As temperatures soar this summertime, it’s more crucial than ever to keep your cool and plan ahead to ensure your furry friends are happily hydrated and have plenty of shade to protect them from the sun’s scorching rays. Even though the weather can be prone to change here in the UK, it’s always best to be pet-prepared!
Our canine and feline companions can easily become dehydrated at this time of year, which can lead to a range of mild to severe medical conditions. It’s a good idea to be mindful of some of the common symptoms of dehydration in cats and dogs, such as loss of energy, dry and sticky gums, panting, sunken eyes and a reduced appetite or refusal to eat.
Whether you have your own pet or look after someone else’s, this Pet Hydration Awareness Month we’d like to share some top tips on the importance of keeping your pets well hydrated and happy – so keep a cool head and read on…
1. Made for the shade
Pale-coloured cats and dogs are prone to sunburn, so reduce the amount of time they spend out in the sun – especially during the peak hours of 11am to 3pm – and keep a close eye on their noses, ears and sparsely haired areas. You could also create a shaded area for them within your outdoor space, ensuring that there’s enough airflow to maintain a cool temperature, and pop a water bowl or two and frozen treats nearby to keep thirst at bay.
For the dog walkers among you, be mindful of the timings of your walkies. Opt for a route that has plenty of shady spots and remember to take a portable water source for the journey. Be sure that the ground isn’t too hot ‘under-paw’ before setting off, too – Dog’s Trust recommend doing the ‘5 Second Test’ where you hold your hand flat on the pavement for five seconds and if it's too hot for you, then it's too hot for your dog's paws.
2. Lap up the H2O
The importance of access to clean, fresh water is not to be underestimated – and your furry friends will be only too eager to quench their thirst as they wish, so make sure you have full, clean bowls in the most-frequented places in and around your home. One of the best ways to keep your pets hydrated and happy is to have cold water on tap, and you can almost take that literally, thanks to our pet fountains! Many cats and dogs prefer free-flowing water, meaning these are the perfect pit stop for thirsty pals of all shapes and sizes to get their filtered H2O fix.
There’s surely nothing better than lapping up cool water, which can help to bring down your pet’s body temperature. Why not add ice cubes to their water bowls or pet fountain for an extra chill? Depending on the quality of tap water in the area where you live, you might also consider a pet fountain as a way to filter out bacteria and harmful chemicals. And encourage them to avoid drinking from the sea and stagnant water sources, such as puddles and ponds. Doing so will make for happier tummies!
3. Tuck into thirst-quenchers
Besides providing your canine and feline friends with fresh, lappable water at all times, make sure they’re getting some hydration-friendly food too. Wet food has a high water content that can help keep your pets hydrated while being deliciously juicy to eat. Additionally, avoid giving treats that are high in sodium, as these can lead to parched pets.
Another wag-happy way to keep your pets hydrated during the heat is to offer them frozen treats. Many pet shops and supermarkets offer frozen fruit- or vegetable-based treats that can help keep your pets cool and quenched. You can even make your own frozen treats by freezing water with your pet’s favourite fruit or veggies. Older animals, especially cats, are particularly prone to dehydration, so this could be the kind of tasty treat they’ve been dreaming about.
4. Beat the heat
We’ll get straight to it for our final point: pets succumb to heatstroke rapidly, as they don’t sweat in the way humans do and can’t keep cool as easily. So this is a crucial reminder to avoid exercising your pet during the peak sun hours of the day and to never leave them alone in a parked vehicle, particularly on a hot day. ‘Not long’ is still too long.
Signs of heatstroke include collapsing, excessive panting and dribbling. If you’re at all concerned that your pet is suffering, move them to a cool location, wet their coat and get in touch with your vet without delay. Another idea for making sure your furry friend can roam around to cooler areas as they please is to invest in a cat flap or dog door.
In the heat of these summer months, it’s crucial to take extra care of your pets and monitor their water intake and temperature – animals are unique in so many ways, so please speak with your vet if personalised advice would be helpful. As pet parents, it’s our responsibility to keep our beloved companions safe, healthy and happy, and providing them with enough hydration through water and food is the first step towards achieving that goal.