Can my pet sweat? A guide to keeping your pet safe in the heat

If it’s hot and sunny where you are today, remember, as the temperatures rise, we need to take extra care to keep our pets cool and safe. A veterinary emergency caused by the heat can come about faster than you might imagine, so considering their needs and paying close attention is vital.

Just like us, dogs, cats and rabbits can get sunburnt and suffer from heatstroke. But unlike us, the only way they can cool themselves down is by panting or sweating through their paws.

So, one of the most important things you can do is to make sure your pets have somewhere shady to retreat to, as well as plenty of cool water to drink. Read on for some more tips to help during the warm weather:

Cool canines

  1. Walk your dog in the early morning and late evening when it is cooler to prevent overheating or dehydration in the heat of the day.
  2. Be aware that paving, pavements and sand can be painful for your dog to walk on. If it feels hot to you then it will also feel too hot for your dog’s pads.
  3. If you have to go out in the car, it is essential that you cool it down BEFORE you leave. Some dogs, especially those with ‘flat’ faces, can dangerously overheat before you have even left the driveway
  4. Never leave your dog in a vehicle on a warm or sunny day. Opening car windows is not enough as the temperature inside can very quickly rise to dangerous levels.
  5. If you think your dog is overheating (panting, drooling, lethargic), cool them down as soon as possible. Use cool rather than cold water – let them paddle in it or place cool damp towels over them. Overheating can quickly become a veterinary emergency, so if there’s no improvement or you are at all concerned, contact a vet straight away.

Chilled cats

  1. Make sure your cat has easy access to fresh cool water both inside and outside. If you think your cat is not drinking enough, you could consider introducing a pet water fountain – cats are often more inclined to drink from running water. You can also try letting your cat play with ice cubes as well as offering some frozen treats.
  2. Cats with white hair and pink noses are more at risk from sunburn than darker cats. Ear tips are at particular risk of developing skin cancer so apply pet friendly sunscreen throughout the summer months.
  3. Keep on top of grooming as excess fur on your cat will trap heat and make your cat feel even hotter. A daily brush will help to keep your cat a little cooler.

Relaxed rabbits

  1. It’s a really good idea to keep your rabbits’ hutch and run as much in the shade as possible.
  2. On particularly warm days, wetting bunny ears with a fine mist of cool (not cold) water, using fans or laying damp towels over the run are all ways to help keep your rabbits comfortable.
  3. Frozen bottles of water around the hutch and run are great for rabbits to lean against if they’re feeling too hot.
  4. Keep your rabbits and their enclosure as clean as possible. Fly strike, when fly eggs laid on a rabbit’s fur hatch into maggots and burrow under the skin, is more likely during hot weather and it takes just one fly to cause all sorts of misery for your bunny.

Be aware of your pets additional needs in warmer weather and watch them closely. A healthy pet can rapidly become seriously ill due to heat, so by following these simple steps you can enjoy the summer safely together.

If you have any concerns that your pet has overheated or is suffering from the heat, do not hesitate to call your vet for urgent advice.