/ Travel & Leisure

Heatwave: how do you and your pets keep cool?

The Met Office has issued a heatwave alert for England this week. How do you and your pets beat the heat when temperatures rise?

It may sound obvious, but it’s always important to remember that staying hydrated in these conditions is essentialย โ€“ and that goes for our pets, too!

My two lurchers love the warmth of the sun and can regularly be found stretched out in patches of sunlight on the stairs or the kitchen floor, but it’s vital you make sure there’s always enough shade available if they need it.

Beat the heat

I tend to take them for walks in the early morning and evenings to avoid the more intense heat. It’s also important to remember that the pavement/tarmac can get very hot โ€“ so hot, in fact, that it can burn the pads on their feet.

If they start picking their feet up, it’s too hot for a walk. Dogs and other pets can suffer from heatstroke just like humans, so it’s worth knowing the signs.

When we’re out on our walks we always carry a dog water bottle with usย โ€“ not only for them to drink, but to drizzle over them if they need it. A water spritzer is also a good idea if you’re on the move.

Dogs are often fascinated by ice cubes and mine are no exception. They love chasing them around the kitchen floor then crunching them up. I’ve even found they’re especially fond of frozen yoghurt!

And it’s not just pets who need help keeping cool. The RSPB has advised people to leave water out in your garden for birds to drink and bathe in:

Your tips

Many of us enjoy making the most of the warm weather, but it can be easy to forget the effects of a heatwave on our furry friends.

I’ve learnt a lot over the years with my two lurchers, but I’m always interested in hearing how others go about keeping their pets cool when the sun starts blazing.

Whether you’ve got a dog, cat or any other pet, let us know your best tips for enjoying the warm weather safely.


Scoobie makes sure he gets the best spot in front of the fan (I know where I stand in the food chain!)

Scoobie (winner of the โ€˜Ziggy award for best Mascot 2028โ€™) always makes sure he gets the best spot in front of the fan (I know my place in the food chain)

Good to see you (and Scoobie!) over here on Convo, John ๐Ÿ™‚

As a style thing I am not overkeen on articles containing links that interfere with the reading speed. I normally ignore them. Today I did not and I can understand the ones that link to charities offering advice but the first one was a time-waster IMO.

I was curious on the likelihood of cats overheating as I have never had a cat that was dumb enough to get hot. Dogs of course are a different story. : )

One thing I thought would have been interesting is the percentage chances of overheating, and indeed if some breeds were far more prone than others. This would help owners more likely to be affected on a higher alert. My suspicions are heavy coated animals and those like bulldogs whos mass requires cooling.

Any chance of an article with more detail?

Here is an infographic with some detail:

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I cannot contribute about pets but I manage to cope with hot weather by trying to keep out of the sun and by moving to a cooler part of the house, depending on where the sun is. In this hot weather I tend to do gardening fairly late in the evening when it is cooler.

I’ve really struggled to sleep the last few nights because of the heat, so much so that I’ve invested in a Dyson fan. Set it last night to turn off after 2 hours – must have worked because I wasn’t awake when it switched off! Very quiet as well.

I just leave upstairs windows open at night and have no problem sleeping. In warm weather I sleep under a quilt cover. The duvet was washed and put in storage a couple of months ago.

I used to have a fan in my office at work because it had three large windows and did become very hot in summer, despite the windows being open and blinds down. I quite liked working at home in hot weather.

The heatwave is likely to bring the Giant Asian Hornets to life earlier than usual. From DEFRA:

“What should I do if I come across an Asian Hornet?

Stay away from their nests to avoid group attack, they do not generally sting without provocation.
Don’t run. They can fly faster than you can run and are intrigued by moving targets and consider running a provocation. Crouch low to the ground, stop moving and try to cover your head.
Giant hornets are excited by bright colours so wear brown or black.
They are drawn to perfume and aftershave.
They’re also agitated by the smell of alcohol.
Sightings should be sent with a photograph and location details to alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk
Do not under any circumstances disturb or provoke an active hornets’ nest
The cost of eradication on private land will be met by the Animal and Plant Health Agency, who can be contacted through Defra on the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. The Helpline is open Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm. There is an out of hours facility on the same number for reporting suspicion of disease in animals. You can also email apha.corporatecorrespondence@apha.gsi.gov.uk .

They won’t be allowed in after Brexit.

You can easily disturb a nest. I was suddenly aware of whizzing shapes followed by a couple of stings on one ear while emptying a compost heap last week. Only wasps, and I then saw the wonderful papery structure that they were building in the depths of the vegetation. I really couldn’t blame them as I was destroying their house. I went in crying to mrs r and she administered cider vinegar to the ear which rapidly recovered.

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Nasty, Malcolm. You were lucky to get away with just a couple of stings.

Interesting, I haven’t hear of Giant Asian Hornets before so thanks Ian for bringing them to our attention. I had to look them up so thought a couple of images might be appropriate:

We had a hornet in the house a few weeks ago, definitely not an Asian one. It was safely directed out of a window. We have always had them around here but they have never been a problem.

These photos could do with a scale added, Alfa, but they are not called GIANT without reason.

Here is some information about insect bits and stings, how to treat them: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/insect-bites-and-stings/ It’s worth having antihistamine cream handy.

Asian giant hornet
Vespa mandarinia japonica2.jpg
The Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia), including the subspecies Japanese giant hornet (V. m. japonica),[2] colloquially known as the yak-killer hornet,[3] is the world’s largest hornet, native to temperate and tropical Eastern Asia. They prefer to live in low mountains and forests, while almost completely avoiding plains and high-altitude climates. V. mandarinia creates nests by digging, co-opting pre-existing tunnels dug by rodents, or occupying spaces near rotted pine roots.[4] It feeds primarily on larger insects, colonies of other eusocial insects, tree sap, and honey from honey bee colonies.[5] Some dimensions of this hornet are a body length of 45 mm (1.8 in), a wingspan around 75 mm (3.0 in), and stinger length of 6 mm (0.24 in) which injects a large amount of potent venom.[6]

The Asian giant hornet is sometimes confused with the yellow-legged hornet (Vespa velutina), also known as the Asian hornet, an invasive species of major concern across Europe, including the UK.” Wiki
Asian Giant Hornet

Yellow legged hornet

Have you all seen the Which? Gardening group on Facebook? Definitely worth a look for this sort of thing https://www.facebook.com/groups/WhichGardening/?source_id=141323599261898

I wonder if there are any other garden/nature related summer warnings we need to be aware of – always happy to take suggestions/ideas for new convos ๐Ÿ™‚

Might be an idea to consider ticks and the issues related to them, Lyme being perhaps the most worrying. Dealing with wasp nests is also a useful topic and perhaps keeping bees could be very useful.

Thanks Ian. Definitely agree on the wasp nests – something my family has had to deal with a few times. I’ll look into making this happen.

Raising awareness of common problems and providing up to date advice would be useful. Some of the advice online is not very good and treatment for bites and stings is not all up to date.

NHS advice – avoid home remedies such as….vinegar….” Well, perhaps it was coincidental, but when mrs r gently massaged my ear with vinegar (cider, but no doubt others would do – maybe balsamic for the Italian Vespa) the pain and irritation from double wasp stings rapidly disappeared.

I think for bee stings the remedy was bicarbonate of soda, but I have not suffered a bee sting since I was rwo, when exploring our lawn I spotted this big yellow and black friend and picked it up to examine it more closely.

Massaging a bite or sting will help reduce the pain but it really needs to be done with an alcohol-soaked swab to minimise the risk of infection. Covering with a dressing can help avoid the risk of infection. We naturally scratch itchy skin and it’s not a good idea.

Bees leave their stings behind (and die as a result), so its important to remove them promptly to avoid more of their venom entering the wound.

When I was young the advice was to put oil or butter on burns and I have no doubt that this advice is still used. I presume that current advice is to use cold water until the pain stops.

It’s not strictly true that Bees die after stinging; human skin is such that a bee’s sting can become trapped in the epidermis, which can damage the bee fatally as it attempts to fly off but it’s not inevitable.

Yes โ€“ I should have said that if bees leave their stings behind they are likely to die. I cannot remember having had a bee sting, though I wish I could say the same about wasps.

My first bee sting was doing the same thing at the same age as Malcolm. The bee looked fluffy.

Full marks for observational skills but must try harder at background reading. ๐Ÿ

Is not the problem that the bees leave their sting and behind behind?

My dogs have a pool in the garden which we fill up in the summer. Only one uses it to cool down though. One of my dogs suffers from fits which we think is heat related so we need to be really careful (he is half husky, so thick fur).

My other two dogs have thin fur in places so we use child suncream to protect them from burning their skin, plus lots of shade in the garden.

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That article is totally (and three years) out of date, Duncan; two giant hornet nests were found in Tetbury, Gloucestershire last year. In April this year, an Asian hornet was found on a cauliflower in Bury, Greater Manchester, and was traced to a farm in Boston, Lincs.

From the British Beekeepers Association:
Vespa velutina, sometimes known as the ‘Asian hornet’ is an invasive non-native species from Asia. It has recently arrived in France where it is spreading rapidly. As a highly effective predator of insects, including honey bees and other beneficial species, it can cause significant losses to bee colonies, other native species and potentially ecosystems

Full article here:
And an identification leaflet link:

I don’t have a dog, but you can kreep them indoors, even better if you have the air conditioning

We’re set for another scorching weekend ahead. I was due to go to ‘DogFest’ but they cancelled it because of the predicted weather. Disappointing but understandable, got to do what’s best for the dogs. I was so sure this was my dogs year to win “Best Rescue” ๐Ÿ˜‚

I’m hoping the hosepipe ban will hold off so I can fill the paddling pool up for them!

Don’t they serve hot dogs at a DogFest, Alex?

Our local village fรชte centred around a dog show, but it was rather poorly attended this year by both canines and humans because of the weather. They presumably were not Mad Dogs and Englishmen.

Why do we always complain about the weather. It is comparatively cool here; my sister in law is currently relaxing in Canada – indoors because the temperature outdoors was 45C. I guess their vulnerable people get hit twice with their energy bills – in the winter for high heating costs and in the summer for their air conditioning. Spare a thought for those less well off than ourselves.

I learned a couple of nights ago on the World Service (I think) that they are fitting trackers to Asian Hornets that will lead exterminators to the nests and….well….exterminate them. If you were to be stung by such a beast I’d be careful where you put the body.

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Ate you saying only “the USA and UK” and that no one else has these?
It was no secret in 2013. But was it real………………..

I don’t believe either country yet has them:


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The above was developed by Prox Dynamics, a Norwegian company bought by FLIR Systems.

From Wiki.

A Black Hornet nano helicopter unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
The Black Hornet Nano is a military micro unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by Prox Dynamics AS of Norway, and in use by the Norwegian, the British Army and the armed forces of the Netherlands and Germany.

The unit measures around 10 ร— 2.5 cm (4 ร— 1 in) and provides troops on the ground with local situational awareness. They are small enough to fit in one hand and weigh just over half an ounce (16 g, including batteries).

The UAV is equipped with a camera, which gives the operator full-motion video and still images. They were developed as part of a ยฃ20 million contract for 160 units with Marlborough Communications Ltd.[1][2][3]

An operator can be trained to operate the Black Hornet in as little as 20 minutes. The air vehicle has three cameras; one looking forward, one looking straight down, and one pointing downward at 45 degrees. A Black Hornet package contains two helicopters, and since a 90% charge is reached in 20-25 minutes, the same as its hovering time, when one needs to be recharged the other is ready to fly.[4] Top speed is 11 mph (18 km/h).[5]

In October 2014, Prox Dynamics unveiled a version of its PD-100 Black Hornet with night vision capabilities, fitted with both long-wave infrared and day video sensors that can transmit video streams or high-resolution still images via a digital data-link with a 1 mi (1.6 km) range. Over 3,000 Black Hornets had been delivered to date.[6]……….

By September 2016, the PD-100 Black Hornet was in use by the militaries of 19 NATO-allied countries”.[16]

I have a cooling bandana that you put in the freezer and then around your dog’s neck. It’s great for walks in the heat.
A friend gives their dog watermelon โ€“ย get rid of the rind and all the pips and it’s great to cool them down and give them a few extra nutrients, too.

Hey Anna ๐Ÿ‘‹

The cold watermelon tip reminded me of catching this on Twitter the other day!

I am sorry to report that my cat has been a victim of The Great Melting of 2019. If I had the energy I would buy a watermelon on my way home for him to sit on but I am not keen on carrying one through 38 degree heat! ๐Ÿ˜‰