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Five tips to keep your pet safe during a heatwave: ‘Your dog will not die from missing a few walks’

A leading Northern Ireland animal welfare charity has issued a warning to pet owners across Northern Ireland as temperatures are expected to hit 30 degrees in some areas.

The USPCA said in a statement to the Belfast Telegraph, “Whilst many of us are enjoying this wonderful spell of weather, it is very different for our pets who struggle to regulate their body temperature when exposed to extreme weather conditions.”

Colleen Tinnelly, USPCA Development Manager, said: “Not taking the right action during the warmer weather can have heart-breaking, fatal consequences – your pet’s needs should always be an absolute priority.”

They have advised owners take precautions to ensure their pets remain well hydrated and have a constant supply of cool clean drinking water.

“It’s crucial that your pet has access to a shaded rest area and has a constant supply of clean and cool water – your pet’s water dish should be refilled regularly with cooler water or ice cubes during the day. You can also freeze some treats for your pet to enjoy – such as carrot or apple bites, chopped watermelon and banana, or peanut butter which can be placed inside toys and provides great enrichment for them.”

The UPCA have also said dog owners should think twice before taking your furry friend out for a walk in hotter weather.

“It can be very tempting to take our dogs out with us on walks or family days out however this can be very dangerous for them.

“Typically, we would recommend not walking your dog during peak times in warmer weather however in this current heatwave, the heat is unrelenting even in early morning / late evening times – as many would say, your dog will not die from missing a few walks but can die from overheating so please do not take that risk.”

The charity has added one of the most important pieces of advice they believe is important during a heatwave or warmer weather – never leave your pet in the car saying “not long will always be too long.”

“The interior temperatures of a car can increase dramatically and leaving your pet in this environment puts them at extreme risk – unfortunately we have seen cases in the past where animals have suffered severe heat stroke and sadly died as a result.”

The USPCA said if you see someone’s pet in a vehicle on a hot day, it’s best to contact the Animal Welfare Department at your local council who can offer advice, help identify the owner, and ensure the animal is freed from danger.

The PSNI have warned in their guidance about leaving animals in hot cars “Under the Animal Welfare Act, you have a legal duty to care for your animals and if you put them at risk, you will face prosecution. You would also have to live with the fact that your thoughtless action resulted in terrible suffering for your pet.”

The USPCA have also provided the following tips on how to keep your pet safe in the warm summer months –

For overall pet safety during the summer months, keep these tips in mind:

- Pets can become dehydrated more easily on warm or humid days, so make sure they have access to fresh, clean water
- Consider making your pet tasty frozen treats to help cool them down

- Make sure you understand the symptoms of overheating in pets which includes increased heart or respiratory rate, weakness, excessive panting or difficulty breathing, drooling, or an exhaustive, semi-unconscious state. If exposed to extreme heats, more severe symptoms include seizures, bloody diarrhoea, and vomiting.

- Never leave a pet in a parked car

- With very high temperatures, be mindful of tarmac heat as this may burn the pads of your pets’ paws – regularly cool them with water and keep walks to a minimum during peak times of the day


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