Thursday 24 June 2021

Cool cats and canines – help keep your four-legged friends comfortable and safe in hot weather

With the welcome arrival of warm weather, many of us enjoy basking in the sunshine. Whilst cats and dogs may look happy to be feeling the sun on their coats, it’s easy for them to suffer in the heat, so be aware of the risks and help to keep them cool, comfortable and healthy in heatwaves.

For our pets, hot weather can be a challenge. As responsible owners, it’s important to prevent heatstroke, sunburn and dehydration by knowing and recognising the signs.

Keeping cats cool -

• Always leave out plenty of fresh cold drinking water - including a bowl outside if they go there and refresh it regularly

• White and light-coloured cats in particular can get sunburn, which in turn can lead to skin cancer. Speak to your vet about safe sunscreen for cats, and apply it to their ears and nose before they go outside. Don’t use human sunscreen, though, it must be animal-friendly

• If your cat is happy to be brushed do this more regularly: she may be moulting more and extra fur means extra heat, so helping with natural shedding will assist in keeping her cool

• Cats may naturally eat less in hot weather, so don’t worry. If this happens Don’t leave wet food out in the heat, however, as it will attract flies and go mouldy more quickly

Recognise the signs

If your cat begins panting, appears unsteady and anxious, and has dry gums, she is showing signs of heatstroke. Contact your vet immediately, offer clean fresh water, and cool her paws with a cold compress.

Chilled canines, not hot dogs!

Dogs can suffer in the heat, too, so, as with cats, ensure that yours has shade and cold water available all the time.

• Think before walking your dog in hot weather. Pavements can become very hot and easily burn paws, so test the heat by placing your hand on the surface – can you keep your hand there for more than a few seconds? If you feel pain, so will your dog, so walk after sunset or on real grass if during the day. Astroturf or artificial grass can become dangerously hot, so don't walk dogs on it

• Many dogs like playing in water, so if you have the space, put out a paddling pool for your dog to splash in, helping helping him to keep cool. Don’t fill it so much that there is a danger of drowning

• Never EVER leave your dog in a car in warm/hot weather. In a matter of minutes the temperature will become unbearable, with potentially fatal consequences. Every summer, the police have to break into cars and rescue dogs who have been left to overheat

• Pet product manufacturers now make cool mats for dogs. Some are kept in the fridge, and stay cool for a while, and others become cool by reacting to the dog’s weight. Also available are cool vests that, when made wet, help regulate temperature

Enjoy the summer safely with your pets, and keep cool!

(c) photos Unsplash

Thursday 3 June 2021

A step towards improved animal welfare - UK law is set to recognise animals as sentient beings

In a victory for animal welfare campaigners, UK law is to formally recognise animals as sentient beings. Through a series of bills, including an Animal Sentience Bill, wide ranging topics will be covered by reforms, including live animal exports, the banning of the import of hunting trophies, the microchipping of cats and tackling puppy smuggling.

Photo by Madalyn Cox on Unsplash

Whilst undoubtedly a big step in the right direction for improvements in animal welfare, some issues have yet to be fully considered. Campaigners have long called for farming methods seen as needlessly cruel and inhumane, such as cages for poultry and farrowing crates for pigs, to be banned. However at present these are not subject to an outright ban, as was called for. Their use will be examined, and farmers will be offered incentives to improve animal health and welfare through the future farm subsidy regime. The government also pledged to uphold animal welfare in future trade deals, (but not put this into law).

The Government says that the Bill is the first step in the Action Plan for animal Welfare, which will “...further transform the lives of animals… “.


                                                                         Photo by Jo-Anne McArthur on Unsplash

However, questions remain around the definition of ‘animals’. Defined for the sake of the Bill as ‘vertebrate animals’, it is concerning that this will exclude, for example, highly intelligent creatures such as the octopus. And whilst there is a lot of debate and positive steps to encourage people to help depleting numbers of pollinators such as bees, wasps and butterflies to thrive, there is no direct correlation between the new Bill and them.

So, whilst undoubtedly a big step forward for animal welfare in the UK, we hope that the breadth and scope of the Bill continues to broaden to take into account all sentient beings, not just those that are ‘vertebrates’.

What are your thoughts about the introduction of the new Bill? Do you think it goes far enough to protect animals? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please add your comments, thanks.