Why fur coats and sunshine don’t mix

Doug Patterson
Doug Patterson

Whilst we’re all enjoying the start of our ‘Pimms’ summer amidst Andy Murray’s success, spare a thought for our four legged companions who are still walking about with fur coats on!

When the thermometer hits 26 degrees, I like nothing more than to shed some layers, and sometimes even brave a pair of shorts. Imagine how uncomfortable it would be though, to turn up to the local ‘park run’ wearing a scarf, woollen socks and a waterproof jacket.

Unfortunately, dogs are not always known for common sense. If their master says it’s ok to go out chasing a ball in the midday sun, then off they will go – sometimes to their detriment. Heat stroke happens when the dog’s in-built cooling mechanism can no longer cool the blood, and the body temperature rises. Dogs cool themselves by panting, they can’t sweat. But with vigorous exercise and high temperatures, panting can only do so much. Once the blood reaches in excess of 40 degrees centigrade, collapse is fairly imminent.

What are the signs? Your dog will be panting extremely harshly, and appear unwilling to move. If you were to feel his or her ears and nose, they are likely to be burning hot.

What treatment? You need to cool him or her down as quickly as possible, and nothing works better than a good bucket, bath, or hosepipe full of ice cold water. As soon as you have performed this first aid, call your vet immediately. Heat stroke can be fatal, and is definitely considered to be an emergency.

How about cats? Cats, thankfully, seem to be more sensible in hot weather. They will tend to go to ground and not run around, preferring instead to sleep on the most comfortable pillow around. Make sure they have plenty fresh water to keep hydrated with though.

How to prevent? Walk your dog early in the morning, or late at night, not in the heat of the midday sun. Don’t do ball throwing or fast running when it’s hot like this outside, keep it to nice sedate strolling. Don’t leave your dog in the car unattended. Even with windows open, cars are killers. In this heat, it won’t take much longer than 15 minutes of being left alone in a car to make a dog fairly seriously ill. Armed with this warning: make the most of the sunshine!