With summer on its way, it is vital to ensure that our dogs and cats are properly cared for in the hot weather. We asked a couple of local vets for some hints and tips:

1. Provide plenty of clean fresh water for all pets in warmer weather.
2. Paddling pools or similar are good for cooling dogs if out side for long periods, an alternative could be a spray from a hose if the dog does not become too excited.
3. Vets have seen a lot of ticks on animals already this sum- mer. If you find a tick on your pet, don’t apply any sub- stances to the tick, simply use a specialist tick hook to remove it. Ticks can carry several diseases which could affect your pet, so it’s best to use a product that repels ticks to prevent them biting in the first place.
4. Never leave any pet in a car on warm days even for a few minutes (even with the windows open); the inside of a car can get to very high temperature in a short period.
5. Trim excess hair – get them groomed!
6. Keep an eye on your pet for any signs of heat exhaustion or sunstroke including excessive panting, drooling, convulsions, collapse and shock. If your pet shows any of these signs, get them out of the heat, shower them with cool (not cold) water, wrap them in wet towels and take them straight to the vet.
7. Do not over-exercise animals on hot days – take them out at the coolest parts of the day e.g. early morning/late evening.
8. Take special care with brachycephalic breeds i.e. bulldogs/ pugs/French bulldogs – these are prone to overheating .
9. Take water with you if going out for the day with your dog – if going to the beach it is important not to let your dog drink salt water as they can get salt intoxication.
10. It is useful to keep water in your car for emergencies but make sure you use a thermos flask in summer to keep the water cool.
11. Use sunscreen for animals with white fur. Common places
to get sunburn are tips of ears in white cats, top of nose in dogs with white fur.
12. Dogs can burn their paws on hot pave- ments so walk them during the cooler times of the day. A good test is to hold the back of your hand on the pavement – if you can’t hold it there for 5 seconds or more it is too hot to walk your dog on.
13. If you are taking your dog to the beach, check tide times first. Not all dogs can naturally swim so they could quickly get out of their depth. The hot grains of sand and salt in the sea can also damage their paws so wash them thoroughly when you get home.
14. Grass seeds are common foreign bodies that can cause discomfort, particularly in ears and feet, which are picked up when exercising outside or on a walk. Avoid walking in long grass during the peak summer months of June to August and check your dog’s paws after every walk for lurking grass seeds. Seek early veterinary advice if your dog starts licking its paw or has a small hole between its toes.
15. Try freezing your dog’s dinner into ice lollies by mixing their food with some water in a cup and putting it in the freezer for a couple of hours. Remove the cup before giving it to your dog.
16. Kennel cough is a separate vaccination for dogs. It isn’t always a requirement when your dog goes into kennels, but it is recommended.

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home has a Summer Proof Fun (SPF) guide on its website. It is a four-step process where pet owners can answer a series of questions to reveal their pet’s SPF score based on coat colour, coat type, length of the animal’s nose and age to determine either a low, medium or high susceptibility.

Thanks to Newdigate Vets (www.newdigatevets.co.uk), Stocton, Denbies View and Thornbury Veterinary Centres (www.denbiesviewvets.co.uk) and Brelades Vets (www.breladesvets.com).