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‘Warm spell on the way’ poses risk to pets if owners aren’t prepared

The RSPCA is encouraging owners to prepare for their pets as the UK looks forward to a spell of warm weather this week.

The charity’s advice comes as the Met Office announces ‘a warm spell is on the way,’ predicting temperatures into the mid 20s for much of the southern half of the UK from today (weds).

Temperatures in the north are expected to rise from Thursday with the warmth likely to peak on Friday and Saturday as the mercury rises into the high 20s in some parts of the UK. Forecasters also warn that thunderstorms may accompany the heat.

From April to July last year, traffic to the RSPCA’s website hot weather advice pages soared as temperatures rose and the summer months arrived.

Esme Wheeler, dog welfare specialist at the RSPCA said: “We’ve had a period of cooler weather recently, so this upcoming ‘return’ to summer is naturally going to get people excited to be out and about and making the most of it, but it’s really important we don’t forget the impact of any warm weather on our pets. It may be a short burst of heat, but our pets still need us to treat it with extra caution and put everything we can in place to keep them safe.

“Hot weather, even in short bouts, poses a huge risk to animal welfare, with everything from sunburn to heat stroke, dehydration and burned paws from hot pavements. If owners aren’t prepared during this time, it could be an absolute disaster for pet welfare.

“If every pet owner can arm themselves with the knowledge to detect the early signs of heatstroke, as well as get into the habit of appropriately leaving their dogs at home in a cool, well-ventilated space at the first sign of hot weather, we really believe many animals’ lives will be saved.

“Our message is simple – if in doubt, don’t go out. It can be really tempting when the weather is suddenly really hot again, but too many times we have seen people out running with their dogs, cycling with their dogs running alongside, or throwing balls for their dogs during hot weather, with beloved pets often left panting heavily and at serious risk of overheating.”

The RSPCA weather advice comes as the charity runs its Cancel Out Cruelty summer fund-raising campaign calling on the public to support its rescue work at a time when cruelty peaks. The charity receives around 90,000 calls to its cruelty line every month but in July and August calls rise to 134,000 a month -which is three every minute.

The animal welfare charity  – and a coalition of other concerned organisations – launched a new movement urging people to exercise their dogs early in the morning, or in the evening, when temperatures are cooler – encouraging them to share photos to help spread the message of responsible dog walking in the heat.

Esme added: “All breeds and types of dog are at risk but those with underlying health conditions, especially ones affecting their breathing, and older or elderly dogs can overheat more easily, as well as overweight dogs, dogs with thick or double coats, and some large and flat-faced breeds.

“We would like to see it become the norm that dog owners always err on the side of caution when it comes to hot weather, and instead, walk their pets in the early morning or late dusk when temperatures are cooler.

“We’re encouraging dog owners to get together with others in their local community to join up for ‘dogs at dawn, dogs at dusk’ walks, to spread awareness of the importance of walking dogs in cooler temperatures.

They can post their #DogsAtDawn and #DogsAtDusk selfies to social media and tag @RSPCA_Official.

Tips for other pets include:

Never leave animals in cars, conservatories, outbuildings or caravans on a warm day, even if it’s just for a short while. When it’s 22°C outside, temperatures can quickly rise to 47°C (117°F) in these environments, which can be deadly.

Although cats will often seek shade and drink more water to keep themselves safe in hot weather check sheds, greenhouses and summerhouses before closing them up. Cats can find their way into warm areas if they’re looking for a cosy spot, but could get too hot or dehydrated if they get trapped.

In terms of smaller pets and rodents ensure pets and cages, runs or hutches out of direct sunlight.

Make sure you give your pets extra water during warmer weather, as they’ll drink more.

Provide plenty of shade in their enclosures – remember, the sun moves across during the day so areas that were shaded in the morning could be in full sun in the afternoon.

Top tips to keep your pets safe are also:

  • Using a pet-safe sun cream on exposed parts of your pet’s skin

  • Making sure they have shade

  • Giving them constant access to fresh water

  • Putting ice cubes in their water bowl

  • Giving them damp towels to lie on

It’s also worth checking pets regularly for flystrike.

For advice on other pets and animals you can find out more here:

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‘Warm spell on the way’ poses risk to pets if owners aren’t prepared

a dog in a hot car on a warm day
Photo: RSPCA