Bank holiday heatwave: How to keep your pets safe this weekend

UK weather chart shows spike in temperatures in May

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The Early Bank Holiday weekend is set to be sunshine and blue skies all around, and it’s also going to be very hot. The weather is pretty cool at the moment in the UK, but England and Wales are predicted to see temperatures as high as 32C over the weekend. We can all slap on some sunscreen and enjoy the heat, but our pets don’t have that privilege. Express.co.uk chatted to Sarah James, Vet Nurse and Bought By Many’s Technical Claims Manager to find out how we can all protect our pets during the heatwave.

Heatstroke isn’t pleasant in humans and it’s no different for our dogs and cats.

The symptoms of heat stroke include panting heavily, drooling excessively, drowsiness, incoordination, and vomiting or collapsing, and it can be very dangerous.

Thankfully, heatstroke – and the potential £619 vet bill – is avoidable.

The main problem with dogs when it is hot is their paws, because the hot floor makes it impossible to walk them.

Sarah said: “Dogs’ main sweat glands are located on their paw pads. It’s important to test the temperature of the pavement to see if their paws can withstand the heat.

“Place the back of your hand on the pavement for approximately seven seconds. If you find it too hot, chances are your dog will too.”

Dogs need to be walked for their physical and mental health, so your dog should ideally still be walked either very early or very late in the day.

Sarah said this will help you to avoid peak temperatures and you can try walking on grass (not artificial grass) to keep their paws nice and cool.

Most cats luckily don’t need to be walked, but a bit of sun won’t stop them from going outdoors.

Unfortunately, cats can also suffer from heatstroke because they can’t sweat like humans to lower their body temperature.

Sarah said: “Cats love to nap in sunny spots, but it’s important to have shade and cooler areas available.

“Try to avoid keeping doors closed in the house to allow cats to find a more comfortable spot and avoid them getting shut in a warm room.”

You should also keep their water bowl topped up with fresh cool water, but Sarah pointed out that it’s important to “keep some distance between food and water bowl as cats don’t usually drink near to where they eat.”

If your cat eats wet food, you’ll need to practise giving them smaller portions throughout the day because you don’t want the food to attract flies!

Whether you’ve got a cat, dog or any other pet, water is the key to keeping your pet safe in the heatwave.

Sarah said: “Encourage your pet to drink more water during hotter weather to stop them from becoming dehydrated.

“An easy way to cool them down is by putting ice cubes in their water bowl, and guiding them to their water bowl throughout their day. Be sure to top it up regularly.

“If your pet is already overheating, ice cubes can upset their body’s cooling system (as it is already working at maximum capacity).”

Make sure your pet has a shady spot to rest under outside, because pets can get sunburnt as well as heatstroke!

Sarah explained: “Remember, some human sunscreens can be harmful to pets, so utilising shade via trees is best as they allow a nice amount of airflow.

“If there’s no garden shaded space available, you can get creative and put a duvet over a rotary washing line or hang between chairs.”

Your pets will probably want to rest and take it easy, so don’t force them to play with their toys.

In fact, Sarah said: “While games such as fetch can be a lot of fun, too much activity can increase the chance of heatstroke.

“Instead, you could try and encourage your pet to engage in low energy/mental stimulating games.

“One of my favourites is hiding some food in the bottom of a muffin tray and covering it with a tennis ball for your dog to nudge the covering out the way.”

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