How to keep your dog and other pets cool in the heat, and what not to do
Don’t walk your dog in the heat of midday. Dogs can struggle to keep cool in high temperatures and are vulnerable to overheating. This is because they can’t sweat and rely on panting to cool their body temperature. Flat-faced breeds such as English or French bulldogs and pugs are at even greater risk, as they have a short muzzle that can make breathing difficult. Stick to early morning or late evening walks.
Never leave a dog, or any animal, in a car, trailer, conservatory or shed on a hot or even warm day. Being locked in a car for just a few minutes can be fatal to a pet.
Don’t put hutches or cages in direct sunlight at any time of day. Rabbits and guinea pigs cannot sweat or pant to regulate their body temperature and cool down.
What to do
A tarmac test Place the palm of your hand on the ground for five seconds before taking a dog out for a walk. If it feels too hot for you, it’s too hot for a dog’s paws.
Make sure your pet has adequate shade. Provide extra shade to guinea pigs by covering the top of wire mesh runs with damp towels.
Give all pets constant access to fresh water. You can even put ice cubes in their water bowl.
Provide a cool place to rest. This can include damp towels to lie on, although don’t place a damp towel over your dog as this can trap in heat.
Use sunscreen. Some breeds of cats and dogs, particularly those with lighter-colored or finer fur, may also benefit from sunscreens, especially on the ear tips, which are prone to sunburn.
Watch out for early signs of heatstroke. In dogs, these include heavy panting, drooling, restlessness, bright red or very pale gums, and lack of coordination. Signs of heatstroke in rabbits include drooling, salivating, lethargy, short and shallow breaths, red and warm ears, wet nose and seizures.
If you suspect heatstroke or any other heat-related condition, take your pet to a cool, well-ventilated place. Give it small amounts of cool (not ice-cold) water to drink, and pour room temperature water over it to cool it down. Seek immediate advice from your vet.
Check sheds, greenhouses and summerhouses before closing them up. Cats like cozy spots but they risk getting too hot or dehydrated if they get trapped.
Groom your cat or dog regularly. Regular grooming in warmer weather can help brush away any dead or excess hair, leaving your cat or dog with a less thick coat, which will help them stay cool.