On a Hot day

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Summer pet care

PDSA, the UK's leading veterinary charity offer some handy summer tips to keep your animals safe in hot summer days.

Keeping pets cool in hot weather

With the country basking in tropical temperatures, PDSA urges pet owners not to forget about our furry friends as the mercury is rising.

PDSA Senior Vet, Elaine Pendlebury, said: "Pet owners need to be aware of the harm that hot weather can cause to pets. Their smaller body size makes them particularly susceptible to heatstroke and can't tell us when they're too hot in their fur coats. So it's up to owners to spot the signs and ensure they remain happy and healthy in the heat."

Lola in the garden

To help pets avoid the summertime blues, PDSA has compiled some top tips for owners:

  • Never leave pets in cars, not even for just a few minutes with windows open. You may be delayed and temperatures can soar dangerously high in minutes, causing potentially fatal heatstroke.
  • Don't let pets sit out in strong sun, or leave hutches, runs or cages in direct sunlight. Make sure there is always access to shade.
  • Never put your bird cage close to the window or in direct sunlight - the temperature can quickly soar
  • Make sure pets have access to plenty of clean, fresh water at all times and change water regularly throughout the day.
  • Know the signs of heatstroke - excessive panting, extreme salivation, distress and collapse. If this happens, gradually cool your pet's body temperature with cool (not cold) water, such as wrapping in water soaked towels that you change frequently, and call your vet for further advice.
  • If you have a long-haired pet, get their fur trimmed to prevent them from over-heating.
  • Walk dogs in the morning or evening - before 8am and after 5pm is best - not only will this prevent them overheating in the midday sun, but hot road surfaces, pavements and sand can burn paws. 
  • Rabbits are prone to maggot infestations (known as flystrike) in the summer. Flies are attracted to dirty fur and lay their eggs, which hatch in to maggots. To prevent this life-threatening condition, check a rabbit's bottom at least twice daily for dirtiness and maggots. If you spot any maggots call your vet as soon as you can.. If their bottom is dirty, clean it gently with a damp cloth. 
  • Food can go off very quickly in the heat, so discard any leftovers to avoid flies
  • Put a nearly full plastic bottle of water into your freezer and then wrap it in a towel. Lie the bottle down by the side of your small furry pet's cage, next to the sleeping area. It's not a good idea to put the bottle in the cage as it can cause leaks and make the pet too cold. Put two in the freezer so you'll always have one available. 
  • Take extra care if transporting pets in hot weather - keep windows open when the car is moving, but never let a dog put their head out of the car window. Travel during the coolest times of the day and never leave them in a parked car. 
  • Fishponds and aquaria can get very hot in the summer - check regularly and make sure the pond has a shaded area

With a little care and attention, we can ensure our pets have fun and don't suffer in the sunshine. Read more summer safety tips

Garden safety

We all love to spend time in the garden in the summer months, and our pets are no exception. However, vet charity PDSA is urging owners to help our curious companions stay safe in great outdoors by taking a few simple precautions.

Elaine Pendlebury, PDSA Senior Vet, says: "Garden treatments and some of our most common plants and flowers can actually pose a serious poisoning risk to cats, dogs and other pets. But a little extra vigilance will ensure that any hazards are kept well out of reach of prying paws."

PDSA recommends that all green-fingered pet owners carry out a 'garden audit' to help eliminate some of these risks:

  • Known your onions - certain plants such as daffodils, lilies, laburnum, cherry laurel, castor oil bush and yew are highly toxic to pets and can even be fatal, so make sure you know the dangers. Members of the onion family will also give pets a poorly tummy if eaten. It's best to keep these plants out of areas where pets have free access, and check before planting anything new.
  • Chemical control - Many pesticides and herbicides can be harmful to pets and other animals, including slug pellets, weedkillers and bug sprays. Try safer alternatives, such as pet-friendly slug pellets if possible. If you need to use chemicals then always read and follow the instructions, and keep pets away from treated areas for the recommended period. Store any chemicals securely and out of reach.
  • Physical attraction - broken bottles and sharp stones are obvious hazards, but seemingly harmless objects left lying around can also cause injuries. Cats are always curious and will tend to investigate anything that smells interesting (such as bins with food remains in), whereas dogs are liable to swallow anything that captures their attention! Check regularly for potential hazards and remove these.
  • Cocoa shell mulches - these contain high levels of theobromine, a chemical that is highly toxic to pets. Just a few mouthfuls of mulch could kill a Cocker Spaniel! Avoid these where possible, or keep pets away from areas where these are used.

More information on keeping pets safe and sound in the garden this summer.

PDSA is the UK's leading veterinary charity, providing veterinary care for the sick and injured pets of eligible people in need, as well as promoting responsible pet ownership.

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