Looking after pets in hot & sunny weather

It’s been a warm, sunny week – highly unusual for Ireland at this time of year. Pet owners should take special care of their animals in this type of weather. The two basic areas of concern are first, the risk of overheating, and second, the danger caused by solar radiation.


Pets can become seriously ill and even die because of accidental overheating. At our clinic in Bray, we see at least one death every year from hyperthermia. The distress at the death of an animal is compounded by the fact that owners feel very guilty, realising that they could have prevented the tragedy by taking simple steps to keep their pet cool.

There are many small things that can be done to ensure that pets are comfortable in hot weather. Examples include:

  • Long-coated dog often benefit from having their coat clipped short
  • Walk dogs during cooler times of day – morning and evening
  • Give less food in hot weather (since the process of digestion can generate a surprising amount of body heat.)
  • Fresh water and shade should always be available (eg if your pet is left alone in the garden)
  • Great care should be taken when travelling with dogs since they are particularly prone to overheating if they are in an enclosed space, such as a car. Make sure there is plenty of ventilation around your pet during a journey, and stop at least once an hour to allow a cool drink of water and a short walk.
  • Never leave your pet alone in a car when it is parked
  • Some breeds like short-nosed dogs (Pekes, Pugs, Bulldogs etc) need to be monitored especially carefully at this time of year because they are particularly prone to overheating.

Solar radiation (sunburn)

White areas of the coat lack pigment so are more prone to getting sunburn which can lead to skin cancer. Owners of white animals need to be aware of this – white cats need to have sunblock put onto the tips of their ears and nose every day in this weather. Some dogs get sun burn, but skin cancer is less common – all the same, care should be taken to monitor pets to make sure they don’t get sunburnt.

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Please note that I am unable to answer veterinary questions in comments. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health it is always better to contact your vet.

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