With summer in full swing and temperatures and humidity soaring, we all need to help our pets stay cool and happy. Heat stroke is a real danger in cats and dogs, and we probably all know that it’s not cool to leave your dog in the car while you run an errand, but did you know that hot sidewalks and concrete can burn your furry friends paws, or that some breeds can get sunburn? Many of our insurer partners provide great advice on how to keep pets safe in the summertime, so I’ve put together this list of 5 top tips to ensure that your furry friend has nothing but fun in the sun. 1. Heatstroke Heatstroke is serious for cats and dogs, and pets with restricted breathing or who are overweight are even more prone to suffering. Cats and dogs can get heat exhaustion that can lead to heatstroke, so what do you need to look out for? Embrace Pet Insurance advises that high temperatures with high humidity levels can mean pets can’t cool themselves enough through panting, so watch out for signs of distress or heat exhaustion. Dogs and cats will pant heavily, their tongues might loll out of their mouths, their gums will be bright pink and they might slow down (but some might not!). Cats might also excessively groom. Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke and collapse and it is more likely in dogs with restricted breathing like English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, and Pugs, or overweight pets. To help them cool down take your pet to a cool area, put a cool damp cloth on their belly or back and let them take small cold drinks. If they collapse, are suffering from heat stroke, or you are worried, take them to the veterinarian in a cool car as soon as you can. 2. Hot Sidewalks, Asphalt, Sand and Concrete Hot sidewalks, asphalt, sand and concrete can burn your dog and cat’s pads causing blisters, and pale colored pets can get sunburn. It makes sense to avoid taking your dog for a walk or letting your cat out during the day when it’s hot. It's also cool to do what you can to help them avoid sunburn if they are white, pale colored or have a thin coat. If you live in a sunshine state you probably know you can get pet sun cream and Embrace tell us you can also use baby cream if you can’t find the pet variety. Use factor 50+ and avoid any cream with zinc or PABA as they are toxic for pets. Spray it on your hands and rub into noses, bellies and any exposed areas, and remember to replace hourly or more often after swimming! Walking you dog first thing in the morning and at the end of the day once its cooler will help them avoid burned pads from scorching sidewalks. Finding shady areas for walks and playtime is also a good idea. If you’re keen walkers and enjoy hiking with your dog remember to take plenty of water for your dog to drink as drinking from streams could cause tummy upsets, according to Trupanion’s summer tips. 3. Frozen Treats Providing frozen treats to help your furry friend stay cool, and a shallow paddling pool in the shade is a winner with dogs! Healthy Paws provides some useful tips on keeping pets cool suggesting giving cats ice cubes to chase round the kitchen floor, or freeze banana and peanut butter with water into ice lollies for your dogs to help pets keep cool(as long as it’s not peanut butter containing Xylitol as its toxic to pets – see our information on toxic foods for dogs and cats). 4. Ticks, Fleas, Mites and Waterborne Parasites Ticks, fleas, mites and waterborne parasites are a bigger problem in the heat so take extra care to check your furry friend regularly and carefully. Petplan provide us with a set of helpful hints on how to keep our pets healthy as we all head outdoors in the summertime. So, whether you’re heading for the beach or hiking in the mountains you’ll know what the risks are. Fun in the sea or lake is great but dogs can suffer if they swallow too much salt water or parasites and bacteria lurking in lakes. Short faced dogs can also find swimming difficult as their breathing may be restricted so keep an eye on them and you can get life preservers for your dog if you’re worried. The outdoors means extra risk of picking up ticks or fleas, so check your dog and cat regularly and make sure they are up to date with all their preventative treatments. Exploring wild, new territories can risk scrapes and injuries so be prepared to deal with minor injuries and always carry lots of water for you and your pet. Take a look at our owners guides to parasites in dogs and cats for advice on how to spot any nasty bugs. 5. Festivals and Parties at Home Festivals and parties at home are fun for us but may not be so much fun for your furry friends. All the excitement, loud noises, risk of getting lost, fireworks and BBQ’s at street parties or festivals can be frightening and dangerous for your pets so consider leaving them at home while you party. Even parties in the backyard can be a hazard as according to Petplan, burns from fires or the BBQ are common in summer, as are upset tums from eating treats they shouldn’t have! It is probably best to keep them safely out of harms way as your friends may not know that chocolate treats are toxic and too much BBQ sauce might not agree with your dog’s tummy! Whatever you’re doing this summer, have fun and stay safe!