11 ways to keep your pets cool during a heatwave

Because having fur in this weather is no fun

the best pet tracker: withings pet tracker on Dalmatian
(Image credit: Whistle)

Every time you open your mouth to complain about how hot you are or how sweaty you are or how uncomfortable you are in this heat, just spare a thought, while you sit in your air conditioned office in your floaty clothes, for your pets. Imagine walking around in this weather with a fur coat on. Yes, we know our animals have a load of nifty ways of cooling themselves down, but we can give them a hand keeping cool in this heatwave too...

You can find more buys to keep your pets cool during the heatwave on our buying guide. For more advice on all the stuff that comes with owning a pet, head over to our pet hub page

1. Bring your pets indoors 

As tempting as it may be to get out and walk the dog during this nice weather, they are actually best kept inside when the temperatures soar. Walk your dogs in the morning or evening when the temperature drops or if you have to go out during the day stick to shady areas.

Cats might be sunbathers but even they will benefit from being brought inside for a few hours during the hottest part of the day. 

Small animals kept in cages should also be brought inside and if possible let them out onto areas that are tiled to help them cool down. 

Still too stuffy indoors? Don't under-estimate the power of a good fan for keeping your pet cool. We've got the best fans covered in our guide.

2. Provide them with plenty of water 

It goes with out saying that hydration is key to keeping your pets cool in a heatwave. Make sure you provide them with tons of water, put down extra bowls in large containers so they have access to as much water as they need and it's there whenever they want it. This obviously goes for small animals too, pop some extra bottles or bowls in their cages. 

Cox & CoX water bowls

(Image credit: Cox & CoX)

3. Pop ice cubes in their water bowls too 

Adding just couple of ice cubes to your pets water bowl will keep the water fresher and cooler for longer. The RSPCA also recommend making some icy treats, try things like freezing chicken or beef stock, or one great idea is to fill a Kong with water and treats and freeze that. 

Dog in this grass with a toy

(Image credit: Pure Pet Food)

4. Take your pets swimming 

Talking specifically about dogs here probably, unless you have a swimming, water loving cat. But consider taking your dog to a nearby pond or lake that is safe for them to have a dip in. Alternatively, if you have the room in your garden, set up a paddling pool for them to have a splosh around in. 

5. Cool down cages with a wet towel 

For small animals like rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and birds draping a cool, damp towel over their cages can help lower the temperature and make it more comfortable for them, just make sure you don't cover the entire cage. 

6. Pop an iced bottle in their cages 

Alternatively you could pop an ice pack or a frozen water bottle into their cage, this will bring down the temperature of the cage but they can also lean against them to help regulate their body temperature. 

7. Get some cooling mats 

You can buy cooling mats that your pets can chill out on to help them cool down, or if you want a solution right now, pop an ice pack wrapped in a towel in their current bed. 

8. Don't leave your pets in the car 

You know the drill. Pets in hot cars is just a no go. Just a few minutes can be fatal so even if you crack a window don't risk it. If you do see an animal locked in a hot car during the heat wave and they look to be suffering or could potentially suffer the RSPCA actually advise you ring the police on 999. 

petplan dog image

(Image credit: Petplan)

9. Pets can wear suncream too 

Sounds adorable we know, but seriously your fair skinned pets will benefit from a bit of suncream, especially on their noses and ears. You can buy pet specific suncream online at Pets At Home (opens in new tab)

10. Look out for harmful wildlife

As the weather warms up, the amount of wildlife our pets might come into contact with increases. Bees usually don't pose a problem to our furry friends but if you can discourage them from chasing or playing with them, it could save them from a nasty sting. Usually a bee sting will be relatively harmless but if your pet does seem particularly irritated by it, or if it starts to swell significantly, it's best to see a vet.

Snakes, while not super common in UK gardens, do become more active in the warmer weather and while most won't be a threat to your pets, they should be avoided, and if your pet does get bitten take them to the vet immediately. 

Flystrike (opens in new tab) is also more of a risk in hot weather. It's a problem that tends to effect smaller animals like rabbits and guinea pigs, and is where flies lay eggs in the animal's fur. It can actually be fatal so make sure you are check twice a day for signs and if you do find any contact a vet straightaway. 

11. Take care of wildlife too 

Your pets aren't the only ones who might be needing a little extra help to stay cool during a heatwave, wild animals would also appreciate somewhere to cool down. Make sure if you have a bird bath in your garden it's full and also leave out a few small bowls of water too. 

Read more pet advice: 

Hebe joined the Real Homes team in early 2018 as Staff Writer before moving to the Livingetc team in 2021 where she took on a role as Digital Editor. She loves boho and 70's style and is a big fan of Instagram as a source of interiors inspiration. When she isn't writing about interiors, she is renovating her own spaces – be it wallpapering a hallway, painting kitchen cupboards or converting a van.