Sun Awareness Week 14-20 May

15 May 2018

PDSA's advice on keeping pets safe over summer

During Sun Awareness Week (14 - 20 May), veterinary charity PDSA is urging owners to keep their pets safe in the sun, to protect them from dangerous conditions such as heatstroke and cancer.

PDSA vet, Olivia Anderson-Nathan, said: “Although we might be aware of the risks of the sun to ourselves, many owners are unaware that our pets face the same dangers of sunburn, heatstroke and even skin cancer.

“Heatstroke, for example, can have devastating consequences. Bear in mind on a hot day that dogs can’t control their body temperature the way we can. They are wearing a fur coat, and as they only have sweat glands in their paws they mainly cool down through panting, which isn’t very effective.

“One of the most dangerous causes of heatstroke or hyperthermia is leaving pets inside a vehicle during warm or hot weather. But leaving them in the garden for too long without shade, or taking them for a walk during the hottest part of the day, can also be very dangerous. Any dog can get heatstroke, but this is especially important for owners of flat-faced, overweight or chronically ill dogs to consider, as they will be at even greater risk.”

The temperature inside cars during warm weather can rapidly soar, leaving pets inside at risk of suffering fatal heatstroke.  The charity warns that common measures like parking in the shade or keeping the windows open are not effective, as temperatures inside the car can still sky-rocket in these circumstances.Exposure to heat and direct sunlight can cause serious cases of heatstroke and excessive sun exposure can even cause skin cancer in some unlucky pets with light-coloured fur, which affords even less protection from the UV rays.

PDSA vets are urging owners to take extra care over the coming months to keep their beloved four-legged friends safe.


PDSA tips for pet safety in the sun

  • Limit your pet’s exposure to direct sunlight, especially during the hottest part of the day.
  • Use a pet-safe sun cream recommended by your vet, especially on pets with white or thin fur, focusing on the nose and ears.
  • If you see unexplained sores or ulcers on your pets’ skin, see a vet urgently. Early diagnosis and treatment may save your pet’s life.
  • Never leave pets in cars, conservatories or caravans, even for a short time. Even on a cloudy day with the windows open, the temperature can soar dangerously high in just a few minutes, which can cause fatal heatstroke. ‘Not long’ is too long.
  • Avoid exercising pets during the hottest hours of the day. Instead, go out early in the morning or in the evening. Keep strenuous exercise to a minimum and give them constant access to cool, indoor areas.
  • Make sure your pets always have access to fresh water.

PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information.

For more tips on how to keep your pet safe this summer visit

Sun safety

Read our vet's top tips on keeping your furry friend safe in the sun and how to protect them against skin cancer.

Safe in the sun


Just like us, our pets can suffer a variety of heat-related illnesses. Read our top tips on preventing heatstroke