How to keep your pets safe during warm weather

The glorious summer sunshine is set to increase in many counties this week, here's how to keep your pets safe

As the heatwave is set to continue today and over the weekend, our pets can get dehydrated very quickly, so please ensure they have plenty of fresh, clean drinking water and access to shade from the summer sunshine.  We have put together some pet safety tips and advice for pet owners during hot weather.

Always have fresh water available for your pet; refresh and refill more often than on a normal day and leave extra if you are going out. You can also add ice cubes to your pet’s water to keep it cool and avoid using steel bowls as they will absorb the heat. Make sure they have access to shade, and keep them indoors in cooler rooms when the heat becomes too extreme.  It’s important to leave out fresh drinking water during the heatwave to help our wildlife too!

Please be mindful that pets can quickly become dehydrated and overheat. It is best to walk dogs early in the morning and late in the evening when the sun is less strong and temperatures are cooler. Before walking test, the asphalt or concrete surface you plan to walk your pet on with the back of your hand. Dogs have sensitive paw pads and can burn their feet. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s likely too hot for their feet!

If you have a rabbit or other small mammals in the garden, keep their living quarters in the shade. You could also cover the front of their enclosures with newspaper as they can heat up very quickly. All caged animals, even if they are indoors, should be kept out of direct sunlight. Keep an eye on aviaries or birdcages, which are near to a window.

Heatstroke can cause serious damage and even be fatal to pets. Know the warning signs:

  • Excessive panting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dry or pale gums
  • Weakness, stupor or collapse

To avoid overheating, try not to overexert your pet. Please keep in mind that older, overweight, animals with heart and lung conditions, and flat faced pets such as pugs or Persian cats are more susceptible to overheating. If you do notice the signs of overheating, it is important to act quickly:

  • Move your pet to a cooler area
  • Spray with cool (not cold) water
  • Give your pet small amounts of cool (not cold) water to drink
  • Contact your vet immediately

Never leave your animal alone in a parked vehicle. Parking in the shade and leaving the windows cracked is not effective enough to cool the inside of a car. Even if the temperature outside is 22°C, the inside of a car can reach 47°C. On a day that is 30°C or hotter, the inside of the car can reach fatal temperatures in under ten minutes. Dogs in particular are at risk because they cool themselves by panting. If the air becomes too hot, they are unable to regulate their body temperatures.

If you do witness an animal locked in a car on a hot day, the ISPCA recommends contacting your local Garda station or our National Animal Cruelty Helpine on 0818 515 515. Under the Animal Health and Welfare Act (AHWA) 2013, Authorised Officers can use reasonable force to enter a vehicle and rescue a distressed animal if necessary. Members of Garda Síochána or ISPCA Animal Welfare Inspectors are considered “Authorised Officers.” Members of the public forcing entry into somebody else’s property could leave themselves open to legal action.  In an emergency, it is best to contact the Gardaí immediately.

Household chemicals and common summer foods can be toxic to pets. If using sunscreen or insect repellent, please ensure the product is labelled as safe for use on pets. If you are unsure about certain products consult your vet. Alcoholic or caffeinated beverages, chocolate, coconut, grapes or raisins, onions, raw meat or excessively salty foods or foods containing the sweetener xylitol can be toxic or cause serious health issues for your pet. Keep them away from your pet during summer barbecues.

Noise and commotion during summer holidays can be distressing to some pets, and may drive them to unusual or extreme behaviour. The ISPCA recommend strongly that you have your pets microchipped as a permanent form of identification, and ensure that your details are always up to date. You should also have an ID tag, and together these forms of identification make it much more likely you will be reunited with your beloved pet in the event they escape. You can leave a TV or radio on to drown out some of the noise of fireworks displays or events. Pets should have somewhere to hide where they feel secure if frightened by loud noise, so a quiet room in the house will help with closed curtains and music or TV noise playing.

Licking objects, life a toy filled with peanut butter can help reduce stress, as can playing with your pet if they are up for a game. If not, do not try to force them to play.  If you pet is truly terrified of loud noise and you are concerned about them, you may want to consult with your vet in advance, and ask them about training or medication to help with your pets’ stress.

Please feel free to download our Dogs Die in Hot Cars and Pets in Hot Weather Tips social media graphics and share with hashtags #ispca,  #dogsdieinhotcars and #responsiblepetownership #StaySafe

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