Being safe in the sun

Summer - The days are longer, the smell of barbecue's in the air and trips to the beach; BLISS! But is it bliss for our pets? Here's a few tips on keeping your pets safe this summer. 

Dogs and Cats.

The best prevention is keeping your pets indoors when the sun is at it's hottest, between 11am and 3pm. If you're out in the garden, make sure adequate shade and fresh water are provided at all times and hard surface areas are covered or washed down with cold water throughout the day. 

Lighter coloured dogs and cats are more vulnerable to sunburn; particularly their ears, noses and sparsely haired areas. Just like us, sun damage can lead to skin cancer, which may require surgery or even amputation in severe cases. Alternatively, you can apply non-toxic, waterproof human sun cream or a product specifically for pets. Seek medical advice promptly if your pets skin looks sore, crusty or scaly.

Fresh water should be available at ALL TIMES and don't forget that your dog needs fresh water if you plan a trip to the beach - sea water can make dogs ill. Older animals are vulnerable to dehydration but it's vital to make sure ALL animals are drinking plenty in the heat. 

Dogs in cars.

Dogs succumb to heatstroke quickly. They cannot sweat the same way humans do and cannot keep cool as easily as we can. Never leave your dog in hot car; even a moment is too long!

If you see a dog in distress inside a car, the official advice is to call 999 immediately and ask for the police. It is an emergency and the police can advise you what to do based on the situation. Depending on the severity, the police may attend and break into the vehicle, or advise you to do this. 

If no police assistance is available, follow the call operators advice, tell them what you intend on doing and take video/photographic evidence (even a photo of the temperature outside). Take the names and numbers of any witnesses. Breaking into the vehicle without proper justification can be classed as criminal damage and you may need to defend your actions in a court. 

Heatstroke can be fatal within minutes. Never leave your pet in a hot car - even with the windows open and avoid exercising your pets in the heat of the day. Signs of heatstroke include: Collapse, excessive panting and dribbling. If you suspect your pet has heatstroke, contact a veterinarian and remove your pet to a cool place immediately. You can wet their coats but avoid overcooling, especially small pets.

Rabbits and other small animals.

Fly strike is a nasty condition that occurs when flies lay eggs on or near rabbits. The eggs hatch into maggots and then feed on the rabbit. This causes pain, severe shock and often death. It is vital that you are checking your rabbits (indoor and outdoor) at least twice a day to make sure that they themselves and their hutches are clean. Keep hutches clean, dry and free from anything that may attract flies. Disinfect them at least once a week. If you find maggots near or on your rabbit, immediately call your vet.

Position hutches and runs in the shade and keep them off the ground to improve ventilation. Water should be available at all times and topped up during the day. 

You can mist your rabbit with cool water to help them maintain a comfortable temperature and /or give them a piece of celery or apple to eat for added moisture. Brushing out excess fur will also help keep your pet cool. If you have a longhaired rabbit, you may consider having the coat cropped by a professional groomer. 

Remember - it's COOL to be SAFE!