WITH temperatures across the county soaring the ISPCA has issued advice for pet owners on how to keep their pets safe during the heatwave.
They are advising pet owners to be mindful that pets can quickly become dehydrated and overheat. It is best to walk dogs early in the morning and late in the evening when the sun is less strong and temperatures are cooler. Before walking test the asphalt or concrete surface you plan to walk your pet on with the back of your hand. Dogs have sensitive paw pads and can burn their feet. If it’s too hot for your hands, it’s likely too hot for their feet.
Always have fresh water available for your pet; refresh and refill more often than on a normal day and leave extra if you are going out. You can also add ice cubes to your pet’s water. Make sure they have access to shade, and keep them indoors in cooler rooms when the heat becomes too extreme.
If you have a rabbit or other small mammals in the garden, keep their living quarters in the shade. You could also cover the front of their enclosures with newspaper as they can heat up very quickly. All caged animals, even if they are indoors, should be kept out of direct sunlight. Keep an eye on aviaries or birdcages, which are near to a window.
Heatstroke can cause serious damage and even be fatal to pets. Know the warning signs:
- Excessive panting
- Increased heart rate
- Dry or pale gums
- Weakness, stupor or collapse
To avoid overheating, try not to overexert your pet. Please keep in mind that older, overweight, animals with heart and lung conditions, and flat faced pets such as pugs or Persian cats are more susceptible to overheating. If you do notice the signs of overheating, it is important to act quickly:
- Move your pet to a cooler area
- Spray with cool (not cold) water
- Give your pet small amounts of cool (not cold) water to drink
- Contact your vet immediately
Never leave your animal alone in a parked vehicle. Parking in the shade and leaving the windows cracked is not effective enough to cool the inside of a car. Even if the temperature outside is 22°C, the inside of a car can reach 47°C. On a day that is 30°C or hotter, the inside of the car can reach fatal temperatures in under ten minutes. Dogs in particular are at risk because they cool themselves by panting. If the air becomes too hot, they are unable to regulate their body temperatures.
If you do witness an animal locked in a car on a hot day, the ISPCA recommends contacting your local Garda station or our National Animal Cruelty Helpine- 1890 515 515. Under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013, authorised officers can use reasonable force to enter a vehicle and rescue a distressed animal if necessary. Members of Garda Síochána or ISPCA Inspectors are considered “authorised officers.” Members of the public forcing entry into somebody else’s property could leave themselves open to legal action. In an emergency, it is best to contact the Gardaí immediately.
Household chemicals and common summer foods can be toxic to pets. If using sunscreen or insect repellent, please ensure the product is labelled as safe for use on pets. If you are unsure about certain products consult your vet. Alcoholic or caffeinated beverages, chocolate, coconut, grapes or raisins, onions, raw meat or excessively salty foods or foods containing the sweetener xylitol can be toxic or cause serious health issues for your pet. Keep them away from your pet during summer barbecues.
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