Pet safety during summer

Do you know the steps you should be taking to ensure your pet is happy and healthy in spells of hot weather? Learn about the dangers of heatstroke, car travel, poor hydration and more...

Key points:

  • Keep pets in the shade
  • Make sure they stay hydrated
  • Groom cats and dogs appropriately
  • Limit how much exercise they have

When it's hot outside, us humans make sure we're cool, hydrated and protected against the rays of the sun, and it's important to think about the same things when looking after a pet.

Hotter months can be uncomfortable and dangerous for animals, so there are a few ways to make sure that your beloved pet is its usual happy self in hot weather.

How to keep your pet cool during summer


Make sure your pet has a continuous water supply that's kept in the shade and refreshed multiple times a day.

Buy a weighted dish to ensure there are no spills and, if you're taking your animal out of the house, make sure you bring a bowl and water supply along.Dog and cat

Cool your pet down by feeding them tasty ice lollies - simply buy an ice lolly mould, fill it with your dog or cat's favourite tit bits and some animal or vegetable stock, then freeze.

Not only will the lolly cool them down, it'll serve as a tasty treat.

Good grooming

Grooming your pet is important for their health and comfort, and making sure they're well groomed during the summer will help them regulate their temperature.

Speak to a groomer or vet to find out what 's best for your pet - a full shave isn't necessarily the answer, and could result in your pet getting burnt in the sun.

Small mammals

  • Vet Chris Troughton advises owners of rabbits and rodents to ensure their animal has shade and a continuous water supply, which should be regularly replenished

Pack the sun cream

If your pet is light-skinned or doesn't have much or any fur, make sure they're protected from the sun with animal-friendly sun protection - your vet may recommend a suitable product.

Pay particular attention to vulnerable areas such as their ears and nose.

Get the hose out

If your pet isn't averse to a bit of water, they might enjoy being cooled down with a hose or sprinkler.

Observe your pet to see how they react to a hose or running water beforehand, as any undue stress or panic can cause animals to get hot.

Stay shady

If your animal is out in the sunshine, make sure there's an easily accessible shady area for them to seek shelter under when the heat gets too much.


  • Ensure fish tanks are kept out of direct sunlight and top up the water levels of ponds

Alternatively, keep them indoors in a well-ventilated, cool room.

Limit exercise

Take care when exercising your pet on warmer days.

Adjust the frequency and duration of exercise with the temperature, and limit activity to the early morning or evening when the temperature's cooler.

Check medication

If your pet is currently taking any medication for a pre-existing condition, ensure that this doesn't prevent them from being in the sun.Rabbits

Check with a vet if you're unsure.

Pets in cars

We all know that you should never leave your dog alone in a car - not even for a short period.

When it's 22C (72F) outside, the temperature inside a car can reach 47C (117F) within 60 minutes.

While dogs pant to keep cool, in hot, stuffy cars they can't cool down.

Leaving a window open or putting a sunshield on windscreens won't be sufficient to keep your car cool, and your dog could die if left alone in a car.

Heatstroke occurs when dogs can't lower their body temperature.

Did you know...?

  • Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer found in dogs

Some canines are more prone to heatstroke than others - for example older dogs, larger dogs and long-haired ones.

Chris Troughton, clinical director of Heath Vets in Cardiff, says that pet owners should be reminded that dogs can suffer heatstroke in a variety of circumstances.

"Dogs can get distressed and overheated, and it's important to take precautions and always have water available," said Troughton.

"If your dog is panting despite not having exercised, it probably means they're too hot.

"If they're looking uncomfortable with their breathing, they probably need cooling down - don't wait for a crisis to develop."

If you think your dog may be suffering heatstroke, make sure they're in the shade and have access to water, then immediately ring a vet. Read more about travelling with pets in our guide.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Animals (RSPCA) advises owners to look out for a number of symptoms:Labrador

  • Heavy panting
  • Profuse salivation
  • Rapid pulse
  • Very red gums/tongue
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of co-ordination
  • Reluctance/inability to rise after collapsing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Loss of consciousness

By Emily Bater