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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Oliver Lewis

Ice cream van helps dogs stay cool serving up frozen treats


An ice cream van serving frozen treats for dogs is touring the UK, helping the nation’s pets and their owners prepare for the rumoured heatwave later this month.

The van is currently rolling through 10 towns and cities across the UK – including Bristol, Great Yarmouth and Derby – to dish out dog-friendly frozen yoghurts free of charge.

Hosted by Pets at Home, the take on the traditional vehicle will have experts onboard to help owners understand the best ways to keep their beloved pups cool and relaxed when temperatures are high.

It comes after research found 63 per cent of dog owners worry about their four-legged friend overheating, but 41 per cent don’t know how to safely help them cope in the heat.

To try to keep them cool, 35 per cent would let them swim in open water and 21 per cent would pour ice cold water over their head, feet and toes - two approaches pet experts advise against.

An expert from Pets at Home, which commissioned the research of 2,000 dog owners, said: “We love our pets and want to do the right thing by them.

"But it’s clear from this research that many owners aren’t sure on the best way to help keep their dogs cool during hot summer weather.

“Dogs don’t sweat like humans and instead cool themselves down by panting – but on really hot days, they’re likely to need extra help to bring their temperature down and avoid overheating.

"The best way to do this is to make sure they have cooling mats, and shaded areas and that they’re regularly drinking cool water. It’s fine to cool this using ice.

“There’s lots of ways we can support owners in keeping their pets safe this summer, and we’re excited to meet many of them while onboard our ice cream van – not only to give them and their dogs treats but share invaluable advice too.”

The research also revealed many owners would struggle to spot if their dog was overheating, with 25 per cent admitting they couldn’t identify the symptoms.

Only 38 per cent correctly named ‘confusion’ as a sign, with upset tummies (31 per cent) and bright red or pale gums (19 per cent) also highlighted as key heatstroke indicators.

Thankfully, owners do understand some of the steps you can take to keep dogs cool, with 70 per cent keeping them out of hot conservatories or rooms, and 60 per cent give them cooling mats to lie on.

During the summer months, 78 per cent will only walk their four-legged friends in the early morning or evening to miss the day’s hottest temperatures, yet only 65 per cent will take routes that avoid hot pavements to protect their pup’s paws.

On average, dog owners will stop going on their usual walks when the temperature hits 24°C, according to the study.

When it comes to car journeys with their pooch, 56 per cent will only travel at cooler times in the day and 55 per cent take extra water breaks so their pet can rehydrate.

Despite the increased health dangers, 57 per cent don’t take their pet to the park any less than they typically would if the weather is warmer, and only 19 per cent apply pet-friendly sun cream.

Five top tips to keep your pets cool in hot weather

1. Know the signs of heatstroke

Heatstroke can develop rapidly so it’s important to know the signs to look out for, including rapid breathing or panting, lethargy and any odd behaviour.

2. Keep them hydrated

Ice cubes are great for keeping pets hydrated so try popping some in their water bowl if it gets really hot, but make sure they are an appropriate size and you supervise them while they’re enjoying their treat.

3. Bring the shade

If you’re going out for the day, consider bringing a windbreak or pop-up tent so they have somewhere to lie down out of direct sunshine and take plenty of fresh water with you.

4. Watch out for hot surfaces

Make sure to check the surface temperature with the back of your hand before letting your pet wander and always look for natural grass as the artificial type can heat up rapidly in hot weather. On really hot days it’s best to stick only to shaded areas where it’s much cooler.

5. Don’t forget pet-friendly sun cream

If your pet is going to be spending a lot of time outdoors, it’s a good idea to apply some pet friendly sun cream which has specifically been designed for them to help protect their skin.

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