Heatwave: How do I keep my pets safe in the sun?

Credit: PA Images

Whether it is a welcomed bath to keep your dog cool, or your cat eating an iced treat, here's some great advice for keeping your pets safe in the heat.

The Dogs Trust offers a number of tips for keeping your pet happy and healthy in warm weather:

  • Provide shade and water - Make sure your dog has access to shade and plenty of fresh water throughout the day

  • Walkies: Plan the best time to do it - Walk your dog in the early morning or late in the evening when temperatures are cooler. This will reduce their risk of heatstroke. Be particularly careful if your dog is old, overweight or suffers from breathing difficulties. Exercise is the most common trigger for heat-related illness, so take care not to overexert your dog.

  • Do the seven second tarmac test - Tarmac can get very hot in the sun and could burn your dog’s paws. Check the pavement with your hand before letting your dog walk on it — hold your hand down for seven seconds, if it's too hot for you, then it's too hot for your dog's paws. 

  • Don't let them get burnt - Keep your dog out of direct sunlight where you can. Use pet-safe sun cream on exposed parts of your dog’s skin, like the tips of their ears and nose. Ask your vet for more advice if needed.

  • Think twice about any car trips with your dog - If you do have to travel with your dog, plan your journey. Consider travelling at cooler times of the day, identify places to take breaks, and avoid congested roads or busy times of day when you could get caught in traffic. Never leave your dog in a vehicle. In just 20 minutes, a dog could die in a hot car. Winding a window down is not enough to help your dog stay cool. 

Pugs enjoying the sun on a morning walk Credit: ITV Weather

Cats Protection also offers advice for our feline friends:

  • Provide plenty of shade inside and out - a cardboard box can make a useful sunshade. Many cats love soaking up the sun but overexposure can lead to skin cancer.

  • If your cat has white fur, try keeping them inside between 11am and 3pm, when the sun is at its hottest. Speak to a vet about suitable sunscreen for cats, to ensure they don’t suffer from sunburn.

  • Keeping your cat cool inside your home is important too. Place fans around the house to keep the air circulating, remembering not to point the fan directly at your cat.

  • Another handy tip is to freeze a bottle of water, wrap it in a towel or pillowcase and place it somewhere your cat goes regularly. This stops them from feeling overheated during hotter spells. Make sure that your cat can get away from the bottle if they choose.

  • Make sure your cat keeps hydrated - avoid plastic bowls that can taint the taste of the water, keep them away from food bowls, keep the water topped up and maybe buy a cat fountain as they may prefer running water. You might also spread water bowls around the house so your cat has easy access.

George from Taunton is looking a little hot - owners of white cats have to be careful about sunburn. Credit: Kate Tebbutt

You can also find out how to help wildlife in the hot weather by visiting the Countryfile magazine.