Press release

Keeping pets healthy during hot weather

Extra care should be taken to protect pets in the current hot weather, Defra’s Chief Vet Nigel Gibbens said today.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Extra care should be taken to protect pets in the current hot weather, Defra’s Chief Vet Nigel Gibbens said today. In a statement issued jointly with the RSPCA and British Veterinary Association, Mr Gibbens urged the public to think about the effects of hot weather on their pets and to take the right steps to ensure their welfare.

Mr Gibbens said:

“You’d think that everybody would know about the dangers of leaving animals in hot cars, but it was still happening last year when we saw some really tragic cases of dogs dying because they were trapped inside cars in high temperatures. This just shouldn’t happen these days.

“As it gets hotter this summer, all pet owners need to think about how they can take simple steps to ensure their pets are happy and healthy during the warm weather.”

Mr Gibbens said there were some simple guidelines pet owners should follow:

  • don’t leave pets in vehicles in the heat;
  • make sure pets have adequate water to drink;
  • provide adequate ventilation for their pets at all times;
  • avoid exercising pets in the heat of the day; and
  • provide necessary protection from the sun in the hottest part of the day.

BVA President Harvey Locke said:

“Dogs should never be left in cars by themselves, even when the day is warm as opposed to hot, it can quickly become very hot inside a vehicle. Leaving the car windows open and a bowl of water is not enough. As a dog can only cool down through its tongue and paw pads, it cannot cool down quickly enough to cope with the rising heat.

“Dogs still have thick coats on when humans are walking around in t-shirts and shorts. I would like owners to remember that a dog won’t stop enjoying itself because it is hot, so it is up to the owner to stop the animal before it suffers - something that is particularly important as more and more people jog or run with their dogs.”

Jude Clay from the RSPCA said:

“All too often, owners make the mistake of thinking that it is sufficient to leave a bowl of water or a window open for their pet but this is not enough to protect your pet from heatstroke, which can have fatal consequences.  The RSPCA’s message is: ‘Dogs die in hot cars. Don’t leave your dog alone in a car.”

The temperature inside a car in full sunlight can quickly rise to double the temperature outside the car. Signs that dogs are overheating can include faster and heavier panting, with them being more active with barking or whining.  They might produce more saliva that normal, have extreme panting and dark coloured gums.  A dogs eyes may become glassy and it may appear unconscious.

Detecting overheating early and treating it promptly is essential to dogs recovering successfully.  Dogs should be taken to a cool shaded place, given water to drink, and sprayed with cool water.  Dogs can also be cooled down by blowing cool air from a fan over them.  Pet owners should get advice from a vet immediately if the dog does not respond promptly.


Pet owners and keepers responsible for ensuring that the welfare needs of their animals are met through the Animal Welfare Act 2006

Advice on how to protect the welfare of pets during journeys was published in 2006 and can be found at

The RSPCA has provided advice for pet owners at

Published 3 June 2011