Michael Staines
Michael Staines

16.56 31 May 2021


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Pet-owners are being reminded to watch out for signs of heat stress during the good weather.

On Lunchtime Live this afternoon, DSPCA veterinary surgeon Aoife Daly said dogs can find the sudden change in temperature challenging.

“This weather is great for us but unfortunately, it can be tough on our pets - especially dogs because they can’t sweat,” she said.

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“They have to eliminate excessive heat by panting and sometimes when we get a massive increase in temperatures, the panting just isn’t enough which can cause an increase in core body temperature and that can be fatal.

“So really, as much as the fine weather is great, we have to have a bit of fore-planning with our pets and make sure we are not putting them in a situation where it can impact their health and be potentially fatal.”

Sophie Parrish and her dog Tia eat an ice cream Sophie Parrish and her dog Tia eat an ice cream, 21-04-2009. Image: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive/PA Images

She said it is essential to watch out for any sign your dog might be struggling with the heat.

“The most important thing is really to be aware that they may find it more difficult,” she said.

“If you are doing a strenuous activity, dogs won’t limit themselves. If they are chasing a ball or going hiking with you, dogs won’t tell you, ‘I need to stop.’ They will be panting away and you need to read those signs.”

She said dogs with long coats – like huskies, retrievers and some labs – or dogs with short noses – like Frenchies, pugs and Shih Tzus – are especially vulnerable, alongside those that are overweight or unfit.

“So, if you notice excessive panting, if they are drooling, if their gums are red or if it progresses to loss of coordination or even collapse, they are all worrying symptoms and you need to ring your vet if it gets that far,” she said.

“Before that of course, remove them from the environment, make sure they have access to shade, fresh cool water and that you are not doing anything excessive for their fitness levels.

“If you have a little dog and you go for a little short walk 20 minutes a day usually, this isn’t the weather really to try and go for a two-hour hike in the mountains so just be aware of that.”

 A neighbourhood cat enjoys the springtime sun A neighbourhood cat enjoys the springtime sun. Image: Mark Stedman/RollingNews

She said cats needs access to shade and fresh water throughout the day.

“If they are an indoor/outdoor cat, make sure there is a window open for them or they have a cat flap so they can get in out of the heat of the day and they have fresh water,” she said.

“For most cats that will be enough. As long as they can avoid the heat of the day, that is the main thing.”

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