Money Matters Team

Summer healthcare tips for pets

By Money Matters Team 15/06/2020

Whilst we love summer, it has its drawbacks - as anyone who suffers from hay fever will know. But did you know that your pet can struggle with some of the same niggling health problems that we do?

It's not just overheating you need to be careful of, here are the other summer specific health problems to watch out for.


Pets might have a thick layer of fur but the strong rays of the sun can still penetrate, which can cause the skin to burn. Short-haired dogs like Staffordshire Bull Terriers and Dalmatians are particularly at risk, but all pets should be protected on areas where they do not have much fur, like the belly, ears or nose.

Whilst human sunscreen has zinc in it, which can be dangerous if ingested by animals, there's actually pet sun cream on the market with all the SPF necessary to make sure their skin doesn't burn.

Hay Fever

Do cats and dogs get hay fever? The surprising answer is yes, they do. In actual fact, they're more likely to suffer from it than we are because pollen can stick to their fur. But whereas we end up with streaming eyes and itchy throats from the annoying ailment, dogs and cats are more likely to suffer an itchy, redness and soreness of the skin.

So how can you prevent it? Antihistamines are less effective for animals, so instead it's recommended that you hose pets’ bodies and paws down after they've been in the great outdoors. If symptoms become more serious, then visit your local vet for specialist treatment.

Overheating and heatstroke

Pets should never be left in hot cars or other hot, enclosed spaces. Temperatures quickly rise within minutes in a car on a hot day and our small friends can react really badly to overheating. In general short-nosed dogs such as pugs or bulldogs are especially susceptible to overheating whilst outside, so it's advised to walk them and all other dogs first thing at morning or at dusk, when it won't be as hot. Be especially mindful of hot tarmac or pavements, which can burn your pet’s paws.

It's important on hot days to keep a close watch on your pet for any signs they might be suffering from heatstroke. Look out for heavy panting, excessive drooling, lethargy, bright red gums and tongue and rapid heart rate. If you’re worried, cool them down with cold, damp flannels or towels, move them to a cool area in the shade and make sure they have lots of fresh water to drink. If symptoms persist, it’s time to get on the phone to your vet.

Bee or wasp stings

Dogs are more likely to be stung on their face due to their inquisitive nature and are also at risk of being stung on their noses, mouths or throats if they try to defend themselves. If they're stung in these places or have had an immediate allergic reaction to any sting it's worth a visit to the vet, particularly if they look like they're in a lot of discomfort.


There are a few foods found at picnics and other summer parties that shouldn't be fed to furry friends.

Grapes and raisins contain a substance that can cause kidney failure in dogs, so are a total no go. Nuts can also cause serious stomach upset because of their high fat content, as can chocolate and coffee, which contain methylxanthines. Be careful not to feed your cats and dogs at BBQs too, as undercooked meat can have salmonella or E.coli bacteria in it, which can play havoc on your pet’s digestive system. And never give pets chicken bones – they can snap and splinter and injure your pet.

Bear all this in mind, and it can be a stress-free summer for you and your pet.

This Money Matters post aims to be informative and engaging. Though it may include tips and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. Sainsbury's Bank accepts no responsibility for the opinions and views of external contributors and the content of external websites included within this post. Some links may take you to another Sainsbury's Bank page. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.