5 simple tricks to keep your pet safe in hot weather

NEW YORK CITY - JUNE 20: A dog walks along the beach at Coney Island on a sweltering afternoon on the first day of summer on June 20, 2024 in New York City.  New York City and much of the Northeast is experiencing higher than usual temperatures as a heat wave blankets the area causing the heat index to feel over 100 degrees in many states.  Meteorologists are predicting that this could be one of the hottest summers on record.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Dogs are actually more vulnerable to the heat than human beings. (Getty Images)

With heat waves forecast in the UK and across Europe in coming weeks, it's important to remember that extreme summer heat doesn’t just affect people, but animals too.

Animals can suffer serious symptoms due to the sun, says Dr Edwina Gildea, director of veterinary operations at animal health organisation Zoetis UK, speaking to Yahoo News.

Walk animals early in the morning or later in the evening, she advises, and be alert to the symptoms of heatstroke. Animals can’t cool themselves by sweating, so they are actually more vulnerable to the sun than human beings.

Symptoms of heatstroke include excessive panting, dribbling and collapsing. "If you spot these, you should wet your dog's coat with cool water, and contact your vet," she advises.

Dr Gildea advises taking an empty ice cream container or margarine tub and filling it with water before placing fruit in it – such as an apple, pear or berries) and putting the mixture in the freezer to keep it ready-to-go for a hot day.

Dogs also like frozen apples in a paddling pool. "If you are intending to provide your dog with a paddling pool, you could simply freeze the fruit by itself and place it in the pool when ready. Dogs love bobbing frozen apples up and down in water, and this game will keep them cool and hydrated," she adds.

A dog cools off in a fountain in the Commons during a heatwave in Boston, Massachusetts, on June 19, 2024. Extreme heat and high humidity smothered the central and northeastern US on June 18, 2024, with temperature records expected to melt away in the coming days, authorities warned. Forecasters predicted temperatures could hit 100 degrees Fahrenheit (about 38 Celsius) in parts of New England by June 20. (Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)
Make sure your dog has water to cool off in. (AFP via Getty Images)

Always check surface temperature of the road or path surface before any walks, Dr Gildea advises.

She says, "All dogs need exercise, but to avoid the risk of heatstroke you should consider walking your dog during the coolest times of the day. As a general rule, if it is uncomfortable to keep the palm of your hand on the surface for around 30 seconds, it will be uncomfortable for your dog to walk on. Grass is a much cooler alternative, so it makes sense to take your dog to a park or woodland area during hot days."

Keeping your cat entertained indoors is a good idea in the heat, so playing on your cat"s natural love of boxes can work.

"Have you ever bought a toy for your cat only to have them play with the box instead? Save yourself the money and make the box into the toy," she says. "Build a cat castle with cardboard boxes for your cat to explore and play in. Get creative and add multiple levels and entrances for your cat’s in-home hangout so they can stay cool inside on those hot summer days."

A paddling pool can be a great way for your dog to cool down.

"Most supermarkets offer affordable options which can be filled in next to no time. You can add some ice and water toys to keep them refreshed and entertained," she says.

"However, it"s important to regularly change the water to avoid stagnation. If your dog ingests stagnant water, it may experience an upset stomach."