A myth-busting guide to keeping your pets safe (and cool) this summer

4 minute read

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Most of us love it when temperatures soar, but our pets can struggle in hot weather. We’re on a myth-busting mission to help keep your pets safe throughout summer.

Global temperatures are reaching record highs and, even if we love a heatwave, our pets can struggle in hot weather. With British summers breaking records and thermometers hitting 40°C, we’re here to help you keep your furry friends safe, happy and healthy, busting myths and misconceptions along the way.

MYTH 1: Dogs and cats both sweat to regulate their body temperatures

Although cats are pretty good at regulating their body temperature, neither cats nor dogs sweat like humans - in fact, they only sweat from their paw pads. When overheated, they instead rely on panting, but you can ensure you keep pets cool by providing shelter from the sun and ensuring they stay hydrated. Placing their usual bed in a shaded spot with a few toys may help to encourage them out of the sun.

MYTH 2: If my pet is suffering from heatstroke, I should place a damp towel over them

Placing a damp towel over your pet can be dangerous in extreme heat. The damp towel can warm up and actually trap the heat in, so instead, you should place a damp cloth under your pet, so it can cool them from beneath. If you suspect your pet is suffering from heatstroke, call a vet immediately.

MYTH 3: My dog will be ok alone in the car if I open the window or park in the shade

If you’re travelling in the car with your dog in hot weather, it’s important to make sure they don’t overheat. Even when the outside temperature appears to be a reasonable level, it can get much hotter inside a parked car – making it extremely dangerous for a dog. Neither parking in the shade, nor keeping the windows open are enough, so do ensure your dog isn’t left alone in your car to keep them safe.

MYTH 4: My pets paws will protect them from hot roads and pavements

Cats are pretty good at regulating their body temperature, but neither cats nor dogs sweat like we do. Although they can sweat from their paw pads, they rely on panting to keep them cool. You can help keep your pet safe by providing shelter from the sun and making sure they drink plently of water. Keeping their bed in a shaded spot with a few toys may encourage them out of the sun. Remember to check the temperature of the pavement with the back of your hand for a few seconds. If it’s too painful for your hands, it’s too hot for your pet’s paws.

MYTH 5: Dogs don’t need sun cream like humans do

Well… part-true - it’s important you never try to put human sun cream on your pet, however, nowadays you can get pet-safe sun cream, which should be applied to the exposed parts of their skin on sunny days, including the tips of their ears and nose. This is particularly important if your pet has light or white fur.

Summer care tips and tricks for your furry friends

Now we’ve cleared up a few common myths, here are a few more tips and tricks to keep everyone happy in the heat.

1. Hydration station

It’s important to keep your pet’s water topped up with cool, fresh water at all times. You can also add some ice cubes to their water bowl if it’s particularly hot and encourage them to drink more by raising the bowl off the floor. It can be trickier to encourage cats to drink than dogs, so for a helping hand, try switching them to wet food, or mixing water into their dry food for a little extra hydration.

2. Put out the paddling pool

There’s nothing better than a dip in the water on a hot day and it’s no different for dogs - just make sure the water’s not too deep for them.

3. Keep them well-groomed

Excess fur will make it harder for your pet to cool down on a hot day so keep up to date with regular brushing to keep them comfortable and cool.

4. Keep clear of the conservatory

It’s not only the car that can be a dangerous place on a hot day - temperatures can rise rapidly in conservatories too, so keep these areas closed in hot weather to stop pets wandering in.

5. Let the air in

Open the windows and doors at home to let fresh air flow through and keep the house from feeling stuffy.

6. A cooling spritz

As dogs control their inner temperature through their feet, spraying water on their paws or dipping them in a tub of cold water can help to cool them down.

7. Encourage them to sleep downstairs

As heat rises, your pet will be much cooler if they sleep downstairs at night. Tiled or laminate flooring makes a big difference as it gives them a nice cool surface to sleep on.

How to spot heat stroke in pets

As well as knowing how best to provide general care for our pets in summer, it’s equally as important to recognise the signs of heat stroke, as this is one of the most serious issues pets can face in sunny weather and high temperatures.

Signs of heatstroke in dogs

If your dog's looking hot and distressed inside the house, there are several things you can do to help them cool down.

  • Heavy panting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Signs of distress
  • Foaming at the mouth 
  • Red gums 
  • Increased heart rate 
  • Drowsiness 
  • Lack of coordination 
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhoea 
  • Tremors or seizures 
  • Collapsing 

Older dogs and very young dogs are more at risk of suffering heat stroke, along with obese dogs and breeds with flat faces and short noses, such as pugs, boxers and bulldogs.

Signs of heatstroke in cats

  • Faster pulse rate and rapid breathing
  • Lethargy or reluctance to stand
  • Vomiting
  • Increased redness of mouth and tongue
  • Tremors or seizures

Treating heatstroke in pets

If your dog or cat shows any signs of heatstroke, call a vet immediately.

In the meantime, you need to lower their temperature gradually to avoid the risk of shock. You can do so by:

  • Moving them to a cool, shaded area 
  • Encouraging them to drink water 
  • Spraying them with cool, not cold, water 
  • Using wet towels underneath them or a fan to cool them down

LV= pet insurance can give you the peace of mind your pet is covered over the summer months and beyond. Vet fees, lost pet advertisements and holiday cancellation cover can all be included in a policy.

We’ve also got advice for keeping your dog safe and happy in the winter, so you can be ready when the seasons change.