Summer pet safety tips

Written by Napo HQ
Reviewed by Dr Louisa Lane
22nd Jun 2022
5 mins read
The photo shows a tabby cat with a red collar lying on the grass next to a Burmese Mountain Dog puppy. The sun is behind them, shining brightly.
Summary
The hot weather can play havoc with your dog or cat’s health if you’re not careful. Make sure your pet always has plenty of fresh water to drink and cool shaded areas they can sit in, to prevent dehydration and heatstroke. Consider keeping your pets indoors between 11am and 3pm when the sun is at its strongest. Apply pet-safe suncream to furless areas to prevent sunburn. Finally, always supervise your dog when swimming and avoid unsafe waters. This article was updated 17th April 2023
As the sun shines and the temperatures rise, it’s no surprise that you and your pets want to spend more time outside. However, the hot weather can cause a few problems for your furry friends if you’re not careful.
Here are some summer pet safety tips to make sure your dog or cat stays happy and healthy in the hot weather, or on holiday.

7 hot weather risks and pet summer safety tips

1. Keep your pet safe from heatstroke

One of the biggest risks to dogs and cats in hot weather is heatstroke. This is caused by their body temperature becoming too high and they aren't able to cool themselves down. Severe heatstroke can cause multiple organ failure and is potentially fatal.
Learn how spot the signs of heatstroke, and find out more about this condition, in
Louisa the Vet’s blog post
.
To help prevent heatstroke, make sure your pet:
  • Always has access to clean water, and that they drink enough.
  • Can stay out of the sun when it's at it's hottest. (11am to 3pm.)
  • Has shady spots or cool areas to rest. (eg in front of a fan, or an air-conditioned room.)
  • Never leave your pet in hot cars or warm unventilated rooms, like conservatories.
  • Put down wet towels or cools mats for them to lie on.
  • Pour cool (not cold!) water on them or stroke them with a damp cloth.
Never use cold or iced water because this can cause their body to go into shock and make them sicker. Using cold water will also cause their blood vessels to constrict, which will make them even warmer!
You can find out more ways to
prevent heatstroke in dogs
and
prevent heatstroke in cats
in our blog posts.
The photo shows a brown and white tabby cat drinking clean water from a trough.

2. Prevent dehydration in dogs and cats

Dehydration is another risk to your pet’s health on hot days. Dehydration can cause lethargy, vomiting, diarrhoea, and pain. Severe dehydration is a life-threatening condition that can cause multiple organ failure. It’s considered a medical emergency so you must call your vet for help if you think your pet is sick.
One of the most important pet summer safety tips is to make sure your dog or cat drinks plenty of water. Keeping your pet hydrated prevents both dehydration and heatstroke.
Your furry friend should always have access to a bowl of fresh water. But in the summer months, it can be a good idea to put a few extra bowls down in different rooms. Many cats prefer to drink from running water, so you could buy a water fountain for them.
If you’re worried your pet isn’t drinking enough, you can feed them wet food which contains a lot of moisture and will help to keep them hydrated. You could make pet-safe ice lollies too for a cooling summery treat!

3. Protect your pet from sunburn

Despite their fur, dogs and cats can suffer from sunburn. Like humans, UV rays can damage your pet's skin and cause skin cancer.
Hairless pets, pets with thin or pale fur, and pets with light-pigmented skin and noses are all more vulnerable to sunburn. Areas like your pet’s nose, ears, and belly that have less fur are also prone to sunburn.
You can use a pet-safe suncream (which contains no zinc oxide or PABA,) to cover their vulnerable areas and prevent damage to their skin.
You should also consider keeping your pet indoors when the sun is at its strongest (11am to 3pm in the UK). This will limit their exposure to harmful UV rays.
The photo shows a Golden Retriever racing across the golden sands of a beach towards the blue water of the sea.

4. Supervise all swimming

Although your cat isn’t likely to go swimming, your dog is.
Pet summer safety tips around water are similar to how you keep your other family members safe. These are:
  • Never let your pet swim unsupervised.
  • Don’t let them swim into deep water.
  • Don't let your dog drink seawater, and rinse them after swimming in the sea.
  • Never let your pet swim in water containing blue-green algae.
Currents and rip tides are as dangerous to dogs as they are to people. A good rule of thumb is if you wouldn't feel safe swimming in it, don't let your dog.

Why can't dogs drink seawater?

You must also make sure they don’t drink seawater, which can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and dehydration because it's full of salt. Make sure you have plenty of fresh water for your dog to drink and always rinse them off with fresh water after swimming in the sea.

What's blue green algae?

You should also take care when letting your dog swim in lakes and ponds. A bacteria called
blue-green algae
(
cyanobacteria
) grows in still and slow-moving water in hot weather, and it’s poisonous to dogs and cats.
Don’t let your pet swim in or drink from lakes/ponds that have:
  • Cloudy water with a blue, green, or brown tint.
  • Blue or green scum in or on the water.
  • Foamy buildup at the water’s edge.
  • Clumps that look like seaweed.
  • Green or brown flakes floating in the water.

5. Be careful around BBQs

Although everyone loves a BBQ, it’s important to remember that they pose a lot of potential dangers to your dog and cat.
Make sure your dog or cat can’t jump up near the BBQ and hot coals, as they could burn themselves. Keep sharp utensils and kebab skewers out of your pet’s reach. Wooden kebab skewers could splinter and injure your pet’s mouth and throat if eaten, or the sharp end could pierce their gut. If the skewers perforate their intestine, it can cause a potentially life-threatening infection called peritonitis, and your dog or cat will require surgery to treat it.
A lot of the food we like to grill is either very unhealthy or toxic to animals. (For example, anything marinated in garlic or salt is toxic.) Alcohol is also poisonous to pets, so keep your drinks out of reach.
Prevention is definitely better than the cure in this case. Not only will it keep your pet safe, but if your dog or cat eats something they shouldn’t,
it can cost around £1200-2000
to treat.

6. Be extra careful when travelling

We all know that dogs (and cats) die in hot cars, so if you do need to travel with your pets be extra careful.
  • Keep your pets secured in the car (it's a legal requirement!)
  • Keep the air conditioning on, especially if you've stopped in traffic.
  • Take plenty of rest stops.
  • Make sure your pet has access to drinking water, or stop to give them a drink regularly.
  • Don't let your pet hang out the window.
  • Never leave your pets alone in cars.
Here's
our guide
with Louisa the vet on tips for travelling with your dog.

The photo shows a crossbreed dog lying on a boat, in the sunshine, wearing sunglasses.

7. Be prepared on holiday

There’s a lot to remember if you’re
going on a summer holiday
with your pet in tow.
If you decide to take your pet with you on holiday, make sure their vaccinations are up-to-date and that you can provide a health certificate (if you’re going abroad). It’s a good opportunity to check your pet’s microchip details are correct too.
Finally, make sure your pet insurance policy covers your pet if you travel with them.
Here at
Napo
, we cover the cost of treatment (up to £1,000 or £2,000 depending on your policy) if your pet has to visit the vet in the EU. Not only that, we provide lots of additional cover to help keep you and your pet happy and healthy on holiday.
For example, if your pet needs emergency treatment while you’re away, we can cover unexpected accommodation and travel costs for you and your pet for up to £100 a night for 2 weeks. Or if your pet goes missing, we could help pay for changed accommodation and travel arrangements so you can focus on finding your pet.
If you're planning on going on a trip with your dog, check out
this guide to planning the perfect pooch's holiday
.
Wherever you go this summer and whatever you get up to, following these pet summer safety tips will mean your furry friends can stay happy and healthy in the hot weather.
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