How to keep pets cool in scorching summer temperatures

Animal experts provide tips to keep animals cool and tell tale signs to look out for if your pet is too hot.

Animal experts provide tips to keep animals cool and tell tale signs to look out for if your pet is too hot. - Credit: Lora Steggles / Kevin Murphy

The Fine City is kicking back in shorts and t-shirts this afternoon as the heat sets in.

And while the sun may be a welcome appearance for humans, their four-legged friends may be finding the temperatures too much to bear.

Lora Steggles, founder of Angelica's Rainbow Sanctuary in Norwich, said the cage was "stolen from right under our noses".

Lora Steggles, founder of Angelica's Rainbow Sanctuary in Norwich, said the cage was "stolen from right under our noses". - Credit: Lora Steggles

Lora Steggles, founder of Angelica's Rainbow Sanctuary in Hellesdon Road, had some advice for pet owners.

She said: "Do not encourage exercise in hot weather.

"Many dogs who have overheated have been doing exercise in the lead up to this.

"Animals like rabbits and guinea pigs often get overlooked during the hot weather.

"Chop some vegetables up, mix them with water and then freeze.

Lora Steggles' rescue cat, Dexter, cooling himself down.

Lora Steggles' rescue cat, Dexter, cooling himself down. - Credit: Lora Steggles

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"Never leave your animal in an enclosed, unventilated area such as a car or in an enclosure that is in direct sunlight.

"If a rabbit it in a outdoor run, for example, as the sun moves the shaded area in the enclosure will also move too.

"So you must check their enclosure regularly to ensure they have sufficient shade."

"There are cooling mats available but a flat piece of stone like marble is just as good and safe to use - they can lay on this and it cools an animal's body," she added.

Kevin Murphy, founder of Norfolk Wildlife Rescue.

Kevin Murphy, founder of Norfolk Wildlife Rescue. - Credit: Archant

Kevin Murphy, founder of Norfolk Wildlife Rescue, added: "There are some easy ones like keeping an animal in the shade when out.

"This can be done using an umbrella or white sheet to reflect the sunlight.

"Make sure to provide fresh clean water - using multiple bowls or bottles if needed.

"Horses have their own thermoregulation so generally keep themselves cool but hosing down with water helps. 

Kevin Murphy

Kevin Murphy, who runs the 24 hour service Norfolk Wildlife Rescue, looked after Willow until she was able to be returned to her owner - Credit: Kevin Murphy

"If you have caged birds make sure you install a large bowl to bathe in or use a plant mister spray to gently water them and keep them cool. 

"With aviary birds a large wet white sheet over the top of the cafe will keep the sun off and cool the air. 

"For poultry put a box of wet sand in the cages. This will keep the birds cool."

Signs an animal is overheating

Lora explained: "Animals that pant, such as dogs and sheep, have blood that rushes to the surfaces of the tongue, gums and membranes when their temperature rises.

"This helps transfer excess heat.

"This leads to frantic panting, extreme salivation, bright red membranes and laboured breathing, which are all clear warning signs that your animal is overheating.

"When a dog's temperature reaches 41 degrees it becomes unable to cool itself down, which adds to the importance of keeping any pet cool."

The signs that smaller pets, such as cats and rabbits, are overheating are: 

  • Warm ears and feet
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Open-mouth breathing
  • Not eating
  • Dull/unresponsive
  • Restless
  • Uncoordinated
  • Blue-tinged mouth and nose
  • Blood-tinged fluid from the nose or mouth
  • Collapse
  • Seizures"

Kevin Murphy added: "Dogs may vomit if they are too hot.

"Birds which extend their wings out can be a sign of heat stroke.

"Should you be concerned I would recommend seeking veterinary advice."