Follow our tips for keeping pets safe and happy in hot weather and make sure they enjoy summer too.
How to take care of a dog on hot days
Taking care of dogs during the summer can sometimes be tricky, particularly if they get overexcited and love playing. Bear in mind that if your dog loves running around and chasing a ball, they’re sometimes not sensible enough to know when to stop!
It’s easy for dogs to overheat, since they don’t sweat like humans do when they’re hot. Instead, they pant and use their paw pads and nose to release heat and keep cool.
Make sure your dog has plenty of fresh water. Adding ice cubes to their water bowl will also help. Always make sure they have access to shade and use specially-formulated pet sun cream on their nose, ear tips and other exposed areas of skin when they’re in the sun.
Walking dogs in hot weather
Your dog will probably still want to go for a walk, even on hot days. To keep them as comfortable as possible, it’s best to head out early in the morning or later in the evening, when the weather is cooler.
When you’re out walking, you should be aware of how hot the pavement is. Black tarmac can get very hot in the sun and dogs’ paw pads burn easily. As a rule, if you can’t touch it with your hand for five seconds, your dog won’t be able to walk on it without getting burnt.
If you want to know how to cool your dog down, you could take them for a swim if that’s something they enjoy. It’s also very good exercise, making it a great alternative to going for a walk.
When your dog is in the sea, try to make sure they don’t drink too much seawater as it isn’t good for them. And if they’re swimming in fresh water like a lake or river, make sure it’s clean and check for strong currents before they jump in.
Can dogs get heatstroke?
In short, yes – dogs can definitely get heatstroke. Heat exhaustion in dogs can come on in a matter of minutes and symptoms of heatstroke in dogs only occur when they’re already quite unwell. For this reason, it’s important to do everything you can to prevent it from happening in the first place.
You shouldn’t leave a dog in a car on a sunny day for this very reason. Even if it doesn’t seem very hot outside, it can soon become unbearable in the car. If the temperature outside is 22°C, it’ll reach 47°C in the car within an hour. Leaving a dog in a car is just not worth doing, even if you think you’re only going to be a couple of minutes.
If you think your dog has heatstroke, you should move them somewhere cool and breezy and wet their fur with cool water. Call your vet for advice immediately.
How to keep cats cool in summer
Knowing how to look after cats in hot weather is also important, although cats are often more sensible than dogs! As with dogs, it’s vital that cats always have enough fresh water.
As much as many cats love to stretch out in the warmth of the sun, they also need to be able to get out of direct sunlight if they choose to. Make sure there’s a shady spot for your cat to relax in when they want.
Make sure your cat doesn’t accidentally get shut in the shed or greenhouse when you close them up at night. They can become very hot in the sun and usually don’t offer much ventilation. The same goes for your conservatory.
Cats can also benefit from pet-specific sun cream, especially those with lighter coloured fur.
We know dogs and cats aren’t the only pets people keep, so we also have some quick tips for other animals:
- Make sure all animals have access to plenty of clean water.
- Don’t keep animals in direct sunlight. If they live outside, they should have access to shaded areas (this includes in ponds).
- Make sure ponds and fish tanks are kept topped up and carry out water changes regularly in fish tanks.
- Make sure outdoor animals are kept in well-ventilated houses.
- Avoid transporting animals such as horses on hot days, unless it can be done early in the morning or later in the evening.
You should also take a look at our guide to looking after pets in cold weather to make sure you’ve covered all eventualities!