Heat wave: how to protect our dogs, cats and pets from the heat?

While a third of France is currently placed on red and orange heat wave alert and heat waves are set to increase in the coming years, our pets are also suffering from the rise in temperatures. Law of nature obliges, if men are responsible for global warming, it is the animals, genetically less well equipped to deal with high heat, who suffer the most.

Indeed, humans have a body temperature regulation system: perspiration. By evaporating through the pores of the skin, sweat allows the heat to be evacuated and thus lowers our body temperature. A natural mechanism that our dear four-legged friends do not have. So what about them and what advice do specialists give to provide the best relief?

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How do dogs and cats regulate their temperature?

With only a few sweat glands between the pads of their paws, dogs and cats are unable to cool themselves sufficiently in the face of high heat. They regulate their body temperature through respiration, but this costs them a lot of energy and heart strain. Functioning as a natural barrier, both against the cold and against the heat, the animal coat helps with thermoregulation. Contrary to a (false) received idea, it is therefore not necessary to cut their hair to help them withstand the summer season.

The two furry beasts are not, however, quite equal in their ability to resist heat. From its African ancestors from desert regions, the cat has inherited genes and behaviors that make it less sensitive to high temperatures than the dog. In the event of a heat wave, our feline friends will instinctively take refuge in the coolest place they can find. Their urinary system also promotes better retention of ingested water than that of canines. But for one as for the other, some advice can really allow owners to promote a certain thermal comfort.

What actions to help dogs withstand the heat?

The most important thing is to refresh them throughout the day by always providing them with a bowl of fresh water.“, explains Laura Daydie, project manager at the 30 Million Friends Foundation. “Fresh and not cold or icy” she specifies, at the risk of causing them digestive disorders or thermal shock. Questioned by Geo, the specialist makes the following recommendations:

  • Adapt walking hours to the cooler times of the day (morning and evening)
  • During walks, favor shady corners and earthy floors over the bitumen of the sidewalks (watch out for the pads!)
  • Renew the bowl regularly with fresh water
  • In case of long absence, leave several water points in the house
  • Arrange the home to provide access to a cool place, such as a tiled room
  • Refresh them with a damp towel or washcloth

If the dog is old, sick or suffers from any difficulty that makes it even more sensitive to exposure to the sun and heat, you can possibly use a cooling mat, or simply moisten a bath mat so that it is install there.

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How to relieve our cats during a heat wave?

  • Avoid letting them out during the hottest hours of the day
  • Renew the bowl regularly with fresh water
  • In case of long absence, leave several water points in the house
  • Arrange the home to provide access to a cool place
  • Refresh them with a damp towel or washcloth

If your home is particularly small, or poorly insulated, and it is very hot there, you can also moisten a towel which you then place on the drying rack to create a small cool shelter, your cat will be sure to take shelter there.

Finally, for cats as for dogs, which generally eat dry and dehydrated kibble, choose mash or consider moistening the kibble with water, or even including water-rich vegetables such as pieces of cucumber in their diet.

What symptoms should alert us to?

Unlike cats, dogs pant, but if they do it very quickly, “it’s heatstroke“, warns the project manager of 30 Millions d’Amis. It is then necessary not to hesitate to go to the veterinarian to ensure the good health of the animal.

Among other signs that your pet is in bad shape, mucous membranes, lips and gums can be an indicator. If they redden, it means that your protege is suffering from heatstroke and that it is necessary to refresh him as soon as possible and monitor his condition. Be careful, if his lips turn blue or white, you must go to the veterinarian urgently. You can then gradually cool the animal with a damp towel and wrap it in it for the road.

Hamster, snake, mouse, what to do for the NAC?

When we talk about “pets”, we often instinctively think of dogs and cats, yet they are not our only companions. Indeed, the “NAC” or “New Pets” are also increasingly part of our homes. Rodents, amphibians or other insects usually live in vivariums or cages.

Thus, the main advice to apply is to keep the habitats away from the windows and of course to close the shutters. If necessary, a damp towel can be placed around the cage to provide further relief.

What to do if you find an animal locked in a car?

At 30 Millions d’Amis we have many reports of animals being locked in a car“, adds Laura Daydie. This is why I would like to remind you that under no circumstances should you leave an animal in a car, even if you are parked in the shade and the windows are open..” And for good reason, the temperature inside can reach 50 degrees in just a few minutes, and cause the death of your animal.

Also, if you come across a dog stuck or forgotten in a car, you must contact the police immediately, or if they do not arrive quickly enough, know that you can surround yourself with witnesses, take pictures if necessary and break the glass legally to save the animal.

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