It's been a relatively wet and cold start to spring for us this year, but as the weather turns warmer, as it has done for the previous couple of weeks, we pet owners must start to consider what we can do to make sure that our loving companions can stay cool, comfortable, and safe this summer. So, to help you in this endeavour, we have written this guide with some handy tips that you can use!
Managing your pet's water intake
We'll start with the most obvious tip - as it gets warmer, your pet will need to be taking in more water to keep cool and properly hydrated. If, like many owners, you simply fill a water bowl or bottle for your pet and leave them to drink from it ad-lib, you may want to think about some of the ways that you can help improve your pet's water quality.
The first thing that you can do is to ensure that your pet is given fresh water each day, even if they have not drank most of the water from it. This will not only mean that the water is kept more appealing as any dirt that accumulates in the bowl or bottle will get washed out, but also if the water starts becoming warm the fresh water will be cooler and more enjoyable for your pet. You may even want to consider changing the water multiple times per day, especially if the bowl or bottle is outside or located under direct sunlight.
Another tip to help here might be to also cool your pet's water before providing it to them. For cats and dogs, it can be important not to over-do this, but putting a few ice cubes into their water will keep it cool for them. For birds and small animals that drink from water bottles, it can also be a good idea to freeze a spare bottle for them, and to take it out shortly before swapping it out with the current bottle, which will give the pet cool water throughout most of the day.
Finally, depending on what kind of food you are feeding your animals, there may also be other tricks that you can use to help keep them cool. For example, If you have any small animals and regularly feed them greens and fresh fruits and vegetables, a good way to help them stay hydrated is to leave a fair amount of water on the food once you have washed it for them. This will passively increase their usual water intake! Additionally, if you have a pet that is being fed raw food from the freezer, it can be a great idea to take the meat out slightly earlier than usual, so that it is still very cool once you serve it to your pet. Some owners may even buy frozen raw bones and other treats which can be given to the pet while still frozen for them to gnaw on, which is an excellent way to both keep them occupied as well as keeping them cool and well-hydrated.
Managing your pet's environment
One of the most important considerations for pets during the summer is whether their environment is properly managed in order to combat the heat. This primarily means that you will need to create a space for the animals to stay which is cooler than the rest of their environment, so that they can retreat to this spot whenever they feel the need to.
For indoor pets, the best way to do this would be to choose a room of the house (preferably one that the pet already likes to stay in) and to open windows and close curtains. The open window will provide much-needed ventilation, and by closing the curtains the heat carried by sunlight will not make it into the room. A fan can also provide ventilation, if keeping a window open is not desirable.
For outdoor pets, it's very important that their enclosure is kept, at least partially, within plenty of shade. This means that enclosures will need to be shifted somewhere more appropriate, and if no shade is available, you will need to create some through simple means such as putting up parasols or other pieces of outdoor furniture. Bear in mind that when pets are hot, they will often like to sprawl out, and so the shade will be big enough to accommodate for this.
It's also vitally important during periods of hot weather that you take caution when brining your pet into vehicles. A car is going to heat up a lot more quickly than most rooms inside your home, and a pet can often find themselves endangered in left for one too long. If you must travel with a pet during hot weather, be sure to keep air-conditioning on or keep windows slightly opened, to park in the shade wherever possible, and to bring travel bowls or bottles for the pet to drink out of as and when they need to.
A great way to guard your pet from the heat is to keep them well groomed. This doesn't just mean keeping the hair cut short, but also in making sure that your animal's hair doesn't become matted or tangled, as this can trap the heat in those areas, making your pet feel more uncomfortable. Checking the animal over every day or so and straightening out any of these tangles is therefore a great way to help your pet keep cool.
If your pet enjoys being in water, it can also be a good idea to bathe your pet on especially hot days, too. This isn't just a good excuse to keep your pet clean, but will also help keep their body cool. This goes for birds too - providing a bath for your bird to splash around in not only helps them stay cool, but it can be enriching for them too.
For avian pets, it can also be good idea to regularly give your bird a gentle spray with a spray bottle of water during hot days. It's likely that if you have a pet bird that you already use spray bottles as many products (such as cage cleaners or anti-mite sprays) already come inside them. Simply take one of these bottles once it is empty, rinse it out thoroughly (make sure no residue is left of the bottle's previous contents, as to not cause any harm to the bird), then fill it up with water, and once or twice per day you can gently mist the bird with water from a distance to cool them down.
Other tips and tricks
Here's a few other tips or tricks that can really go a long way to helping your pets on those extra hot summer days!
Firstly, though this article has largely focused on keeping pets cool, it's also important to think about the effects the sun's rays can have on your pet. Though not widely known, pets with white or light-coloured fur can get sunburns if they are exposed to too much sunlight. Because of this, it can be important to pick up sunscreen for these pets, which can be bought in all sorts of forms, such as sunsticks or wipes.
If you have a pet that spends some times indoors and some times outdoors, such as dogs kept indoors being taken out for walks, or cats who stay both indoors and outdoors, you may want to plan their outside time so that they are only outdoors during the mornings and evenings. As the middle of the day is usually the warmest part of the day with the harshest sunlight, it can be best to get the pet's outdoor business done during times when it will be less uncomfortable for them outside.
A great way to provide a cooler space for pets (especially smaller animals!) is to buy ceramic tiles and place them in spots where they are likely to lounge. Ceramic tiles will keep cool even in the hottest weather, providing pets with a great place to sit when the heat begins to overwhelm them.
Lastly for your consideration, there are also some products that you can buy to further help your pets during the sunniest seasons. For pets lazing around at home, you can buy them a cooling mat, which are especially designed to take the pet's body heat and direct it away from them, making the mat very cool even when being sat on for long periods of time. Additionally, for pets on the go, it's also possible to pick up a cooling coat or bandana, both of which typically operate off the same principle, but are designed to be worn while the pet is out and about.
And so this article comes to a close! Hopefully you found some of these tips useful, and can carry them forward with you this summer as the weather continues to warm up and the good days being to roll. If you have any questions relating to pet care during warm weather, or if your interest had been piqued about one of the products mentioned in this article, feel free to click here to head over to our 'Contact Us' page, where you can find all of the relevant information to get hold of a member of staff.
Hoping to see you all in-store again sometime soon.
All the best,
Henry Jackson, Head of IT for Pet Food Plus More.