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Keeping pets cool in hot weather

  • 9, Sep 2020
  • Read time: 6 mins

With hopes of hot summer months, we get ready with fewer layers of clothing and sun cream in hand. But what about our pets? Cats and dogs can suffer in the heat if they’re not protected, sometimes with tragic consequences.

Our vets have shared some great advice and helpful tips on how to keep your pets cool in hot weather.

Dog playing with a ball.

Dog care in summer

Being ready for the arrival of warmer weather can help keep your dog safe and healthy. Take a look at our tips on how to care for your dog in summer, from using damp towels to looking out for signs of heatstroke.

Walking your dog in summer

Dogs need their daily walks whether it’s raining or sunny. If it’s a hot day though, walking your dog can be harmful to their health. 

Take care by avoiding the warmest parts of the day. Walk your dog early in the morning or later in the evening when it’s cooler. This will reduce the risk of heatstroke and burning their paws.

To avoid your dog burning their paws, our vets recommend trying the 5 second test. If you can’t keep the back of your hand on the ground for at least 5 seconds, the ground is too hot and you shouldn’t walk your dog.

When you’re out on your walk, try to keep your dog calm and reduce their intense activities so they don’t overheat.

If your dog overheats, they might suffer heatstroke which could be fatal. Look out for these signs and if you spot them, move your dog into the shade and contact your vet:

  • Heavy panting
  • Drooling more than usual
  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Vomiting

Pet sunscreen

Sometimes, you can't avoid being outside with your dog in the warmest part of the day. Prepare your dog by applying dog sunscreen to sun-sensitive areas to help keep them safe. Dog sunscreen can help protect your dog’s skin, particularly white dogs with pink skin or dogs with exposed skin.

Apply to:

  • The nose
  • Around the lips
  • Tips of the ears
  • The groin area
  • The belly

Damp towels and cooling mats

Find a nice area outside to lay a damp towel or cooling mat. Your dog will enjoy a relaxing lie down in the shade whilst cooling down.

Our vets advise that you do not wrap your dog in the damp towel or cooling mat, as this could actually make them warmer.

Fresh and cold water

Like us, it’s important for dogs to stay hydrated on hot days. Keep an eye on their water bowl and top it up throughout the day. Adding some ice to their water bowl will keep the water refreshing and cool.

Go for a swim

Letting your dog have a paddle in the sea, a river or a lake when out on a walk can be a great way to help them cool down.

If they aren’t a confident swimmer, having a shallow paddling pool in the garden could be a nice alternative.

Our vets recommend that you always check the temperature of the water before you let your dog dive in. If an overheating dog jumps into cold water, it can do more harm than good.

Dogs in hot cars

Before putting your dog in the car on a hot day, think about your journey and if you’ll need to leave them in the car at any point. If you do, they might be safer staying at home.

Find out more about the risks and rules around leaving your dog in a hot car here.

Cat care in summer

When summer arrives, cats can feel as hot and bothered as us. Help keep their feline temperature down with these top tips from our vets.

Check places before locking up

Cats love to find warm and private places to sleep. Be sure to check any conservatories, greenhouses, sheds or garages before locking them. Enclosed spaces can get hot quickly and your cat could suffer heatstroke or dehydration if locked inside.

Keep the windows and doors open

If safe, open windows and doors to let a breeze through the house to cool down your cat whilst they’re indoors. Or, you can keep them shut, close the curtains for shade and turn on a fan to create a cool breeze.

Access to shade

It’s important that your cat has access to shade inside and outside during hot summer days. If you don’t have any trees or greenery for shade, pop up a garden umbrella or gazebo. This will give them somewhere safe and shaded to relax.


Grooming your cat is a great way to keep them cool and comfortable on a hot day. Our vets say that brushing your cat daily to remove any loose fur. This is important during heatwaves as any extra fur will trap unwanted heat.

Fresh and cold water

Always keep their water bowl filled with fresh, cool water in easy to reach places. A good tip is to have many water bowls placed around your house and garden. This way your cat can stay hydrated wherever they find themselves exploring.

Summary of our top tips

  • Exercise your pet at a cooler time of day
  • Regularly top up their water bowls with fresh, cool water
  • Make sure they have access to shade
  • Groom them daily
  • Lay down damp towels or cooling mats
  • Check out buildings for your pet before locking doors
  • Don’t take your pet in the car unless absolutely necessary and you know they’re not going to be left in there on their own

One final tip is to make sure you have covered your pets with reliable pet insurance. Pet insurance will give you added peace of mind should you need your pet need an unexpected visit to the vet.

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