How can we help our pets during a heat wave? – Ouest-France evening edition

By Mathilde LE PETITCORPS

An exceptional rise in temperatures is expected this week in France. The 40°C will undoubtedly be reached locally in Toulouse, Montpellier and Lyon, temperatures difficult to bear for us but also for our pets. Here are eight tips from Vincent Debitus, veterinary assistant in Rennes (Ille-et-Vilaine) to help dogs and cats during the heat wave.

The hot weather is back, in mid-June 2022, in France. And we are not the only ones to suffer from it, our pets too. “They normally manage to regulate their temperature on their own, especially cats and dogs, which evacuate heat through their pads”, explains Vincent Debitus, veterinary assistant at the Ille et Vet veterinary clinic, located in Rennes (Ille-et-Vilaine). Nevertheless, there are a few tips to help our little four-legged friends cool off during a heat wave.

1. Avoid going out during the hottest hours

It’s a matter of common sense, but Vincent Debitus prefers to remind you: “We must favor outings early in the morning and late in the evening, and avoid walks during the hottest hours of the day for dogs. » As for the cats, it is preferable not to let them go out when it is very hot or else you have to make sure that they have the possibility of going into the shade. In the same vein, it is also recommended not to use them too much, when it is 35°C.

2. Make sure your pet is hydrated

The most important thing is to ensure that he never lacks water, so that he does not become dehydrated. “To encourage him to drink regularly as much as possible, we recommend giving him access to fresh water at will, and even multiplying the access points”, insists Vincent Debitus.

3. Serve wet food to cats

In cats, hydration can be more of a problem than in dogs. Felines are small drinkers so Vincent Debitus recommends “serve them moist foods, such as pâtés or wet freshness sachets, composed of 90% water”. The veterinary assistant adds: “There are even powder packets to flavor the water with chicken or other flavors to entice cats to drink more. »

4. Clip the belly of dogs

Dogs and cats are used to lying flat on their stomachs on the cooler tiled floors of houses to cool off. And to help the dogs when it’s very hot, “it is possible to mow their bellies”, explains Vincent Debitus. “Thus, the dog will be able to cool off more easily by lying down, his hair will not be an obstacle. » And if the tiling is not sufficient for its comfort, “there are cooling mats”, reports the veterinary assistant. They are designed to absorb heat and control the temperature of the animal’s body.

A dog and a cat cool off on the tiles of a house. (Illustration: Chendongshan / Getty Images / iStockphoto)

5. Do not leave your dog in the car

It’s also common sense, but the veterinary assistant insists: “You should never leave your dog in the car, even with the windows open and that from 20°C. » Indeed, in a car, “the animal cannot regulate its temperature by its pads”.

6. Pay special attention to white cats

Some animals, especially older ones, are more fragile than others and generally require more attention, and even more so in hot weather. And in the face of the heat waves, “white cats or those of light colors, especially on the extremities, the ears or the nose, are particularly at risk”, points out Vincent Debitus. “Their leather fears UV rays, they can be subject to sunburn. The ideal is therefore that they stay indoors during the day, during the heat peaks that arrive. »

Otherwise, the veterinary assistant has a tip: “There is sunscreen for cats, with a pH adapted to their skin. But it is quite restrictive, it must be applied every two hours. » On the other hand, you should not apply any other sunscreen than those dedicated to cats.

Read also: Can pets get sunburn?

7. Sprinkle some dogs and cats lightly with water

“It is also possible to lightly water dogs of certain breeds, but you have to find out beforehand, continues Vincent Debitus. Indeed, there are breeds of dogs whose hair will not dry well. » As for cats, there too it is case by case. Some love water, others hate it.

8. Watch out for signs of heatstroke

It is not easy to realize that your pet is suffering from a real heatstroke. Nevertheless, there are signs that should alert: “What you have to watch first and foremost is your animal’s breathing. If she’s panting, then you have to worry about it,” specifies the veterinary assistant. And in this case, he advises to react very quickly: “We must immediately take the animal to a veterinary clinic. » And this because the life of the cat or dog is then at stake: “The consequences of a heat stroke are pulmonary or cerebral edema”, he warns.

Read also: How to help birds and small wild animals better withstand the heat wave

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