Northern Ireland animal welfare charity, the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (USPCA), has issued a warning to pet owners across the region as temperatures continue to climb.

Colleen Tinnelly, USPCA development manager, said:

“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.

“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.

“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.”

Tinnelly added that pet owners can also freeze some treats for pets 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.

She continued:

“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.

“One of the most important pieces of advice we can give members of the public is to never leave them in a car.

“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.”

For overall pet safety during the summer months, keep these USPCA 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.