Help Animals in Hot Weather!

Temperatures are rising each year and as temperatures soar over the summer months, we need to be mindful to look out for animals under our care along with our local wildlife and farmed animals who could be struggling to cope! Find out how you can help them withstand the heat.


Every summer many dogs tragically suffer and die from heatstroke, caused by overheating, for example, from being left in a car or during exercise.

Dogs die in hot cars 

Each year we hear tragic reports of dogs who suffer and even die from being left in hot cars. Parked cars can reach unbearable temperatures very quickly, even when left in the shade or with a window open. If a dog’s temperature goes above 40°C, irreversible damage to the brain and internal organs can occur.  

If you spot a dog who has been left alone in a hot car, please call 999 immediately. Their life could depend on you.  

For more information, please read the latest advice from the RSPCA

Dogs can die walking in hot weather 

In hot weather, your dog’s normal walk or ball game can be potentially dangerous and lead to heatstroke. Studies have found that most cases of heatstroke are triggered by exercise, such as walking, playing or running. However, heatstroke can occur even when a dog sits in the heat for too long. 

To avoid heatstroke: 

  • Walk your dog first thing in the morning, while it is still cool, and leave balls and toys at home. Consider skipping walks altogether during heatwaves.  
  • When you do go out for walks, take plenty of fresh water and a water bowl for your dog to drink from. 
  • Ensure they have access to shady areas while outside and ventilated rooms while indoors.  
  • Restrict play to indoors.

Signs of heatstroke:  

  • Panting 
  • Drooling and foaming at the mouth 
  • Bright red gums 
  • Shaking 
  • Weakness and collapse 
  • Confusion 
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea 
  • Seizures 

 Dogs who receive early treatment are likely to make a full recovery. However, if treatment is delayed, organ damage and even death is more likely.  

If you notice any signs of heatstroke, contact your vet immediately and start first aid. For advice on giving first aid to dogs with heatstroke, visit the PDSA’s website.

Also keep in mind that walking dogs on hot surfaces, such as concrete or tarmac, can burn their paw pads.


Blue-green algae, which can be highly poisonous, or even fatal to dogs can sometimes be present in bodies of water. It can reach higher concentrations during warm/sunny weather making it more important to be vigilant. Don’t let your dog drink from or swim in water known, or that you suspect, to contain it. Look out for warning signs posted around a known effected site. For more information on blue-green algae, visit the PDSA’s website.


As the weather warms up, cats are at risk of heatstroke – a very serious condition that can cause severe dehydration, organ damage and, if not treated quickly, eventually death. Flat-faced cat breeds are at much higher risk of heatstroke, even on seemingly cool days.

To avoid heatstroke:

  • Make sure cats always have access to shade and water.
  • Always check sheds, greenhouses, conservatories and cars before shutting them in case there is a cat inside.
  • Never leave cats in a hot room or somewhere with poor ventilation.
  • Close the curtains in one of the rooms that you know your cats like to use, as this will help keep the room cool for them to use throughout the day.
  • Avoid travelling with your cat when it’s hot. It’s unusual to take your cat out in the car, but if it’s essential you make a trip, make sure your cat has air flowing around them, is out of direct sunshine and is a comfortable temperature, especially if they are prone to stress. Never leave them in a car on a warm day.
  • Keeping your cat at a healthy weight will help them to regulate their body temperature when the weather warms up.

Signs of heatstroke:

  • Panting and fast breathing
  • Bright/dark red or sometimes very pale gums
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea (sometimes containing blood)
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Wobbliness and collapse
  • Seizures
  • Blindness
  • Unconsciousness

It’s more dangerous to the cat the longer their body temperature stays high, so the quicker they are cooled down and taken for treatment by a vet, the better their chance of full recovery.

If you notice any signs of heatstroke, contact your vet immediately and start first aid. For general information and advice, including giving first aid to cats with heatstroke, visit the PDSA’s website.


  • Alongside drinking water, birds need water to bathe in order to keep their feathers in good condition. A bird bath is an easy option. Site it away from bushes and trees to minimise predation from cats and other animals. Make sure you clean and refill it every day. A garden pond is another asset in hot weather. Ensure gently sloping ‘beach’ areas where birds can drink and bathe. These areas also offer an escape route for any wildlife who may accidently fall into deeper water.
  • Old bowls, plastic mushroom boxes and cut-down plastic bottles can provide additional, and often much-needed additional watering sites.
  • Provide food for the birds whose natural food supply, including insects and worms, may be less available during long spells of heat. This will help the birds, and their dependent young, to get through such difficult periods. This can include a conventional bird feeder or maybe grow a wildflower patch which will attract insects and provide seeds in due course. You can find a selection of wildflower seeds here.
  • Ensure that nest boxes aren’t sited in the full glare of the sun where they can quickly reach critical temperatures inside! Bird nest boxes should ideally face between north and east. Some shade in the form of a small tree or climbing vine will help with shade but also give useful cover when the fledglings emerge.
  • Cover water butts to prevent birds, searching for drinking and bathing water, from falling in and drowning.


  • Hedgehogs are vulnerable mammals during the summer, with high numbers of reports of dehydrated hedgehogs. If you see a hedgehog during daylight hours there may be a problem, as they are normally active at night. Lactating mums will need extra food and water when supporting their young. Dry conditions will reduce certain natural food such as worms and slugs so mums may have to forage for longer to be able to feed their babies. This can lead to them being active past dawn and before dusk. If a hedgehog though appears to be underweight or weak (including not curling into ball when approached) then seek advice from a local wildlife rescue.
  • Leave out fresh water and food each evening to provide hedgehogs with extra hydration/nutrition. Avoid bread and milk which can upset their stomachs. Visit the British Hedgehog Preservation Society for more information on feeding hedgehogs.
  • You can cut a hole in your fence/gate to allow hedgehogs unrestricted access to a larger area and so more access to water and food. Ensure the hole is at least 13cm square, this is made easier with our ready-made hedgehog highway. Alternatively keep the bottom of fencing or gates more than 13cm off the ground so hedgehogs can still roam between gardens.

Larger mammals

  • In times of extended warmer weather keeping hydrated and fed can be a struggle for some wild animals, and their young. If you come across any animals that look to be in trouble, keep a safe distance, contact your local wildlife rescue for advice. They might even be able to come out and help the animal. For badgers there’s also your local badger protection group who can help. You can find your local group here.


  • Leave areas of garden with leaf litter, logs, rockeries (including piled paving slabs), and scrubby vegetation where amphibians can shelter from hot weather and predators.
  • Avoid disturbing their hiding spots.


  • If you have fish in your own pond then keep it regularly topped-up, preferably with rainwater from a collection butt. If you are using tap water, make sure it has been in a container for at least a day before adding it to the pond – this will allow harmful chlorine to dissipate.
  • If you are feeding fish, be conscious of not ‘overfeeding’ them – any uneaten food will decay producing waste compounds which are more toxic in warmer water.
  • Providing natural shading around your pond helps to limit the water warming effects of direct sunshine.
  • Varieties of oxygenating water weed normally help to keep a pond healthy and extra aeration can be used to boost oxygen levels during a hot spell. If power is accessible, then an air stone unit emitting bubbles can help boost oxygen levels. Fountain-type aerators are another effective tool. If you’re using these, make sure that you have a ‘pre-pump filter unit’ fitted to the water pump inlet to stop aquatic animals being sucked in and harmed.
  • In the wider environment, warmer weather along with lower rainfall can reduce water levels in wild ponds, rivers, lakes and canals. When there are lower dissolved oxygen levels, as the water warms, there’s an increased risk of fish populations being stressed and starting to struggle. If you see fish gasping on the surface and/or dead fish, either floating or on the bottom, please report this via the Environment Agency incident hotline on 0800 807060.


  • Let’s not forget our struggling pollinators. Bees and other insects need water to drink and when surface water is scarce in the summer, a drinking bowl can be a lifeline. Fill a dish with water, add some pebbles to create raised perches, this will help visitors to drink safely without the risk of drowning.
  • Floating a piece of flat wood in any exposed water, such as a pond, swimming pool or open water butt, can save bees and bugs who may inadvertently get themselves trapped.
  • When hot, dry conditions carry on we may see wild plants start to die off. Keeping plants watered helps to maintain food plants vital for insects to feed on, shelter in, and to use to complete their life cycles.

Farmed animals

  • If you see farmed animals in hot weather that don’t have access to clean water, and/or shade, and believe they are in danger then you should contact the RSPCA directly on 0300 1234 999 . Alternatively contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency on 0300 0200 301.
  • If you see and have concerns about farmed animals being transported in hot weather e.g. a vehicle has broken down or is in a slow traffic jam and the animals appear to be compromised, then you should contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency immediately. You can also contact your local Trading Standards department of the local authority. In ‘extreme’ scenarios e.g. if a vehicle has been involved in an accident, or is on fire, then also call 999 making sure that the police/fire brigade are aware.

General tips

  • It’s much cooler out of the sun, offer wildlife somewhere cool to find relief from the heat. Trees, shrubs, a pile of logs, an undisturbed corner or unmown grass left to get long all do the trick.
  • Take care if you do use a lawnmower or strimmer – hedgehogs in long grass may curl up if they feel threatened, and toads tend to squat down instead of running away. It’s a good idea to pre-check an area with a stick, to locate and help to disperse any wildlife before using these machines but there still could be casualties.
  • It’s important to drain or cover paddling pools overnight to prevent any animals being attracted to the water, entering it and then drowning.
  • Always leave watering cans empty after use as these can act as fatal traps for wildlife seeking water in hot spells.