Too hot to trot: Petplan launches digital “weather furcast” as mini-heatwave hits UK this week - Veterinary Practice
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Too hot to trot: Petplan launches digital “weather furcast” as mini-heatwave hits UK this week

7 in 10 UK dog owners say they’re concerned about what rising UK temperatures mean for their pet pooch with 1 in 10 dogs having suffered from summer heat exhaustion

After a run of disappointing drizzle throughout July, the UK is set to hit higher notes this week, as the temperature peaks at a delightful 26 degrees, great for humans but not so delightful for dogs.

To lend a helping hand to dog owners everywhere, Petplan has launched a first-of-its-kind interactive “Weather Furcast” for dogs. The digital tool, hosted on their website updates in real time to show when is and isn’t safe to walk your dog, helping dog owners make safe choices this summer.

The launch comes as over 6 in 10 (64 percent) dog owners were unaware that cloudy but humid weather could be hazardous to their pups, and over 8 in 10 said that on a sunny day, they’d wait until it was cloudier to walk their dog. Whilst this feels logical, the real danger to dogs lies in the temperature, not whether or not it’s sunny, although this still plays a part.

Although almost two thirds of dog owners (62 percent) were confident they knew exactly when it was safe to walk their dogs in summer, only one quarter (25 percent) correctly identified 23 degrees as being the turning point at which owners should be exercising caution.

With temperatures just shy of 30 early this week, shockingly, almost 1 in 10 dog owners said they’d happily walk their dog in 28 degree heat – a hazardous temperature for all dogs, and potentially life-threatening for large and high-risk dogs, such as those with flat faces.

For avoidance of doubt, dog owners can head to the Weather Furcast for advice – users should simply select their dog type from small, medium, large and high-risk breeds (with a key for guidance), as well as their local region. The current temperature in their area will display on the map, alongside a red, amber or green paw print symbol and furmometer, letting them know whether it’s safe to go out, whether they need to exercise caution, or whether the current temperature is dangerous, and they should stay indoors for the time being.

The research also highlighted that the biggest concerns when it comes to summer petcare were dehydration (67 percent), heatstroke (61 percent) and difficulty breathing/excessive panting (45 percent). Over one third of British pet owners said although they had a vague idea of when it’s safe to take their dog for walks, they weren’t certain at which temperature it becomes dangerous.

Whilst the tool aims to help avoid any heat-related illnesses in dogs this summer, pet owners should still familiarise themselves with heat stroke first aid, as the recent survey revealed that over three quarters of pet owners (78 percent) incorrectly believe it’s safe to place a wet towel over their pet in the case of heatstroke.

Although well-meaning, the reality is that placing a wet towel over your pet’s body – including cats too – can trap in the heat, causing them to overheat further. Instead, the pet should be moved into the shade, and onto a cool surface where possible, and a cool, damp towel should be placed underneath their body.

Other heat stroke symptoms pet owners weren’t confident in recognising included heavy panting (30 percent) and an upset stomach (49 percent).

Brian Faulkner, RCVS-registered veterinary surgeon and Petplan spokesperson said, “Pet owners across the country have the best intentions when it comes to summer petcare, but in the UK, we’re not yet accustomed to the higher summer temperatures we often now see. Despite a summer of intermittent sunshine, owners still need to exercise caution, as even overcast, cloudy weather can be hazardous for dogs. We need to adapt our dog walking routines and general pet care behaviours to meet increasing temperatures, and Petplan’s new Furcast tool aims to help take uncertainty out of the equation.”

With 15 percent of dog owners having had to visit the vets due to heat-related illness and summer-related injuries like stings and bites, and one in two dog owners (50 percent) planning to spend this Bank Holiday weekend outdoors with their pooch, Petplan has compiled a guide on how best to care for dogs, cats and rabbits this summer. Visit their website to find out more and try the Weather Furcast tool.

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