Our Guide On How To Keep Your Furry Friends Safe & Well On A Long Journey
We’re currently experiencing a heatwave in the UK, with temperatures reaching as high as 29 degrees in many parts of the country by the afternoon. Whilst this hot period is much more pleasant than waking up to rainy days, it can be difficult to find ways to stay cool and this is just the same for our much loved pets.
As the schools close for the summer holidays, many of us will be preparing for a trip away with the children and for some families, this means bringing ‘Fido’ along too!
With this in mind, we wanted to draw your attention to how important it is that you prepare for your long journey by thinking ahead to your pets needs, as they rely solely on us for their protection in hot weather. Unlike us humans who know when we feel too hot, or need a drink, our furry friends can’t talk and let us know how they’re feeling, so we must do the thinking for them.
The first thing you should do ahead of any kind of long journey is to prepare your car. Carry out a simple maintenance check that ensures your vehicle is ready for the trip ahead – in this hot weather, the last thing you want to deal with is a breakdown!
If you can, consider setting off in the early hours when the temperature is lower. You can take your dog for a short walk in the early morning before the journey begins.
Make sure you pack plenty of water for yourselves and your pet pooch too. Carry more than you think you’ll need, as you never know what could happen on a journey – delays might happen! A good idea is to fill litre bottles to 2/3rds full of water and freeze them, as they defrost on the way and provide cool water for your dogs to enjoy.
Don’t forget to pack your dogs water bowl and make regular stops so that they can do their business and have a drink. If possible, park in a shady place and walk them on the grass rather than hard floors that can get extremely hot and could burn your dog’s pads.
You might want to look at investing in some cooling products for your furry friend such as cooling mats or cooling vests or you could simply use damp towels for your dog to lie on. If you stop overnight in your car though, remember to remove the cooling mat or damp towels.
On your journey, make sure the air conditioning is kept on or the windows are open to keep the dogs cool. When you stop for refreshments, NEVER leave your dog in the car alone, no matter how quick you think you’re going to be. The temperature inside a car can reach dangerous levels and could lead to heatstroke, so just don’t do it – leaving windows open slightly does not help at all!
Many of us are familiar with the old saying; “Mad dogs and Englishman go out in the midday sun” and unfortunately this is often the case but it’s not a good idea. It’s much better to plan your days with this in mind, taking walks, swimming and doing any kind of outdoor fun activities either in the morning or late in the afternoon.
Before venturing out with your dog, give him or her a good brushing to remove any dead or loose fur, as this will help to keep them cooler. You can also buy pet-safe suncream for your dog to use on sensitive areas such as their nose and tips of their ears.
It might also be a good idea to know where the nearest veterinary surgery is located in the area you’ve planned to visit and add their telephone number & address to your contacts, just in case.
Symptoms of Heatstroke
We hope you never have to deal with this but it’s worth knowing the common symptoms of heatstroke in dogs. The RSPCA says to look for the following signs:
- Heavy panting
- Excessive drooling
- Lethargic, confused, drowsy
- Collapsing, unresponsive, limp
What To Do
If your dog has been out in hot weather and starts to show any signs of the above symptoms, you need to act fast to reduce the affects of heatstroke. Your dog’s body temperature needs to be lowered very quickly.
How To Lower Your Dogs Body Temperature:
- Move your dog to a cool and shaded area
- Pour cool (but not cold) water over them
- Use cool, wet towels to cover them
- Give your dog small amounts of cool water
- Carry on pouring cool water over them, but not enough to have them shivering.
Once you’ve completed the above and your dog’s breathing has calmed down, call the emergency vets without delay.
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