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How to keep your pets cool during a heatwave

British Columbians have been told to prepare as temperatures are set to rise for end of July
Vets warn not to go to temperature extremes with your pets. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman)

As the province issues safety heat tips ahead of a forecasted heatwave, it’s important to know how to keep your pets cool, too.

The final week of July could see some higher than usual temperatures across the province. In Cranbrook and elsewhere in the Kootenays, it’s forecasted to get up to the mid to low 30 C range next week.

Recently, social media posts have been circulating warning not to give dogs ice cubes - the posts claim that this could cause a drastic temperature fluctuation.

READ: British Columbians told to prepare as temperatures set to ramp up this weekend

Jeff Cooper, Practice Manager with Tanglefoot Veterinary Services, says that according to the Tanglefoot vets, it’s best not to go to temperature extremes with pets. If they’re overheating, gradually bringing their temperature down is key.

“For example, if a dog is left in a hot car and overheating, you would want to get into a shady, cool place with water right away, but you would not want to put them directly from the hot car into an ice bath,” he said, adding that pets should never be left in hot vehicles.

Cooper says that according to the vets, putting ice cubes in your dog’s water shouldn’t be a problem, but it’s also not necessary.

“Keeping your pet hydrated is important to keep them cool and safe,” reads an information bulletin from the BC SPCA. “Keep fresh bowls of cool water that are easily accessible to your furry friends. Have a finicky cat? They might be more enticed with a fun fountain water bowl.”

Cooper agreed, but cautioned that it is possible for your pet to drink too much water so it’s important to monitor them.

“Known as water toxosis or water poisoning, this can happen with people, too,” Cooper said.

Signs and symptoms of water intoxication include loss of coordination, lethargy, bloating, vomiting, glazed eyes, excessive salivation, difficulty breathing, seizures and falling into a coma, according to the SPCA. If a dog shows signs of those symptoms, call a vet right away.

READ: Victoria dog owner warns others of water intoxication after dog’s death

The SPCA also recommends giving pets a cool place to sleep when it’s hot.

“Before leaving the house, ensure your pet has a cool place to sleep and relax. This might mean ensuring they remain on the low level of the home where it’s cooler, as well as providing a cozy area for them that’s out of direct sunlight,” says the SPCA. “You might also want to close blinds and curtains to keep your space as cool as possible.”

Some dogs and cats also benefit from cooling mats. Fans are always good to have, especially if you don’t have air conditioning, adds the SPCA.

And creating a frozen treat can help cool down your pet, too. A frozen treat bowl or a Kong filled with peanut butter and placed in the freezer can provide them with an activity that cools them down slowly.

Last but not least, you can always take your pet to one of the many pet-friendly nearby lakes or streams and let them cool off in the water, or fill a kiddie pool in your yard, just make sure to monitor them.

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Corey Bullock

About the Author: Corey Bullock

Corey Bullock is a multimedia journalist and writer who grew up in Burlington, Ontario.
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