The heat is on!
It’s hot out there folks! If we as humans are feeling the heat (I have a fan on full blast at this very moment), then we need to remember that our furry friends are feeling it even more than us!
All animals will feel the heat, but I will just talk about dogs and rabbits/guinea pigs in this post. Cats can definitely be affected, but will generally be able to find a cool spot and do what cats do best and have a siesta!
Why are dogs and rabbits/guinea pigs especially at risk?
Both dogs and rabbits/guinea pigs are not able to sweat effectively. This means that they are not able to release heat as efficiently as human beings.
Dogs can only sweat through their paws...and it’s not a very efficient process. They will also pant, which helps to cool them (but only a little).
Many dogs love to exercise and may not always know when enough is enough. They can easily overheat and we as owners need to be in control of how much exercise they are doing and when they are doing it.
Long-coated dogs and dogs that are brachycephalic (having short snouts or ‘flat-faced) are especially at risk. Thick and long fur makes it even harder to cool down. ‘Flat-faced’ dogs may find it harder to take in air and this is heightened when it is hot. They are also not very efficient at panting and makes it even more difficult for them to cool down compared to their ‘long-nosed’ friends.
As with dogs, rabbits don’t really sweat. They do lose some heat through their ears, but it wouldn’t be enough to prevent them getting heat stroke if exposed to high temperatures.
They are also often kept in hutches or cages and if this was exposed to direct sunlight, they may not be able to move away as freely as a cat or a dog might.
NEVER leave your dog in a parked car or a closed conservatory. The temperature and humidity can rise rapidly with the onset of heat stroke occurring within 10 minutes.
Exercise dogs in the cooler parts of the day (early morning or later in the evening).
Take water with you on your walk and offer it to your dog regularly.
Keep to shaded areas.
Keep off hot pavements to prevent paw pads from being burnt. If your hand burns when you touch the pavement for a few seconds, then it is too hot for your dog to walk on it.
If your dog has a long coat and could do with a groom to remove some excess fur, then this is a good time to get it done.
Ensure water is always available.
Cool mats or ice packs wrapped in a towel can be very useful to help dogs stay cool.
Doggy pools are also fun for dogs that like water and would like a cool down.
Remember to be water safe and to keep an eye on your dog when swimming.
Ice blocks that have been crushed and placed in water can also help dogs keep cool and can provide a fun game for them. Be careful as whole ice blocks can be a choking hazard.
Rabbits and guinea pigs:
Move the hutch to a shady spot
Ensure that water is always available
Cool mats can be used (bought from pet shop) and placed in hutches for rabbits to lie on if they want to. Don’t force them to lie on it; provide space so that they can move away from the cool area if desired. One can also freeze water bottles, wrap in a towel to be similarly utilised.
A fan can also be used. Ensure that cables are out of reach (to prevent nibbling) and don’t face the fan directly on your rabbit or guinea pig, so that they can move away if they get too cool.
Signs and symptoms:
Lethargic and losing balance
Bright red gums
Trying to pant
Ears can be red and feel hot to the touch
What to do?
If your dog starts to show these signs, you should stop any exercise that they might be doing and find a shady spot immediately. Offer them some water. If the signs are serious you should call your veterinarian straight away. It would be best to get them examined at the vet as these signs can rapidly turn into an emergency situation.
If the vet is far or you aren’t able to get them there quickly, then spraying them with COOL water gently is your first option. COOL and not freezing water is VERY IMPORTANT as their body will go into more shock if the temperature is suddenly and rapidly changed.
At the vet, they will attempt to cool them down appropriately and may administer oxygen if they are battling to breathe. An intravenous drip maybe suggested to replace any fluids and nutrients your dog may have lost.
Remove your rabbit/guinea pig from their hutch and move them to a cooler, shady area immediately.
A fan can be used to apply a light breeze to your pet. Don’t allow the fan to blow directly on the rabbit as this may stress them and cause them to get cold too quickly.
DO NOT try and put your rabbit/guinea pig into cold water. They generally don’t like water and this can cause them to go into shock.
A wet, cool towel can be used to wipe them down to bring down their temperature at an appropriate pace, without causing them to go into further distress.
As with dogs, it would be advisable to have your rabbit/guinea pig examined by a vet if their symptoms don’t change and you require further assistance. If their symptoms are severe when you discover them, then try put a cool towel on them and get them to a vet immediately.
Hope that helps! Stay safe!
Virtual hugs to all my furry friends out there!