Keeping your Small Pet Safe in Soaring Temperatures
We all love the summer months with long days, warm weather, and plenty of time outdoors. But when the temperatures soar, it can get to a point when it becomes dangerous for pets.
In these circumstances our thoughts often turn to how we protect our larger animals from the heat – dogs and cats in particular.
But it’s just as important to consider the impact of extreme heat on our smaller pets – from heat-stroke and sunburn to dehydration, our tiny furry family including hamsters, gerbils, chinchillas, mice, rats, ferrets, guinea pigs and more are just as vulnerable and need our help to stay safe.
To help you create the best environment and conditions to protect your small pets from the height of summer heat, we’ve put together a handy list of things to consider, as follows…
Knowing the ideal temperature for your pet
A great starting point to keeping your small pet safe is to know the temperature range in which they’re most comfortable.
Small pets such as those listed above generally thrive in temperatures on or just below 80 degrees Fahrenheit/25 degrees Celsius. A variance of a few degrees cooler is fine, but be careful that temperatures don’t exceed this limit – chinchillas in particular have thicker coats and can overheat quickly.
Ideal locations for small pet enclosures
Be very conscious of placing your small pet’s enclosure in places where they are not exposed to direct sunlight, whether indoors or outside. Even indoors, direct sun can cause a significant temperature spike and lead to heat damage to your pet.
Ensure too that there is plenty of natural ventilation to help regulate the overall temperature, but without exposing your small pet to direct wind or heavy draughts caused by fans or air-conditioning, as fast-moving air can cause both dehydration and unnatural fluctuations in temperature which can cause distress.
Travelling with your small pet
If you’re taking your small pet with you in the car, whether on holiday or to a vet or similar, be sure to cool your car down to a comfortable temperature (around 80°F/25°C) before you set off, and never leave your pet unattended in the car, even for quick stops to a shop or similar – it takes very little time for the temperatures in a parked car to spike.
Be very careful too not to expose your pet to direct sunlight for extended periods.
Look out for any signs of distress
Your pet will begin to show signs of heat-related stress very quickly if their temperature begins to spike. Look out for the following, and take your pet to a vet immediately if they begin to display:
· Increased respiration/panting
· Red gums
· Red ears
Easy, simple things you can do to keep them cool
There are many things you can do that will help to cool your small pet, including:
· Ensuring a constant supply of fresh, cool water (served in bowls or feeders that are regularly cleaned and disinfected, as hotter temperatures can cause faster growth of algae or harmful bacteria)
· Giving them frozen treats such as food, ice blocks, frozen water bottles that deliver cold water as they thaw. Be careful to avoid direct skin contact of frozen items as they can cause ‘freeze burn’, and don’t give frozen items to neonatal pets who have not yet developed enough fur.
· Remove excess padding and items in their enclosures that could cause ‘hot spots’ and reduce airflow.
· Remove any exercise items such as wheels for the hottest periods of the day to avoid your pet overheating whilst doing their daily spin!
· Do regular deep cleans of their enclosures, as the heat can cause a faster build-up of bacteria that could be harmful.
If you have any questions about keeping your small pet safe as the sun takes hold this summer please contact your nearest vet, or get advice from various online resources such as the RSPCA at www.rspca.org.uk.