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A beautiful, yellow-eyed cat receiving treatment. Doug Hall feeding a well-loved client.

Paws For Thought- Article 12

24th July 2019

"HOT topics"


With the heat wave upon us, we wanted to send out an article about how to deal with the hot weather! I'm sure all of you will have seen the adverts reminding us that “Dogs die in hot cars” but we thought we'd send out some more information about this, and what to do if you find a dog that is trapped in a car. Below you'll also find some other 'HOT topics' (excuse the pun...) to make you aware of other potential threats to your pets’ health when the weather is so warm.


1. “Dogs die in hot cars”


    It doesn't have to be the hottest day of the year for your dog to be at risk: even when it's 22 degrees outside, it can reach 47 degrees inside a car within one hour and that can be enough to put your pet at risk of permanent damage.

·     It is worth mentioning that when you come back to your car, the car itself may still be very warm, so please take time to cool the car down before entering it.

    Even parking in the shade with the windows open doesn't stop the car from heating up. We recommend leaving your dog at home if it's a really hot day- they’d rather be inside.

    If you see a dog trapped in a car, and you are unable to locate the owner, ring 999. You can always ring us for advice on 01483 538990, but unfortunately, we will be unable to get the dog out of the car, as we have no powers of entry to the vehicle. The police are the only people who can authorise this.


2. Cats feel the heat too


·         When it’s warm, you may see that your cat either tries to hide outside under the bushes or comes inside to escape the heat. If they’re inside- keep the curtains drawn, and ideally doors open to allow a cool breeze.

·         Make sure they always have access to cool water.

·         If your cat has white fur- we recommend using sun-cream to protect them. Ideally use a pet version, and the most susceptible areas are those with less hair- tips of the ears and nose.


3. Hot pavements


    Another issue we see in the summer is dogs that have been taken for walks on pavements that are scalding. This causes burns to the pads which is incredibly painful and can cause permanent scarring.

    We recommend that you test the pavements with the back of your hand before you take your dog out for a walk. If you can't hold your hand there for 7 seconds, don't walk your dog on it as they are likely to burn their pads.

    Be aware that artificial grass can pose a similar risk to your pet's paws so be careful if you’ve turfed your garden with anything artificial- they shouldn’t spend too long outside.


4. Heat stroke


    Be careful not to over-exercise your dog over the summer, particularly if you have a brachycephalic dog (a short-nosed breed such as a Pug or French bulldog) as they may over-heat and not be able to regulate their temperature correctly. This can result in heat-stroke, which may cause permanent damage if not treated quickly and aggressively.

    Avoid walking your dog between 12-3pm when the sun is high in the sky. Try and save those walks for the cooler evenings.

    Signs of heat stroke include excessive panting, weakness and even collapse.


5. Rabbits and guinea pigs


·         Although guinea pigs generally cope well with hot weather, rabbits can be slightly more sensitive to the heat. For both species- make sure their hutches are not in direct sunlight, and they should always have access to shaded areas when outside.

·         They should always have access to fresh, cold water.

·         With the risk of flystrike- make sure that their bottoms are clean so that flies are not attracted to them. If you notice any signs of diarrhoea/urine soiling or are worried about the possibility of them having flystrike, please ring us on 01483 538990.


How to keep your pets cool


·         Keep them inside

·         Make sure they are given constant access to cold water (and ice cubes)

·         Use damp towels (particularly for dogs) and/or access to cool tiled floors as this will help to keep them cool when it is extremely hot.


If you are concerned that your pet may be suffering with the hot weather, or you require any further information after reading this article, please do not hesitate to ring us at The Cape Veterinary Clinic on 01483 538990.


Catherine Hannah BVSc MRCVS

References: VetsNow