Hospital for Small Animals

Summer pet advice from the Dick Vet

Follow our top tips to make sure your pets don't overheat during the Summer months.

alastain dog in a garden running under a water sprinkler

Summer is our hottest season and lots of people enjoy spending more time outdoors with their family, friends and pets between June to September.

But as temperatures rise (yes, even in Scotland!), our pets are at higher risk of easily overheating, being more susceptible to skin and ear infections and developing heatstroke.

We have outlined some tips on how to beat the heat and keep your pet healthy and happy this summer. If you have any concerns then always speak to your local vet, who’ll be happy to help.

Provide plenty of water and shade

Pets can become dehydrated quickly, so make sure they have access to plenty of fresh, clean water on hot summer days at all times. Also make sure your pets have a shady place to get out of the sun, and use pet-safe sun cream on exposed parts of your pet’s skin, especially their ears and nose, when they are out in direct sunlight.

If it’s too hot to venture outside, then make sure your home has circulating cool air to stop your pet overheating. Providing damp towels, blankets or cool-mats for your dog to lie on is a great way to help keep them cool.

Know the signs of heatstroke in pets

Unlike humans, dogs can’t sweat through their skin and so they rely on panting and releasing heat through their paw pads and nose to regulate their body temperature and keep cool. If dogs are too hot and are unable to reduce their body temperature by panting, they can develop heatstroke – which is very serious and can kill.

Know the signs of heatstroke:

  • Excessive panting
  • Extreme salivation
  • Appearing lethargic, drowsy or uncoordinated
  • Distress
  • Collapse

If you suspect your pet is suffering from heatstroke, move them to a cool place, wet their coat with cool water and contact your vet immediately.

Pets left unattended in a car can quickly develop heatstroke on a warm summer day. Never leave your animal alone in a parked vehicle even for a short period of time with the windows open.

If you see a dog in distress inside a car, official advice is to dial 999 immediately and ask for the police. A dog in distress in a hot car is an emergency and the police will advise you what to do based on the situation.

Mind your walking hours

On hot days, walk your dog during the cooler parts of the day, in the early morning and late evening, to avoid heatstroke. Be aware that dogs’ paw pads can burn on hot pavements. As a general rule, if it’s too hot for your hand it’s too hot for their paws.

Swimming advice

Swimming is an excellent exercise for your pet and a great way to keep them cool in the summer. However, there are some tips to be mindful of:

  • Not all dogs like to swim, so never force or throw them into water.
  • Be wary of tides at the beach, which can be dangerous.
  • Bring fresh water with you to the beach and try to avoid your dog drinking saltwater. It’s likely to make them feel sick.
  • If your dog swims or paddles in the sea to keep cool, remember to rinse the saltwater and sand from their coat afterwards to avoid drying out and irritating their skin.
  • Make sure rivers, ponds and canals are clean before letting your dog dive in. Some types of algae, including blue-green algae, are toxic to dogs. If your dog swims in algae-contaminated water, contact your vet immediately.

Be mindful of these tips in the heat and enjoy the summertime with your pet!



About the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies  

The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies is a one-of-a-kind centre of excellence in clinical activity, teaching and research. Our purpose-built campus, set against the backdrop of the beautiful Pentland Hills Regional Park, is home to more than 800 staff and almost 1400 students, all of whom contribute to our exceptional community ethos.  

The School comprises:  

The Roslin Institute  

The Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems  

The Roslin Innovation Centre  

The Hospital for Small Animals  

Equine Veterinary Services  

Farm Animal Services  

Easter Bush Pathology  

The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education  

We represent the largest concentration of animal science-related expertise in Europe, impacting local, regional, national and international communities in terms of economic growth, the provision of clinical services and the advancement of scientific knowledge.