While we set up the paddling pools, lay out the sun loungers and douse ourselves in sun cream, it’s important to remember that our pets can find this sort of weather very uncomfortable and may need some extra attention and care while temperatures soar.
The RSPCA has published some very useful advice about keeping your pets cool during the heatwave, including where best to keep your pets and tips on what to use to cool them down.
Here’s everything you need to know.
Never leave animals in cars, conservatories, outbuildings or caravans on a warm day, even if it's just for a short while. When it's 22°C outside, temperatures can quickly rise to 47°C (117°F) in these environments which can be deadly.
You can also keep your pets safe by using a pet-safe sun cream on exposed parts of your pets skin, and of course, by providing plenty of access to shade and constant access to fresh water. It's also worth checking pets regularly for flystrike.
You can also help your pets cool down by putting ice cubes in their water bowl or by providing damp towels for them to lie on.
The RSPCA is urging people to carefully plan their outings this summer to avoid their dogs getting heatstroke. Dogs must never be left alone in a car on a warm day as the consequences can be severe and even fatal.
A statement reads: “Many people still believe that it's ok to leave a dog in a car on a warm day if the windows are left open or they're parked in the shade, but the truth is, it's still a very dangerous situation for the dog.
“A car can become as hot as an oven very quickly, even when it doesn't feel that warm. When it's 22 degrees, in a car it can reach an unbearable 47 degrees within the hour.”
Anyone who witnesses a dog left in a car on a hot day should dial 999 – the police can inform the RSPCA if animal welfare assistance is needed.
If the situation becomes critical for the dog and the police are too far away or unable to attend, many people's instinct will be to break into the car to free the dog. If you decide to do this, the RSPCA says you must be aware that without proper justification, this could be classed as criminal damage and, potentially, you may need to defend your actions in court.
Make sure you tell the police what you intend to do and why. Take pictures or videos of the dog and the names and numbers of witnesses to the incident. The law states that you have a lawful excuse to commit damage if you believe that the owner of the property that you damage would consent to the damage if they knew the circumstances.
Once removed, if the dog is displaying signs of heatstroke, follow RSPCA emergency first aid advice. This could mean the difference between life and death for the dog.
If the dog is not displaying signs of heatstroke, make sure you check to see if there is a pay and display ticket on show so you can establish how long it has been there. Make a note of the registration number in case you need it for future correspondence, and if you are in a shop or venue it may be worth asking someone to make an announcement for the owners to come back to the car.
If possible, get someone to stay with the dog to monitor their condition. If they begin to display signs of distress or heatstroke, be prepared to dial 999.
You can contact the RSPCA 24-hour cruelty line on 0300 1234 999, but it is always best to call the police in an emergency situation.
Walking dogs in summer:
Dogs need exercise, even when it's hot. The RSPCA recommends walking your dog in the morning or evening when it's cooler to reduce the risk of heatstroke and burning their paws on the pavement.
It also recommends trying the ‘five-second test’. If it’s too hot for you to keep your hands on the pavement for this long then it is too hot for your dog’s paws on a walk.
If your dog’s paws look a little darker than usual, red and blistered, or they are limping or licking at their paws a lot, it could be sign they have been burnt.
To avoid heatstroke, the RSPCA also advises brushing the excess fur off your dog regularly and letting it play with frozen doors and in cool water, such as sprinklers or a small paddling pool. (This can be the same for other pets too!).
The RSPCA recommends checking outhouses and sheds before locking them up in case a cat is taking shelter inside.
For pets like rabbits and rodents, it also recommends freezing a semi-full plastic bottle of water and wrapping it in a towel so pets can lie against it. For small rodents place it on the outside of their enclosure. It’s safest not to put it into rabbits’ or guinea pigs’ shelters or directly in small rodents’ enclosures in case it leaks.
Animals also need to be regularly groomed to avoid becoming too hot and need plenty of shade, with windows left open in the house.