage your pet to drink more water during hotter weather to stop them becoming dehydrated. An easy way to cool them down is by putting ice cubes in their water bowl and guiding them to their water bowl throughout their day. Be sure to top it up regularly. Giving ice cubes on their own to your pet that is already too warm can upset their body’s cooling system (as it is already working at maximum capacity). The best thing to do here is give them tepid water and only give cool water for pets that are of a normal temperature.

Adapting their environment: Despite the heat, it is still a good idea for your pet to get outside in the garden for some fresh air, however, make sure they are shaded as pets get sunburned too!

Remember, some human sunscreens can be harmful to pets, so utilising shade via trees is best as they allow a nice amount of airflow. If there’s no garden shaded space available, you can create some by putting a double duvet cover over a rotary washing line. Alternatively, let your pet lie on floor tiles with the windows open to keep them cool.

Keep toys stored away: Try not to let your dog play with toys on hot days so they don’t accidentally over-exercise. While games such as fetch can be a lot of fun, too much activity can increase the chance of heatstroke. It’s best to err on the side of caution when the mercury rises. You can, however, encourage your pet to engage in low energy/mental stimulating games. For example, hiding some food in the bottom of a muffin tray and covering it with a tennis ball for your dog to nudge the covering out the way is one of my favourites.