Summer hazards for pets

by PDSA | 27 August 2021 #Lifestyle

Summer is an exciting, fun-filled time for pets and their owners, but the warmer months also present certain hazards for our four legged friends. From heatstroke and sunburn, to insect bites and flystrike, it’s important to protect your pets from summer-related dangers so they can enjoy the warm weather alongside you!

Here are some of the most common summer hazards for dogs, cats, rabbits and small pets.



Warm, sunny days are lovely, but too much heat can be extremely dangerous for our canine companions – especially for flat face breeds and overweight dogs, who find it more difficult to cool themselves down. During hot weather, it’s important to give your doggy plenty of shade and water to drink, and make sure they go for walkies during the cooler times in the day. It’s also important to avoid extreme exercise, such as running or games of fetch. If you notice any signs of heatstroke, contact your vet immediately.


Glorious as it may be, when the sun is shining, any exposed skin on your dog’s body is at risk of sunburn. Fortunately, fur protects most of your dog, but any bald patches, or areas of exposed skin is at risk of burning. Make sure you protect your dog from the sun with a pet-safe sunscreen, paying particular attention to any exposed skin on their ears, nose, tummy and legs.

Blue green algae

Swimming is one of the joys of warm weather and is a great way to cool your pup down, but it’s important to check the water is safe before you let your pooch dip their paws. Blue green algae is a dangerous bacteria that grows in stagnant water during warm weather. It’s important to know how to recognise blue green algae because it can be deadly if it’s swallowed, and it’s not always obvious unless you know what you’re looking for.


It’s not just us that enjoy the warmer weather – bugs and parasites thrive too, which is why you’re much more likely to find a tick attached to your pooch in the summer. Ticks are unlikely to cause any problems if they are removed quickly and properly, but some carry diseases such as ‘Lyme disease’ which can cause illness in dogs. One way to protect your pooch from ticks is to stick to paths and open areas without long grass. If you live in an area that is known for ticks, it’s sensible to speak to your vet about tick treatments or repellents.

Insect bites and stings

Wasp whacking, bee biting, and horse fly hounding is a dog’s idea of a good time, however, unfortunately for them, it often ends in a sting! Whether it’s their paw or their mouth, the sting site is likely to become red, swollen and painful. If you think your dog has been bitten or stung, contact you vet for advice. Most stings aren’t serious, but if your dog is allergic, swelling rapidly, or their breathing is affected, it’s important to act quickly!

Snake bites

Dogs are curious creatures and often explore the world with a nose-first approach, which can result in a bite if they come across a sunbathing snake! Luckily, two out of the three species of snake in the UK are non-venomous, but if your curious canine disturbs an adder, the outcome is likely to be a bit more serious. Adders are venomous, which means their bite can cause serious illness – if your doggy is bitten you should contact your vet immediately.




Our lazy little lions are fantastic at taking it easy in the summer, so they’re much less likely to suffer from heatstroke than dogs. However, if your feline is fluffy, or flat-faced, they might find it more challenging to stay cool. It’s important to check before closing up any enclosed spaces such as sheds, greenhouses and conservatories, just in case a curious cat has snuck in for a nap!


Cats have fur to naturally protect most of their body, but too many rays can still result in sunburn. Their ear tips, noses and eyelids tend to be much more exposed, and on hot days should be protected with a pet-safe sunscreen. It’s especially important to protect your cat from the sun if they are white, ginger, hairless or have a particularly thin coat because they are much more likely to burn, and potentially develop a skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma.


The summer months can mean more time spent in long grass, and more chance of picking up pesky parasites such as fleas and ticks. After a day exploring, always give your cat a quick check to make sure they haven’t picked up any little critters on their travels, and if they are prone to ticks, it’s worth talking to your vet about repellent options. If ticks are removed, quickly and properly, they don’t often cause any ongoing problems.

Insect bites and stings

Cats are predators, and often practice their skills by catching flying insects. Flies are harmless, but wasps and bees often ‘bite back’ with a nasty sting. If you notice your feline friend has a fat paw, swollen chin, or a painful mouth, it’s worth giving your vet a call for advice. Most stings and bites aren’t serious, but important to act quickly if your cats tongue or throat is swelling, or if they are having trouble breathing.

Snake bites

Our feline friends tend to be cautious around snakes so are unlikely to get bitten. However, if your cat is bitten by a venomous adder on one of their outings, the outcome could be serious. Contact your vet immediately if you think your cat has been bitten by a snake.




The summer is a fabulous time for our bunnies, but the warm weather can also bring the risk of heatstroke, so it’s important to keep your bunnies cool. This is especially important for flat faced, long haired, and overweight bunnies that might find it a bit more difficult to regulate their body temperature. Make sure to provide constant access to fresh, cold water, plenty of shade, and somewhere breezy to relax!


Most bunnies avoid sunburn by relaxing in the shade during the hottest parts of the day, however, they’re still at risk of sunburn. Your rabbits’ fur will protect most of their body, but any bald patches or areas of thin/patchy fur are likely to turn pink in the sun! Protect your big-eared friend by giving them constant access to shade and applying pet-safe sunscreen, paying particular attention to their ears, nose and any bald patches of skin.


Sharing their living space with flies puts your bunnies at a high risk of flystrike – a serious and potentially fatal illness. Flystrike develops if a fly lays its eggs on your rabbit’s fur, which then hatch into maggots, and bury themselves under the skin. Flystrike tends to develop in rabbits with a mucky bottom, or a mucky home, which is why it’s so important to check your rabbits daily, and clean their living space at least every other day. It’s also sensible to apply an insecticidal spray/solution to your rabbits’ throughout the summer as a prevention.


Small furries


The summer can heat our houses up significantly, putting our small pets at risk of heatstroke. From rats, to guinea pigs, hamsters to degus, chinchillas to mice and gerbils, it’s important to make sure that all of your pets are able to enjoy the summer and stay comfortable in their living space. Pop their home in a cool room, without direct sunlight, give them plenty of ventilation, and constant access to fresh, cold drinking water. Never leave them in a conservatory, shed, greenhouse, porch, or anywhere else that is likely to get hot.

Read our information about keeping your pet safe at home in the summertime.

Share this article on:  PDSA | 27 August 2021


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