Hot weather tips for pets

Now that we’re well and truly into summer, it seems like a good time to share some advice to see your pets safely through the coming weeks.


We all know that dogs can die when left alone in hot cars, and yet recent weeks have seen a spate of such cases. PLEASE do not leave your pet alone in a vehicle, no matter how quick you think you are going to be.
If you do see a dog in distress in a parked car, the RSPCA’s advice is to call the Police on 999 (it is a genuine emergency). If the Police are unable to attend, you should call the RSPCA’s 24-hour cruelty line, 0300 1234 999, and make a personal decision about taking responsibility for breaking into the vehicle which is currently not legal in the UK.
There is plenty more detailed information regarding other practical steps you can take to help.

Heatstroke can be very rapidly fatal for pets, and you can help avoid it by following the advice below:

  • Always ensure that your dogs can move to a cooler, ventilated environment if you are leaving them at home.
  • Never leave dogs alone in cars, glass conservatories or caravans, even if it’s cloudy.
  • Always provide good supplies of drinking water, in a weighted bowl that can’t be knocked over.
  • Carry water with you on hot days.
  • Groom dogs regularly to get rid of excess hair. Give long-coated breeds a haircut at the start of summer.
  • Never allow dogs to exercise excessively in hot weather – walk dogs in the morning or evening – before 8am and after 5pm is best. Not only will this prevent them overheating in the daytime sun, but road surfaces, pavements and sand can burn paws when hot.
  • Dogs can get sunburned – particularly those with light-coloured noses and fur. Ask your vet for pet-safe sunscreen.
  • If you have a small furry pet, such as a hamster or gerbil, put a nearly full plastic bottle of water into your freezer and, when frozen, wrap it in a towel and place by the side of the cage, next to the sleeping area, to keep it cool. It’s not a good idea to put the bottle in the cage as it can cause leaks and make the pet too cold. Putting two in the freezer means you’ll always have one available.
  • Provide plenty of shade whilst rabbits and guinea pigs are in their runs. A covered enclosure is ideal.
  • Fishponds and aquaria can get very hot in the summer – check regularly and make sure the pond has a shaded area where fish can shelter

Dogs are particularly susceptible to heatstroke; longhaired breeds, brachycephalic breeds, old and young animals are most at risk.

The signs can include any or all of the following:

  • Heavy panting
  • Profuse salivation
  • Rapid pulse
  • Very red gums and tongue
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of coordination
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Loss of consciousness

If your pet does become affected, it’s important to act quickly in order to lower the body temperature gradually, before taking him / her to see a vet:

  • Douse with cool (not cold) water – you could use a shower, or gentle hose spray and place your pet in the breeze of a fan.
  • Offer small amounts of cool water to drink if conscious enough to drink – but do not force this!
Heat stroke can be rapidly fatal - PLEASE do not risk it!

Heat stroke can be rapidly fatal – PLEASE do not risk it!

Grass seeds

These irritants are very sharp at one end, which means that they can easily become embedded in your pet’s skin or ears, causing significant damage. Always remember to check your dog’s paws and ears after summer walks.

Harvest mites

The larvae of these mites are tiny (just 0.2mm long) yet these orange/yellow insects can trigger allergies and skin disease in susceptible animals. Contact your vet for further advice if you think your pet is affected.

Bites and stings

Inquisitive dogs and cats can easily get more than they bargained for when chasing insects or sniffing in undergrowth, and a sting on the nose is very painful! As you probably know, if a bee stings your pet, the barbed sting will remain in your pet’s skin and must be removed. The best way to do this is by gently scraping it with a flat object such as a bank card (tweezers may squeeze additional venom out of the stinger). Bathe the affected area with a mix of water and bicarbonate of soda and apply an ice pack if your pet will stay still long enough!

Wasp stings are not left behind, and because they are alkaline, the area affected should be bathed with vinegar or lemon juice to neutralise the sting, with an ice pack then applied to the area.

Snake bites. The adder is the only venomous snake found in the UK – adults are around 60cm long and have brown-black zigzag patterns along their backs, with a V shape on their heads. If you suspect that a snake has bitten your pet, contact your vet immediately.

Until next time very best wishes,

The Ralph Site, non-profit pet loss support

Please note: The Ralph Site is not affiliated with the third-party organisations in any of the links shared here, and the views, ideas and suggestions expressed in this and other blogs are simply shared with the intention of helping you, our friends, take care of the special animals in your lives.

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