Pets in Hot Weather

Take extra care of your pets as temperatures rise.

Created: 6/29/2015 Updated: 8/3/2021 - Shelley Audis-Riddell

cats, dogs, health, Health & Wellbeing, summer advice

It's great when the sun is out and the temperatures are set to rise, but we MUST take extra care of our pets as they can easily over heat. OSCAR's Helpline is here to give you some tips and health care advice on how to keep your pets safe in hot weather.

Meal times

  • In warmer weather our pets' appetites tend to decrease, just like ours. Don't be too concerned if your pet does not eat all their meal or skips the odd one. You may find it helps to feed your pet at cooler times of the day (early morning/late evening) or offer small meals throughout the day. Moistening your cat or dog's dry food with water will help to increase their fluid intake.

  • Ensure your pet has access to water at all times, changing it daily to keep it fresh. Move water dishes out of direct sunlight. If you have a cat that likes to spend time outside, place a water dish in the garden for them to drink from.

  • Don't forget smaller animals in outside hutches and cages! Ensure their water and food dishes are also out of direct sunlight and remove any fresh vegetables from the hutch/cage which have not been eaten.

Cat eating out of OSCAR bowl

Over heating...too hot!

Dogs, cats and small animals can easily over heat in hot weather. Make sure you can recognise the signs of overheating in pets...

  • Excessive panting

  • Lethargy

  • Increased salivation

  • In serious cases: vomiting & diarrhoea

If your pet shows any of these signs, you must contact your veterinary practice immediately.

Sun bathing

Try to limit the amount of time your dog or cat spends in the sun. Make sure they have access to a cool, shaded area indoors and outdoors. Be careful to watch where your pet rests indoors; conservatories can get very hot very quickly. Never keep your dog or cat in the conservatory and leave the house. When you go out, make sure your cat flap is open so that your cat can come in to escape from the sun. If your dog is kept in a kennel outdoors, keep an eye on the temperature inside it. Move hutches and cages out of direct sunlight to a well shaded area. Don't exercise small animals in the garden at the hottest time of the day. Instead, stick to early morning and late evening when it is cooler.

White fluffy dog sunbathing

Fun in the sun

Paddling pools are a great way for your dog to splash about and keep cool in the sun. Train your dog to get in and out of the pool safely. Popping a treat or a toy in the pool is a good way to encourage your dog to go into the water, and is a fun game to play.

Ice cubes can be frozen with a tasty treat in the middle. Your dog will have fun playing with the ice cube to get to the treat, whilst keeping cool and hydrated.

Never give your dog vigorous exercise in hot weather: they may over heat. Instead, try to plan your dog's walk in the early morning or late evening, when it's cooler. Exercising at the cooler times of the day will mean you can safely give your dog some vigorous exercise. Walk your dog where there is the option of a quick dip in water to cool off.

Regular grooming is important during the warmer months. It helps to keep your pet's coat lighter and free from dead hair. Some dogs may need clipping to keep them cool in the summer. A pet's coat serves to protect against the different types of weather. In the summer it will protect the skin against sun burn, so do be careful not to clip the coat too short.

Pug dog in swimming pool

The old and the young

Elderly, young or overweight pets and those with medical problems tend to be more vulnerable in hot weather. To reduce the risk to your pet, ensure they do not spend long periods of time in the sun and make sure they have access to plenty of shade or air-conditioning. Brachycephalic breeds, such as Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Boxer dogs and Shih Tzus should be kept particularly cool so as not to increase their respiratory rate.

Hot cars

We’re all aware of the dangers of leaving beloved pets in hot cars. Yet, every year, we continue to hear of dogs suffering needlessly because of being abandoned in a closed car. Even a few moments can leave your dog suffering. The best advice we can give is never to leave them in the car. Plan ahead and take your dog with you rather than leaving them trapped.

Do you need further advice?

If you need any further advice, please contact the OSCAR Helpline Team on our freephone number 0800 195 8000 or email