Mike Flynn: Pet owners need to keep their animals cool

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Warm weather in Scotland is rare, but when it comes everyone should be able to enjoy it safely, including our pets.

Owners have a responsibility to ensure their animals’ needs are met at all times, either in the home or when they are outdoors or travelling.

We strongly advise people not to leave their pets in cars during spells of warm weather. Even on a cloudy day the temperature inside a car can rise very quickly and this can often have serious and sometimes fatal consequences for any animals trapped inside.

People underestimate how dangerous this can be, but we have attended incidents where dogs have died as a result of being left in a hot car so the risk is real.

We aren’t scaremongering. Sadly, we have dealt with cases where dogs’ body temperatures have increased to such a point they have effectively been boiled alive from the inside. The suffering they endured would have been horrendous and what’s even worse is these tragedies were entirely avoidable.

Our advice is to leave dogs at home on warm days if they are going to be left in the car for any period of time as it is simply not worth the risk. Leaving a window open and providing water is not enough.

Animals like cats and dogs don’t have the ability to sweat so they must pant to cool down. By doing so they lose a lot of water from their bodies and they need to replace this water quickly otherwise they will become dehydrated.

Clean drinking water should always be available for your pet, either in the home or by taking a bottle of water and a bowl with you when spending the day outdoors or travelling with your pet.

Any pets kept outdoors must have access to shelter and shade, while indoor pets should be kept in well ventilated rooms. It’s common sense to avoid walking your dog in the midday sun and we’d advise anyone whose pet appears to be unwell due to the heat to contact their vet immediately for advice and assistance if necessary.

Mike Flynn is chief superintendent with the Scottish SPCA.