A charity is warning animal owners to keep them safe during the forecasted heatwave expected to blanket the country over the next several days.
The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) is warning that animals can become dehydrated and overheat quickly, so it is important for owners to be aware of the signs of overheating.
These signs include excessive breathing, increased heart rate, dry or pale gums and weakness or if they collapse. To avoid overheating, it is vital not to overexert animals, make sure they always have access to fresh water and are out of the sun.
ISPCA spokesperson Carmel Murray said: "Pet owners often think leaving a car window open a little is sufficient for their pet but this is not enough to prevent heatstroke under intense sunshine which can have fatal consequences.
“If your pet is showing signs of severe overheating, move your pet to a cooler area immediately, spray with cool, not cold water, and give a small drink of water and contact your vet straight away.
“Cats should also have their ears and noses covered in sun block that is sensitive to their needs. If they are not cancers do have the possibility of developing.
“Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s hot or humid outdoors. Be careful not to over-exercise them, and keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot. They can over-heat internally quite quickly and their organs can be damaged.”
Ms Murray pointed out that it is important to know the symptoms of overheating in pets, which include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse.
Symptoms can also include seizures, bloody diarrhoea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature.
“Animals with flat faces, like pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.
Ms Murray added that sun creams, insect repellant, weed killer are extremely dangerous to pets if they are ingested and need to be stored securely. “If pets do ingest any of these, immediate help should be sought from a veterinary surgeon.
“Remember that food and drink commonly found at barbeques can be poisonous to pets. Keep alcoholic beverages away from pets, as they can cause intoxication, depression and comas.
“Similarly, remember that the snacks enjoyed by your human friends should not be a treat for your pet; any change of diet, even for one meal, may give your dog or cat severe digestive ailments. Avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol.”
Other important points to remember that pet owners should feel free to trim longer hair on a dog, but never shave them. “The layers of dogs’ coats protect them from overheating and sunburn.
"Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat. And be sure that any sunscreen or insect repellent product you use on your pets is labeled specifically for use on animals.
“When the temperature is very high, don’t let your dog linger on hot asphalt. Being so close to the ground, your pet’s body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. Keep walks during these times to a minimum.
"When it comes to farm animals water supply and shade are vitally important while also being aware of heat stress and how to handle them as they can react differently in hot weather."