Pets: It is time for cool cats not hot dogs

IT IS all too easy to think of the needs of only yourself and your family during the warm summer months.

From applying sun screen to playing safe in the sea, and enjoying well-cooked barbecues to planning a break away, the list is long.

But what about your pets? It is not possible for them to tell humans when they are too hot or uncomfortable, so it is up to their owners to ensure they remain happy and healthy in the heat.

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To help, veterinary charity PDSA has compiled a handy list of tips to help keep animals safe throughout the summer.

1 Don't let pets sit out in strong sun. As well as causing heatstroke, the sun can burn a pet's skin, especially in vulnerable areas like the ears and nose. Apply pet sun block, particularly to those with pale or thin fur (such as Dalmatians and English bull terriers), and be sure to move hutches or cages out of direct sunlight.

2 Make sure that pets have access to a constant supply of clean water.

3 Never leave pets in cars, conservatories or caravans. Even if it feels cool or you leave a window open, the temperature can soar dangerously high in just a few minutes, causing potentially fatal heatstroke.

4 Get long-haired pets trimmed regularly to prevent them overheating.

5 Dogs can easily get too hot when out walking or playing in warm weather, so avoid exercising them during the midday heat. Take them out early in the morning or evening.

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6 Fishponds can get very hot in the summer, so use overhanging plants or pond covers to create cool, shaded areas.

7 Food can quickly go off in hot weather, so don't use more than your pet needs and discard any uneaten items after meal times.

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8 Plan ahead if you intend to put your pet in a kennel or cattery while you are away – good ones fill up very quickly.

9 Fleas are a problem in the summer because the hot weather speeds up the development of their eggs. Make sure you speak to your vet about regular treatment.

10 Maggot infestations (or fly strike) can be problematic for rabbits in summer. Flies lay their eggs on damp, dirty fur, which then hatch into maggots and eat the rabbit's skin. Wet and dirty bedding should be cleaned regularly, and the fur around a rabbit's bottom should be checked daily.

Pet owners interested in finding out more can download a free copy of PDSA's Holiday Health for Pets leaflet at