Beat the heat and keep your pet healthy and happy this summer.
Keep pets cool
With temperatures rising, summer can be an uncomfortable season for our pets. Put yourself in their paws and think how hot you’d feel if you wore a fur coat on a baking hot day!
Here’s our vets’ advice about how to keep your pets cool this summer:
- Walk dogs in the morning or evening – before 8am and after 5pm is best. This stops them overheating in the midday sun.
- Pavements and sand can get very hot in the middle of the day and can burn your dog’s paws. You can check the temperature of the pavement with your own hand – if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your dog.
- Never leave your dog in a hot car – it can be fatal. Find out more here.
- If you’re driving with your dog, make sure they are safely secured in your car. Don’t let them lean out of the window. Their eyes or nose can be injured by debris or small stones kicked up from the road. Pets have also been known to fall out, or be injured by passing vehicles.
- Give long-haired dogs a summer haircut to help keep them cool.
- Make sure your cats have access to shade during the day.
- Don’t leave them in cars, caravans or conservatories – they can quickly overheat.
- Make sure they have access to plenty of clean drinking water throughout the day.
- If your cat has long hair, you can help keep them cool by giving them a summer trim.
Rabbits and guinea pigs
- Don’t leave hutches in direct sunlight.
- Make sure they have a shady area to relax in if they get too hot - their hutch roof must be solid for shade and safety and their exercise run should also have a covered area.
- Never keep your rabbit or guinea pig in a greenhouse or conservatory – they can quickly overheat.
- Make sure they have plenty of clean water throughout the day.
- Leave a glass jar filled with ice cubes, so they have something cool to lie against in hot weather.
- Give pets some shade.
- Keep their cage out of direct sunlight and away from places likely to become hot.
- Make sure your pets’ bottle is topped up with fresh water to help prevent overheating.
- Keep small pets cool by freezing a bottle of water and placing it on the outside of their cage, near their sleeping area. Don’t put it inside their cage because they might get too cold.
Budgies, chickens and fish
- Make sure your feathered friends have plenty of water throughout the day.
- Give your chickens a dust bath – they’ll appreciate the chance to get ‘clean’ in warm weather.
- Make sure your hen house is well ventilated. Putting wire mesh across the windows means your hens can get plenty of fresh air while still being kept safe.
- Treat your chickens for red mite early in the summer as these uninvited guests make them uncomfortable in summer.
- If your hens have any bald patches, they could get sunburn. Use pet-safe sun cream on their bare patches or keep them out of the midday sun.
- Never put your budgie cage close to the window or in direct sunlight – they can quickly overheat.
- Check your fishponds and aquaria. Ensure they have a shaded area as they can get very hot in the summer.
Signs of heatstroke in pets
Just like humans, pets can suffer from heatstroke. In fact, because of their small size and their furry coats, they’re more likely to feel the heat than we are. Keep an eye on your pet for any signs of heatstroke.
Signs of heatstroke in dogs and cats
- excessive panting
- extreme salivation
Signs of heatstroke in rabbits, guinea pigs and small pets
- unusual or extreme tiredness
- shallow, rapid breathing
- unconsciousness or fits.
First Aid for heatstroke
If you think your pet is suffering from heatstroke you can give them life-saving first aid:
- Wrap your pet up in towels soaked in cool - but not ice cold - water and place them near a fan.
- Make sure they have as much cold water to drink as they want.
- With cats and dogs, vigorously massage their legs to help maintain the blood flow.
- Take your pet to your vet, even if they seem to have made a full recovery.
Flystrike in rabbits
Flystrike happens when flies lay their eggs on a rabbit, usually around their bottom. The eggs hatch into maggots which eat their way into the rabbit’s skin. Flystrike can be fatal.
Flies are usually attracted to dirty fur, so it’s important to make sure your rabbit is kept clean:
- Check your rabbit’s bottom at least twice a day: if it’s dirty, clean it gently with a damp cloth.
- Change their bedding regularly.
- If you spot any maggots call your vet as soon as you can.
BBQ hazards for pets
When the temperatures rise, the lure of the barbecue is irresistible. Here are our tips for making sure your BBQ is safe and fun for your pet too:
- Eating barbecue scraps can upset your pet’s stomach – undercooked or fatty food can make them sick so skip the scraps!
- Keep leftovers away from prying paws. Pets might be tempted to raid the bin and our vets often have to operate on pets who have eaten things they shouldn’t, like corn on the cob cores.
- Keep fuel out of reach – it can be fatal for your pet.
- Make sure your pet steers clear from flames and glowing embers which could give them severe burns.
- Prevent pet sunburn by slapping on the sun cream and making sure they’ve got plenty of shade and water. Pets with pale fur are more likely to get sunburn and you can buy special sun creams from pet shops.
- Alcohol is dangerous for pets, so keep your drinks out of reach of thirsty pets.
- Use plastics cups and plates and crockery or glass can easily smash and cause a hazard for pets.
Summer garden safety
We all love to spend time in the garden in the summer months. Here are a few simple precautions to keep our curious companions safe outside:
- Check your garden to make sure it’s pet-friendly.
- Avoid poisonous plants in areas that pets can get to. These include daffodils, lilies, laburnum, cherry laurel, castor oil bush and yew. Check our list of poisonous plants before planting anything new.
- Many pesticides and herbicides can harm pets and other animals. Try safer alternatives, such as pet-friendly slug pellets. If you need to use chemicals, then always follow the instructions – and keep pets away from treated areas for the recommended period. Store any chemicals securely and out of reach of pets.
- Check regularly for hazards like broken glass and sharp stones.
- Make sure bin lids are secure, especially if the bin has any food inside. Curious cats will investigate anything that smells interesting and dogs will probably eat anything that captures their attention.
- Avoid cocoa shell mulches. They are highly poisonous to pets as they contain high levels of theobromine (also found in chocolate). Just a few mouthfuls of mulch could kill a Cocker Spaniel. Avoid these altogether or keep pets away from areas where these are used.
Dangers on the beach
Beaches can be amazing places for dogs to exercise and have fun but it is important for owners to be aware of these possible dangers:
- Temperatures: It may feel cooler in sea breezes, but temperatures can still soar and cause heatstroke. Make sure your dog has constant access to a cool, shaded area and fresh water. Avoid the hottest parts of the day and be ready to head home if your dog has had enough.
- Sea swimming: Not all dogs can swim! Some short legged breeds like corgis find it especially hard and all dogs of any breed will need to learn how to swim. If you don’t know whether your dog can swim, testing it in the sea can be very dangerous.
- Sand: Eating sand deliberately or accidentally can be incredibly dangerous as it impacts in dog’s intestines and causes a blockage. This is an emergency situation and they will require surgery to remove the blockage. Even throwing toys on a beach can cause dogs acidentally swallow sand.
- Seawater: Try not to let your dog drink sea water as it can make them sick. Make sure they have fresh water to drink at all times and rinse them off when you leave the beach or when you get home. This will stop them licking any salt water off their fur and prevent it making their skin sore.
- Tides: Always check tide times before you visit the beach. This will help keep your whole family safe.
- Seaweed: Seaweed stalks can be incredibly dangerous if eaten as they can cause a blockage in your dog’s intestine. Dried seaweed can also cause a problem as it expands when it's eaten.
- Jellyfish: Some types of Jellyfish can give a nasty sting to people and dogs, so check the water before swimming and don’t let dogs investigate washed up jellyfish on the beach.