Doggy-lollies, frozen cat blankets and a lot of creativity can get pets through a heatwave – and help avoid big vet bills during soaring temperatures.
Pet owners don’t always recognise the symptoms of heatstroke in their cats and dogs, because while humans can do something about the weather, animals don’t always make their discomfort known until it’s too late.
“If a pet suddenly acts distressed – whether vocally or with unusually subdued behaviour, then our vets will tell you it’s serious,” said Mark Effenberg, CEO of Hampshire-based Healthy Pets Insurance , the UK’s biggest independent cat and dog insurer.
“To avoid heat distress and expensive vet visits, there’s a degree of doing the opposite of what you’ve always believed, a lot of testing of resolve, and enormous creativity to be employed in keeping your pet cool, comfortable – and even alive – in a heatwave.
“We’ve always been told cats don’t like getting wet, but water plays a great part in their heatwave well-being: even just wetting your fingers and stroking your cat’s ears will help cooling, and picking them up them putting them down on a damp towel is immensely effective – cats can only cool themselves through their ears and paws.
“Dogs are a different matter: stick a sprinkler on, and they’ll go play in the water. Douse them using a wet sponge, and they’ll love it.
Cool cat tips:
1. Put your cat’s blanket or favourite sleeping material in the freezer just long enough to deep chill but not stiffen it.
2. If they have toys they play with or sleep on, then do the same.
3. Put a wet blanket on the floor either side of their cat flap or the door they use to come and go.
4. Make sure their drinking water is chilled.
5. Some cats will eat slightly chilled pouch food – it all helps.
6. Wet your hands and dampen their ears, stroke them with wet hands, put them down on a damp blanket paws first.
7. Water the lawn in the areas you know they use – so their paws get wet.
8. Open windows and close curtains to create shade and draught.
Hot dog chillers.
1. Get the garden sprinkler going, and create shade near it. Your dog may play in the water and then rest in the shade. But water in the air creates a cooling effect nearby as well. Just walking in water will help cool a dog.
2. Don’t walk your dog if he’s likely to take off at a run. Once he’s hot it’s very difficult to cool him off. If you do, and he does, try to get him into a safe pond or stream.
3. Put water everywhere – bowls and buckets in all the places he goes at home, even leave a hosepipe running in the garden to create a mini flood to play in and drink from.
4. Put out a wet or chilled blanket.
5. Make doggy-lollies: freeze dog biscuits in water in either lolly or ice-cube form. They absolute love them.
6. A good old-fashioned fan can help, but let the dog go to the room where the air is being circulated of his own accord.
7. Open up what are otherwise no-go areas if they have a stone or concrete floor. Garages, basements and outhouses are often cooler.
8. Never leave a dog in a car even if all the windows are open all the way and there’s a breeze going through: it still heats up like a greenhouse.