30/06/2015 13:56 BST | Updated 30/06/2016 06:59 BST

Britain is Braced for Soaring Temperatures, But Are Your Pets Set to Suffer?


It's getting so summery - something I really love! It's OK for me, though, because I have the choice of what I wear and can get out of the heat when I get too hot.

That's not the case for pets though, and I've seen so many pets become affected by the soaring temperature. One case sticks in my mind - an Old English Sheepdog that had been left outside a shop. My team of vets and nurses had to work together to save his life and we were lucky - the dog lived. But I've also seen pets that weren't so fortunate.

Small pets like hamsters are particularly sensitive to the heat - it's called 'sleeper disease' for obvious reasons. You can imagine what it's like to tell a small child why their pet is no longer with them - a very sad experience, but completely avoidable.

As it's such an important issue, I've put together 10 tips that can help your pet in the hot weather.

PDSA's top ten tips:

1. Never leave pets in cars, conservatories caravans or tied outside a shop. Not even for just a few minutes as the temperature can rise very quickly. You may end up being away for longer than you thought and your pet can't move to a cooler place in these situations. For more information see the national campaign Dogs Die in Hot Cars.

2. Provide plenty of fresh, clean water. Pets need this all the time, so check bowls or bottles regularly throughout the day and refill them. When you go out for a walk with your dog take a collapsible bowl and bottled water to avoid dehydration.

3. Exercise in the morning or evening. Just as we wouldn't go for a walk under the midday sun with our fur coats on, we should keep our pets in the shade during the hottest part of the day too. Keep strenuous exercise to a minimum and give them free access to cool, indoor areas. Get to know the signs of heat stroke as well - some dogs will keep running even though they are getting too hot.

4. Check your rabbit for fly strike. This is a serious maggot infestation that can be fatal. During the summer rabbits should be checked underneath at least twice a day for fly eggs and keep their underneath clean by regularly wiping with a clean damp cloth.

5. Provide plenty of shade. Not only is this important if your pet lives outdoors in an enclosure or a hutch but indoor cages should also be kept well away from the window to avoid long periods of direct sunlight. Don't let your pet lie in direct sunlight for too long.


6. Protect them with pet sunscreen. These are available from all good pet stores and can be used on areas of white fur or on pets with only a thin covering of hair. Protect vulnerable areas, such as the nose and, particularly for cats, the tips of the ears.

7. Enjoy a tidy BBQ. I've done numerous operations to remove skewers and corn on the cobs from dog's intestines - so always tidy up leftovers and rubbish. Cats can like meaty flavours as well - I can remember having to remove a sausage bag from the intestines that a cat who had wolfed it down when the owners weren't looking.

8. Having your pet's fur trimmed. This is a great way to help prevent overheating. Your pet's feet can also be very vulnerable - think about how we'd feel if we had to walk barefoot over hot tar!

9. Take extra care when travelling. If you're going away in the car, keep the air conditioning on. Make regular water stops and never let your dog put their head out of a car window and never leave them in a parked car.

10. Watch out for overheating. The signs of heat stroke start with excessive panting and can progress to fatal collapse. Keep a sharp eye and keep your nearest vet's phone number handy just in case. If your pet does get too hot, wrap them in a cool damp towel, replacing it regularly with a fresh damp one.

There is more advice and information on keeping pets happy and healthy during the summer months on PDSA's website and also on the Met Office website.

If you think your pet is overheating, always call your vet for advice - even if your pet seems to recover, it can cause lasting damage so it's better to be safe than sorry.