How to keep pets cool in summer
Hot weather affects our pets differently. As temperatures rise, follow our guide to keep your pets safe in the sun.
Hot weather warnings for pets
- Make sure there's plenty of water available for your furry friends
- Never leave your dog (or any pet) alone in a car – even with the windows open
- Avoid exercising your dog during the heat of the day. If it's very warm or if your dog struggles in the heat, avoid taking them for a walk altogether.
- Small pets will also need plenty of shade and may benefit from being brought indoors in the hot weather
- Animals can suffer fatal heatstroke within minutes. Obvious signs of heatstroke include collapse, excessive panting or breathing heavily, and dribbling. If you suspect your animal is suffering, remove them to a cool place, wet their coat and contact a vet immediately. Avoid overcooling – especially small pets.
- Read on for more advice and tips for keeping your pet cool...
Protecting dogs and cats hot weather
There's lots of advice you can follow to keep your dog and cat comfortable in warm weather. Importantly, they'll need access to clean water at all times, ideally in a large bowl filled to the brim. Older animals, particularly cats, are vulnerable to dehydration. And do not forget your dog needs fresh water if you’re at the beach – drinking seawater is likely to make your dog ill.
Pale-coloured dogs and cats are vulnerable to sunburn, particularly on their ears, noses and sparsely haired areas. Sun damage can lead to skin cancer which may require extensive surgery – even amputation in severe cases.
The best prevention is to keep your pet indoors when the sun is strongest, between 11.00am and 3.00pm. Alternatively, cover vulnerable areas, or regularly apply a sunblock product specifically for pets that does not contain zinc oxide or PABA. Seek prompt veterinary advice if your dog or cat’s skin looks sore, crusty or scaly.
Top tips for keeping your dog or cat cool:
- You can use a misting spray to keep your dog cool, but avoid their face
- Check your pets do not get shut into any hot rooms, sheds or greenhouses
- Brush them regularly to remove hair, and take them to the groomer for a shorter, cooler haircut if needed
- Make some delicious ice treats
Keeping rabbits and other small animals cool in the summer
- Position hutches and runs in the shade, moving them as necessary, and keep them off the ground to improve ventilation
- The best runs have a covered area to provide shade and shelter, but make sure there is sufficient air flow underneath to help keep them cool
- Fresh water should be available around the clock and kept topped up – it will evaporate faster in hot weather
- Explore tips on keeping your pets cool, like using a cooling ceramic tile or covered frozen water bottle
- Give your pet a piece of apple or celery to eat, for added moisture
- Mist your rabbit with cool water to help cool them down. You can also dampen their ears with your wet hands during very hot days.
- Brush your rabbit regularly to help them maintain their coat. Rabbits have a summer moult and the extra fur is prone to matting, which may increase the risk of fly strike.
Look out for fly strike
Rabbits and guinea pigs are more at risk from both heatstroke and flystrike in hot weather.
Fly strike (myiasis) is a nasty condition that occurs when flies lay their eggs on or near rabbits. These hatch into maggots and then feed on the rabbit – causing pain, severe shock, and often death. It’s essential to check both outdoor and indoor rabbits at least twice a day to make sure they’re clean and free from anything that may attract flies.
Keep hutches clean and dry, and disinfect them at least once a week. Repellents, such as Rearguard, may help protect your rabbit. If you find any maggots on or near your rabbit contact your vet immediately.
Horse care in the summer
Ensure your horse has access to a shady area in the field at all times, and is protected from flies. Long manes and tails are a natural fly defence, but if you prefer your horse to have a pulled mane and forelock then you could use a fly fringe or mask – watch out for rubbing though. You may also want to buy a fine-mesh anti-fly rug and a good quality fly repellent.
You should monitor your horse’s weight all year, and be extra vigilant over the summer when there is plenty of grass. Use body scoring and a weigh tape and keep a weekly chart.
If you notice a weight gain then restrict grazing hours and consider using use a well-fitted muzzle for short periods. If you are giving your horse a hard feed, consider reducing it or cutting it out.
- Horses can suffer from sunburn. Protect exposed, unpigmented, white and pink areas of the skin, like the muzzle, with a suitable horse sunblock cream.
- A constant supply of clean, fresh water is essential to prevent dehydration
- A salt lick can help replace nutrients lost through sweating
- Horses’ feet can dry out in warmer weather so keep them well hydrated – your farrier can advise which products to use
- Clipping your horse may keep them more comfortable in the summer weather
• 4 July 2023
• 3 July 2026