How to keep your pets cool in a heatwave, from sunscreen to cold treats

With a heatwave on the way, you’ll no doubt be looking for ways to make the most of it, whether that’s a swim at your local lido , or getting in a sunbathing session at the park or heading to a shaded beer garden.

It’s not quite so much fun, however, for our four-legged friends, which can find coping in the heat difficult, as many domestic animals have fur coats that offer little respite. Not to mention, there’s little air conditioning to be found in homes across the UK.

As RSPCA animal welfare expert Dr Samantha Gaines explains, some pets, like dogs, don’t sweat, so once their body temperature begins to rise, it can be difficult for them to cool down.

As a result, it’s important to keep a close eye on your pet’s behaviour in hot temperatures, as they could be displaying signs of heatstroke.

Play a Nice Interactive Game of Tug With Your Dog. A 5 minute game of tug works wonders for tiring out your dog & letting him get rid of some of that pent up energy. (and no – it won’t make your dog aggressive despite the old myth)

“If your pet is excessively panting or drooling, seems lethargic, is vomiting or collapses, then these can all be signs of heatstroke,” says Dr Gaines. “If you see any of these symptoms, we would urge you to speak to your vet as soon as possible.”
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With some animals that require daily walking, such as dogs and horses, take them out early in the morning or late in the evening when it's cooler.

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Nearly 80 million U.S. households have a pet, and 42 percent of those households have more than one, according to a 2015-2016 survey by the APPA. There are 77.8 million pet dogs in the U.S. and 85.8 million pet cats.

“Keep in mind that pavements can get very hot and can burn dogs' paws – if the ground is too hot to touch with your hand, then it's too hot for them to walk on.”

There are, however, some simple steps you can take to help stop your furry friends from overheating, which we’ve rounded up in our guide to keeping pets cool.


You may be surprised to hear that pets, just like humans, need sunscreen, but it's just as important.

“Some pets – particularly those with white or light-coloured coats – can get sunburn so we would recommend using pet-safe sunscreen,” says Dr Gaines. “Cats and dogs may need some sun cream on their ears, while horses may need sun cream on their nose.”

best dog food

This Petkin doggy sunscreen wipes (£4,, is perfect for wriggly animals who won’t stay still.

(Pets At Home)

Fast and convenient to apply, it will protect pets from UV rays without giving you too much work.

Or try this Dermoscent sunfree for dogs and cats (£18.05,, designed for sensitive and light-haired skin.

SPF for animals is just as important as it is for humans


It’s waterproof, fragrance-free and recommended to apply where your pet has little or no fur, such as around the edges of ears, around their nose, abdomen and any areas they have scarring.

Cooling mats

Along with ensuring your pet has access to shady areas and plenty of water to drink, there are DIY measures you can employ to cool them down, such as using a damp towel for them to sit on, or wrapping an ice pack in a towel.

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: While other pets have positive effects on your health as well, dogs have the added benefit of needing to be walked and played with numerous times a day. This means most dog owners get the recommended minimum 30 minutes of exercise a day, lowering their risk of cardiovascular disease and keeping them in better overall shape.

For a more permanent solution, try this Danish Design cooling mat for dogs (from £14.99,
(Waitrose & Partners)

The bed is naturally cooling and doesn’t need to be frozen or refrigerated to use. You can keep it in the garden or indoors in some shade so they’re as comfortable as possible, and it won’t leave any damp stains on any decking or carpet.

If you have bigger dogs, an extra-large mat will do the job best, such as this Scruffs self cooling mat (£33,, which is filled with a non-toxic gel that is five to 10 degrees cooler than room temperature.

(Scruffs )

Paddling pools

Dr Gaines recommends filling a paddling pool with water for your pooches to play in. It will keep them active and cool simultaneously, and doesn’t need to be expensive.

Keep Them Active. Energy varies between breeds, says Dr. Becker. “Greyhounds, Labs, Golden Retrievers, Jack Russell Terriers, Border Collies, and other active breeds have unfathomable energy.” He continues, “wolves spend 80% of their time awake, moving. With cats, there’s not such an exercise requirement,” but providing outlets for play at home is still crucial. For both cats and dogs he recommends food-dispensing that “recreates the hunt,” and puzzle feeders that engage your pet’s “body and mind.”

Smaller animals will enjoy splashing about in this Pawise dog paddling pool (£25,

(Argos )

It’s compact and collapsible, so won’t take up lots of room in the shed when it's not hot and sunny, which, let's face it, is during most of the year in Britain.Larger dogs (along with some of their younger human friends) will fit better in this GoStock dog pool (£49.97,
(Amazon )

It’s made out of a strong PVC material, with wood fibreboards ensuring its durability. There’s also a non-slip interior and a foldable design that opens and closes in one minute – just fill up with cold water and leave your pets to it.

Get Educated. The first step to being an outstanding pet owner, according to Dr. Becker, is taking responsibility. “Nobody ever says ‘I was a lousy pet owner.’ It’s always the pet’s fault.” Learn the peculiarities of your pet’s breed such as how much exercise they need, how gregarious they are, how much maintenance their coat requires, how often they need to go outside, and about new technologies, products, and nutrition that might help you care for your pet. Knowing the basics about your pet’s upkeep ensures you won’t be caught off guard by troubling behavior.


“Make frozen treats out of pet-friendly ingredients to keep your furry friend cool,” says Dr Gaines, who also suggests adding ice cubes to keep your pet’s water bowl nice and chilled.

Fill up your ice cube trays and add to their food bowels


This two-pack silicone ice cube tray (£9.99, is a handy kitchen essential that will benefit everyone in your household. Pop some frozen cubes into your pet's bowl and to your own cocktails when it's hot.

We’ll be stocking up on these Woof and Brew pawsecco freeze pop for dogs and cats (£5.99,, which will deliver instant refreshment for your pets.

Keep your fridge stocked with these frozen treats


Stick them in the freezer until they’re good and icy, then serve them up. They’re non-alcoholic of course and don’t contain any grapes, but while you sip on your prosecco, they can enjoy munching on these.

If you have a small dog, cutting up a lamb roll into tiny pieces is a cost-effective way to make healthy, bite-sized training treats. A 1-pound roll costs $6.98. Cut it up into the desired size, store most of it in a ziplock bag in the freezer, and leave the rest on the counter for immediate use.

Voucher codes

For the latest offers on pet essentials, try the links below:

  • Very discount codes
  • Made discount codes

For more summer essentials, read ourguide to keeping cool while working from home andeverything you need to know about SPF