Keeping dogs cool in summer

We all love summer, in particular when we experience spells of good weather. Warm sunny days are a real treat for everyone, but as the temperature rises it can affect our pets too, although they can’t let us know if they’re suffering so it’s important to help your dog stay cool in the heat and enjoy the summer months.

It’s not just us humans that suffer from the negative effects of the sun; dogs can be victims of sunburn, and even skin cancer, too. With this in mind, be careful not to use sunscreen designed for humans on your dog, as the chemicals they’re produced with can irritate their skin and also be harmful if ingested (and we all know dogs’ tendencies to lick their coats!). There are special sun lotions formulated for pets, available in pet stores, but the best option is to minimise the time your dog spends exposed in the sun where possible. Dogs’ hair has insulating properties and in fact helps to keep them cool, but this is not commonly known amongst pet owners who often believe getting their coat trimmed will help. Certain breeds are more susceptible to catching the sun than others, including those with white and lighter coloured fur so they will need extra protection from the sun.

It should go without saying but never leave your dog in a parked car; even with the window cracked, cars rapidly overheat to unbearable temperatures and this could lead to sunstroke. Likewise, you should avoid tying your dog up outside in the sun – if you need to leave them temporarily then be sure to find a shady spot such as under a tree. Dogs enjoy being outside on nice days, so ensure there is always a cool, sheltered spot accessible for them in your garden then there’s no need for them to miss out.

With long, bright days, summer is a great time of year for enjoying the outdoors even more with your pet and means great exercise for both of you! As the weather improves, try to select cooler times of the day to take your dog out such as mornings or early evenings instead of the heat of the day. If you are doing more strenuous activity with them, such as fetch or Frisbee in the park, make sure you observe if they seem to be getting tired or overheating – excessive panting or appearing lethargic are signs of this. Taking a bottle of water along with you is ideal to help re-hydrate your dog or also use it to cool them down.

Dehydration and heatstroke are the main concerns for dogs when the weather gets hot, however both can be quite easily prevented by taking the right steps. More than ever, in summer it’s vital to keep your pet hydrated so make sure they have a plentiful supply of water accessible to them at all times, including an extra bowl in the garden. Pet fountains, such as our Drinkwell range, are a great way of providing a constant supply of fresh, filtered water which means no need to worry when you are out. Heatstroke can develop very quickly and the symptoms to look out for include panting, apparent dehydration, extremely high temperature, a fast heartbeat and if your dog appears anxious. If you notice any of these signs, ensure you seek immediate advice from your vet.

Now you know what to consider you and your pet can enjoy the benefits of summer together – safe and happy.

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Fascinating dog facts about your furry friend

Dogs are astonishing animals that provide us with endless joy and companionship, but there is also far more to these furry creatures than a lot of us might realise. Not that we need any reason to appreciate them more, but these 10 fascinating facts will make you see your pet and the things they can do in a whole new light:

  1. Dogs have sweat glands only in the skin between pads on their paws.
  2. Dogs have three eyelids; the third lid, called a nictitating membrane or “haw,” keeps the eye lubricated and protected.
  3. A dog’s shoulder blades are unattached to the rest of the skeleton to allow greater flexibility for running. Human shoulders are attached to our chest by our collar bones – dogs don’t have proper collar bones.
  4. Dogs can smell about 1,000 times better than humans; while humans have 5 million smell-detecting cells, dogs have more than 220 million. The part of the brain that interprets smell is also four times larger in dogs than in humans.
  5. Dalmatians are completely white when they are born.
  6. A dog can locate the source of a sound in 1/600 of a second and can hear sounds four times farther away than a human can.
  7. Touch is the first sense the dog develops; their entire body, including the paws, is covered with touch-sensitive nerve endings.
  8. Eighteen muscles or more can move a dog’s ear to help it locate the source of a sound.
  9. Dogs can see in colour, though they most likely see colours similar to a colour-blind human. They can see better in low light.
  10. Dogs are about as smart as a two or three-year-old child; this means they can understand about 150-200 words, including signals and hand movements with the same meaning as words

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Understanding your cat’s language – why do cats meow?

Wouldn’t it be great if cat owners could understand what their pet is saying or thinking? Cats are not able to express their feelings through facial expressions as much as dogs; cats use body language, scent marking and sounds. In fact, the meow sound that cats make is mainly made to humans and not other adult cats. Generally, the only time a cat will meow to another cats is a mother with her kittens in order to return their sounds for attention. With studies showing they’re capable of over 15 variations of the noise, it’s important to learn what each one really means so you can better understand your feline friend’s needs!

It seems cats have learnt that meowing is the most effective way of getting our attention and conveying their mood or desire; it’s therefore widely believed to have been developed by cats to communicate just to humans. Many recognise their cat’s meow as they circle their food bowl and associate it with hunger, and by acknowledging this noise with the act of giving them food cats quickly see it as an effective method. Whether we like it or not, we all know who’s really in control!

Often when your cat meows we are able to guess further about the reason from the particular context such as location or time of day, but what about those harder to read noises, where the reason behind them is not quite as clear? There are several different types of meow that vary in pitch, volume and length, and these aspects can help you to understand what your cat is saying.

A short, high-pitched meow is most commonly a greeting noise, several of which together display a greater enthusiasm (so be sure to show your cat some attention if you hear this!). More lower pitched, harsher sounds indicate cats expressing more negative feelings like annoyance or anger. Demands for actions are often more drawn out noises, such as a desire to be let in or to be fed.

Some cats are more vocal than others, so if your usually quiet cat is exhibiting a change in behaviour which includes excessive meowing, then this could be caused by an underlying medical issue which means it’s always best to seek expert advice if you’re concerned by this.

There will be times when your cat simply wants some extra love and attention. In 2009, animal vocalisation experts identified a special manipulative purr that felines have evolved, in part, to get what they want from people. This is called ‘solicitation purring’ and owners must be careful not to interpret this as a need for food because most often it’s just a need for attention; if owners indulge their cats with food every time they purr they could be at risk of developing an obesity problem. It is best to indulge a purring cat by petting and playing with them. Paying attention to the situations in which you cat commonly meows and the types of sounds these are will help you to better understand your pet and lead to a very happy cat!

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