How to keep your pet cool during lockdown
Every summer we hear stories about pets falling ill and it’s just as important to keep your pet cool during lockdown.
With dogs only being able to have limited walks, and us making only essential trips out in our cars, some hazards can be avoided.
It’s less likely that dogs will overheat in cars or be forced to endure days out at the beach when it’s boiling hot.
Even though we’re stuck at home, we still need to be mindful of the effects of the heat on pets.
I spoke to pet professionals for their advice on keeping pets cool during lockdown – not just dogs but cats and horses too.
Grooming tips for dogs
Stephanie Zikmann, a holistic dog groomer who runs Scrub a Dug Dug, says while dogs can’t go to the groomers there is plenty you can do to keep them cool.
She said: “Whatever breed you have, brush and comb your dog daily. This gets rid of dead hair and gives you a chance to check them over.
“For double coated dogs like Huskies, Border Collies and Bernese Mountain Dogs, a well groomed coat that is matt and tangle free will work at regulating the dogs body temperature naturally.
“So you shouldn’t be shaving or clipping these breeds as it increases the likelihood of sunburn because the skin is exposed more and can result in heat stroke.
“Short haired dogs are easy to maintain and it’s good to get in the habit of brushing daily – use the time you have to bond with them.
“For their paw pad care, use a soothing salve to help keep them from drying up or alternatively use pet shoes.
“Remember, even if you’re at home and not out on long walks, not to let them walk on hot surfaces or get too warm.
“It’s important to keep pads free from hair as this is where they sweat. Keep pads neat and tidy to allow them to function properly.”
Stay at home and don’t get hot and bothered
Caroline Wilkinson is a behaviourist and runs online training and support for dog owners at Barket Place and says it’s a good idea for pets to stay at home when the mercury rises.
She explained: “If it’s a hot day, leave your dog at home rather than taking them for a walk, they don’t need to go out and this will help with separation anxiety for when you’re back at work.
“If you do go out, keep your walks short, ensure you have water with you and there is access to shade. And plan so your walk is during early morning or late afternoon time.
“When you’re at home, make sure there is lots of fresh air flowing through your home especially if you don’t have a garden, so keep windows or doors open.
“It’s important to make sure water is available for dogs of all ages but particular for puppies and older dogs.
“Any training or enrichment activities you might be doing as an alternative to walks should be done early morning or late at night as dogs won’t be able to learn as effectively if they are hot and bothered.
“Finally, value the importance of sleep and make sure your dog has a safe space to go to away from the children as they can be hot, bothered and little irritable in the hot weather, just as we are.”
Let your dog go fishing
Dog trainer Rachel Rodgers from Nose to Trail suggests a fishing game in the garden for your dogs to enjoy – and cats too.
She’s sharing Videos with loads of fun ideas for your dog every day, from turning Easter Egg boxes into toys to using your tea towel as a challenge.
Check them out: www.facebook.com/NoseToTrailPetServices
Keep an eye cats and horses who might have delicate skin
Zita Wells runs Pet Patrol 365 and looks after all kinds of animals. She says we need to think about cats and horses in the hot weather too.
She said: “While we’re on lockdown, cat owners will be more aware of their movements as they’re at home all the time.
“Keep your cat indoors as much as possible particularly around midday and don’t let them lie on the window sill in the direct glare of the sun.
“If they have white ears, forehead and nose, consider a pet friendly SPF to put on them and always ensure any product you use isn’t toxic to animals.
“Make a shaded part of the garden just for them, and plant some catnip there, along with their bed or blanket and some toys. Use this time to enjoy being with your cat.”
As well as dogs and cats, Zita cares for horses and says their delicate skin can suffer in the sun.
She explained: “Horses with pink noses can also get badly burnt and need sunscreen and this can be very painful.
“Many horses wear fly-hoods or fringes in the summer, but these still leave the nose exposed, so ensure they have shade.”
Groomer Susan Thomson from Laundromut
Create treats that are fun for you and your dog
Susan Thomson who runs The Laundromut and dog boarding in Grangemouth, Falkirk, has been supporting key workers during lockdown.
She shares some of the treats she creates in the warmer months.
Sue explained: “I make all the food for my dogs and you can get creative now you have more time and make some lovely treats for them.
“I freeze apple and veggies and make ice cream for them from banana mashed with some yoghurt or kefir.
“It’s important to brush your dog every day to make sure your dog’s coat stays healthy, and to keep them cool, you can freeze or cool wet tea towels for them to lie on or chew on.
“Another idea to keep their paws cool is rub ice cubes on them, and of course you can always set up a paddling pool for them and let them splash around.”
Most of all, enjoy the extra time you have in lockdown with your fur family, and be mindful that the changes that are happening in the world right now will be troubling them too.
So make sure you look out for cues that they might be feeling out of sorts, and give them space when they need it.
And enjoy a cool summer with your pets.