We receive many enquiries and reports about the welfare of animals over the summer months, particularly when it's very hot. Find out how to help animals enjoy summer as much as you do!

Top tips for keeping pets cool in hot weather

  • Never leave animals in hot cars, conservatories, outbuildings or caravans, even if it's just for a short while. Temperatures can quickly rise to 47°C (117°F) which can result in death.
  • Use pet-safe sun cream on exposed parts of your pet's skin, such as the tips of their ears and nose, to avoid sunburn. If you're unsure on the right product, please ask your vet.
  • Ensure pets always have access to shade and fresh drinking water to help keep them cool.
  • Check every day for flystrike.
  • Putting ice cubes into your dog or cat's water bowl or making some tasty ice cube treats is another fantastic idea.
  • Damp towels for your pet to lie on or an ice pack wrapped in a towel could provide a welcome relief from the heat.
  • Dogs may also appreciate a paddling pool to splash around in. Take a look at one of the dogs in our care enjoying a dip in the water.

Walking your dog in hot weather

Dogs need exercise, even when it's hot. We recommend walking your dog in the morning or evening when they will not burn its paws on the pavement or be at increased risk of heatstroke.

Signs of burned pads:

limping or refusing to walk

  • licking or chewing at the feet
  • pads darker in colour
  • missing part of pad
  • blisters or redness

Credit: DogsNaturally magazine

Cat care in the summer

Although cats will often seek shade and drink more water to stay safe, here are a few extra steps you can take to ensure they stay cool during the hot weather:

  • Always check sheds, greenhouses and summerhouses before closing them up. Cats can find their way inside if they're looking for a cosy spot but could become too hot or dehydrated if trapped.
  • Where safe, keep windows and doors ajar to allow a breeze through the house. If your cat lives indoors-only consider different options such as windows with locking mechanisms, which still allow air into the house but also keeps your cat indoors.

Fish, amphibians and reptiles

  • Keep fish tanks and reptile or amphibian enclosures out of direct sunlight and carry out water changes regularly, to prevent overheating.
  • Top up the water levels of ponds and make sure pond fish have access to shaded areas created by aquatic plants.
  • Check temperature levels inside enclosures regularly to ensure they are at the correct temperature gradient for the species.

Captive birds

  • Keep indoor captive birds out of direct sunlight and ensure aviary birds have shaded areas. All birds need access to clean freshwater, both for drinking and bathing.
  • Birds such as parrots often enjoy being gently misted with cool water, to cool off and maintain feather condition.

Summer wildlife

Help garden wildlife by supplying fresh, clean water for drinking and bathing. Be wildlife-friendly - take care when using lawn-mowers or strimmers and keep pesticides out of reach of animals.

Prevent animals getting caught in sports netting by removing them after use, as this could cause serious harm if they get entangled in it. We also recommend replacing pond or plant netting with solid metal mesh too.

Snakes are most active during June and July; don't be alarmed if you see one. Most are just passing through and tend to shy away from humans.

Breeding season for grass snakes

June and July mark the breeding season for grass snakes. You may find their small leathery white eggs in compost heaps, grass cuttings or sawdust piles between June and September. You can tell they're grass snakes eggs as no other snake native to the UK lays eggs outside of the body. Please make sure the eggs are left undisturbed throughout this time.

Farm animals in hot weather

All animals should have shaded areas and clean drinking water available.

Avoid transporting farm animals in hot weather, if it cannot be avoided move them during the coolest parts of the day.

If animals are housed during hot weather, ensure the buildings/housing are adequately ventilated and monitor temperatures frequently.

Find out more about Farm animals in hot weather (PDF 48KB).

Ragwort poisoning

Ragwort (also known as 'yellow peril') is one of the most frequent causes of plant poisoning in livestock. Horses and cows are particularly susceptible, and young and/or unhealthy animals are more susceptible than mature/healthy animals.

Ragwort is most dangerous in dried grass, hay and silage. Find out what to do if you suspect poisoning.