How to keep your pets safe in a heatwave

Slathering on the sunscreen and keeping hydrated are musts during a heatwave – but when it comes to looking after your animals, it’s just as important to make sure they stay happy and healthy when the temperatures are soaring.

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The RSPCA has lots of helpful advice on caring for pets in the summer. The two most important things: always make sure animals have access to shade and fresh drinking water.

Can you leave the blinds down or curtains pulled in a few rooms? Is there a garden table or parasol in the garden they can shelter under? Are outdoor hutches in direct light all day? You may want to have extra water bowls or bottles out during a heatwave too.

Here are some other top tips:

Animals can get sunburnt Use a pet-safe sun cream on exposed areas like the nose and ears and tummy. Don’t forget to groom your pets in the summer months to help them shed excess hair.

Fish need care too Keep tanks out of direct sunlight (the same goes for reptiles) and change the water regularly to avoid overheating. If you have a pond, keep the water level topped up.

Make a cool pack Wrap an ice pack or frozen water bottle in a tea towel for your pet to lie on. Even some damp, wrung-out towels can help them cool down.

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Don’t over-exercise dogs And never walk them at the hottest part of the day. Use BBC Weather to see an hour by hour guide to temperatures. If you can’t comfortably hold the back of your hand on the tarmac for three seconds then it’s too hot for your dog’s paws.

Never leave animals in hot cars Or conservatories or caravans. Even if you thin it’s just for a short while. Temperatures in an enclosed space can very rapidly rise to 47°C which can be fatal.

Put ice cubes in water bowls Or freeze wet food to make pet-friendly ice lollies!

Some birds can be gently misted Use a fine spray bottle with cool water. Birds such as parrots often enjoy being cooled down this way and it helps them maintain healthy feathers, too.

Where safe, keep windows ajar Allow a breeze through the house. You can get cable restrictors for windows for around a tenner which allow them to be slightly open without indoor pets escaping.

Buy a cheap paddling pool And fill it up for your pets to splash around in. (As an added bonus it’s really damn cute).

CAN I BREAK INTO A CAR TO SAVE A DOG?

If you see a dog locked in a car and it is displaying signs of heatstroke (heavy panting, excessive drooling, looks uncoordinated, vomiting) the official advice is to call 999. If the situation is critical and the police can’t attend, be aware that, without proper justification, breaking a window could be classed as criminal damage.

The law states that you can commit damage if you believe the owner of the property would consent to the damage if they knew the circumstances surrounding it.

If you do decide to do so, make sure you tell the police of your intentions and fully document it by taking photos or footage of the dog, and note down names and numbers of witnesses.

For more advice on pet safety, visit rspca.org.uk