We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Alamy Stock Photo
animal safety

Here's how to keep your pets safe and cool during the hot weather

Met Éireann has issued a nationwide Status Yellow high temperature warning from tomorrow.

IRELAND IS BRACED for a week of exceptionally warm weather, with temperatures set to reach the high twenties in most parts of the country.

Met Éireann has issued a nationwide Status Yellow high temperature warning from tomorrow until Tuesday, with some places set to experience highs of up to 32 degrees.

With this in mind, pet owners are being urged to keep their pets cool and hydrated over the coming days. 

Head of education at the Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) Gillian Bird told The Journal that the charity is advising people not to take their pets with them on car journeys if they’re heading out to stay in the sun.

Pets should never be left alone in a parked car, or be kept in a car for a prolonged period of time in hot weather. “It gets so hot in cars. It is really, really hot,” Bird said. 

According to the Irish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA), if the temperature outside is 22 degrees, the temperature inside a car can reach 47 degrees. It can reach fatal temperatures in under ten minutes if it’s 30 degrees or hotter outside.

As pets pant to lower their body temperature, if the air becomes too hot inside a car and they are recycling very hot air, panting won’t help them cool down.

“Don’t bring your pet with you is what we’re saying to people, unless you are sure that the journey is going to be reasonably short, you’re going to be able to keep your pet nice and cool in the car and that your destination allows you to bring dogs,” Bird said.

At home, owners should ensure that pets have access to shade and plenty of fresh, cool water both indoors and outdoors throughout the day. The water should be refilled often, and steel bowls should be avoided as they will absorb the heat.

Owners can also invest in a paddling pool or a cooling mat to keep their pet’s temperature down.

Those with dogs should avoid walking them in the afternoon, when the temperature is at its hottest, and opt for early morning or evening walks instead, ensuring that they always have fresh, cool water with them.

People should also check the ground before taking dogs for a walk or letting a pet outside, as it can burn their paws if it gets very hot.

summer safety tips.jpg ISPCA ISPCA

“Tarmac, concrete and sand can get extremely hot. If you wouldn’t walk in your bare feet or for any length of time in your bare feet, it’s going to burn your dog’s feet,” Bird said.

“Dogs sweat through their feet. One of the ways they regulate their temperature is through their feet, and if the ground is really, really hot, even if they’re not going to burn themselves, it will increase the chances of them getting heatstroke because they can’t cool down.”

As pets can get sunburned, especially dogs with thin coats and white hair, owners can apply sunscreen to the tips of their ears and the bridge of their nose if necessary. Bird said that this should only be done after checking with a vet, who can advise on a suitable sunscreen that will not be harmful for pets.

Exercising older, overweight dogs when it’s very hot outside should be avoided. This also goes for brachycephalic, or snub-nosed dogs, such as Bulldogs, Pugs, Boston terriers and Shih Tzus, Bird said.

“We had two cases this week already of these dogs that nearly died of heat exhaustion and they were out early in the morning going for a short ten-minute walk,” she said.

“Their noses are very short, they have difficulty when it comes to cooling down because of the panting and the shortness of breathing, so you do need to be very careful with those.

If you are going to bring them for a walk, make sure it’s really early in the morning or it’s late at night and only a short walk with plenty of fresh water. If the temperatures do go as high as they are meant to, our best advice to anybody who has got a smaller, shorter-nose dog is to keep them cool in the garden or in the house. Don’t look at exercising them at all.

Bird said that cats will usually look after themselves, but it’s best to keep them indoors as much as possible. If outside, make sure they have access to shade, cool water and that they don’t get locked in sheds or greenhouses.

Hutches for smaller pets like rabbits or guinea pigs should be kept in the shade in the house and in the garden, and they should have plenty of water.

“Make sure there isn’t any part of the day where your rabbit is going to be exposed to the sun during the day or if they are, they can get away from it. If you think about the heat that could actually build up in a wooden hutch, and your rabbit had no way of escaping, it’s basically an oven for them,” she said.

People who don’t have pets can also leave bowls of fresh, cool water outside for passing dogs or cats, as well as for birds and other wildlife.

“It’s always a nice thing to put out saucers or shallow bowls of fresh water for the birds as well. We have to remember the wildlife as well at this time of year,” Bird added.

Heat stroke risk

This week, the ISPCA and the Irish Blue Cross have both warned that heat stroke can be fatal for pets.

Some of the signs that a dog or a cat is suffering heat stroke include a temperature, weakness or lethargy, restlessness, not eating their food, excessive panting or heavy breathing, and drooling.

Dry gums or a change in gum colour from pink to dark red, pale, purple or blue is another indicator. They may also collapse or vomit in severe cases.

Anyone who suspects that their pet may be suffering from heat stroke should contact their vet immediately and keep them in the shade with small amounts of cool water while they contact a vet.

Bird recommends that people double check what the emergency number for their vet is ahead of the hot weather.

“It’s always a good plan to have the emergency number anyway, but especially in this weather, and if you are going away for the weekend or you’re going to a holiday home, maybe contact a local vet there and say to them: ‘Listen, if I needed to use the services, what number could I ring?’”.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel