Summer safety tips for cats

How to keep your cat cool in summer

Cats can’t keep cool as easily as we can. Although cats are originally from a desert environment, they used to avoid problems by staying in the shade during the hot days and hunting and being active at dawn and dusk. They can only sweat through their paw pads and will only pant like dogs when they’re extremely hot. We’ve also bred some cats to have much thicker coats which means it’s harder for them to keep cool.



Does it matter if I have a long haired or a short haired cat?

Any cat can struggle with the heat and it’s important for all cat owners to be aware of the signs of overheating and heatstroke. Common signs include:

  • Panting
  • Dribbling
  • Wobbling or struggling to stand up.

Some breeds will struggle a little more with heat than others, be aware if you have a cat that can be described below that it may be a little tougher to cool them down!

  • Flat-faced breeds. Cat breeds with short noses – like Persian or British Shorthairs – can have difficulty breathing because of the extra tissues at the back of their throat. Breathing problems can get much worse in hot weather
  • Fluffy cats. Cats with long or thick fur will feel the heat more than their short haired friends. They might need extra help to cool down in a heatwave and need regular grooming. They might even appreciate a summer hair cut!
  • Older cats or cats with health problems. These cats are generally more sensitive to the heat and are more prone to serious problems like heatstroke. It may be safer to keep poorly cats inside the home, so that they don’t become overwhelmed by the heat outside and not be able to get themselves to somewhere more comfortable.
  • Overweight cats. Carrying some extra weight puts your cat’s body under extra strain. This can make it harder for them to cope with the heat.

Outdoor cat?

It can be tricky to help your cat keep cool if they love to be out exploring, but you can make sure your garden is a shady haven on summer days:

  • Create shade. Trees and shrubs create great natural shade for garden-loving cats. You can also hang a sheet or blanket up to create a shady spot.
  • Garden drinks. Make sure your cat has access to fresh, clean water when they’re in the garden.
  • Mornings and evenings. Let your cat out to explore in the morning and evening when the weather is likely to be cooler. Try to keep them inside during the hottest part of the day.
  • Sun protection. Cats with white or thin fur will need some extra protection from the sun so stock up on pet-safe sun cream.

Indoor cat?

Here’s how you can keep your cat cool if they prefer to lounge around the house on hot days:

  • Plenty of water. Have a couple of water bowls around the house so your cat won’t have to go far to find a drink. This is especially important if you have more than one cat, as they don’t like sharing bowls. You can find more tips on keeping your cat hydrated here.
  • Avoid warm rooms. Keep your cat out of rooms that are likely to get very hot, like conservatories. Cats can also quickly overheat in cars and caravans.
  • Create a cool room. Encourage them to spend time in a nice, cool area of the house. Make the room enticing with places to rest: if it’s very hot you could provide some ceramic tiles as a nice place to kick back and keep cool. Offer your cat a couple of healthy treats so they associate the room with something special!
  • Open windows. Cats are curious by nature and the cool breeze from an open window will be very temping for them. Stop your cat from having a serious accident by putting mesh or netting across your windows.

Does grooming my cat make a difference?

In short, yes! Regular grooming will help your cat keep so much cooler, especially long haired cats. A simple zoom groom every day will remove excess hair and will also reduce the time taken by your cat to do this which will help keep them cooler also.

Seek advice from your local groomer, quite often they have great tips and cat depending, they may be able to groom your cat.

Our top tips for keeping cats cool in summer

  • Ice cubes might be good to cool us down, but they can also cool your cat down while encouraging them to play. Pop a couple of ice cubes on a hard floor and encourage your cat to bat them around.
  • Always make sure there are plenty of shady areas for your cat to go, both outside and inside.
  • Put water bowls in different places around your house and outside so your cat always has a source of water.
  • Try popping an ice pack or frozen water bottle wrapped in a blanket in one of their beds or an area they like to sleep so they have somewhere cool to lean on.
  • Play with them at dawn and dusk – when the weather is coolest – so they’re less likely to run around during the hotter hours of the day.

Summer safety tips

Orchard House Veterinary Centres summer safety tips!

  1. Plan your walk
    Plan the route of your walk to include plenty of shade and remember to take plenty of water on your journey. Walk your dog in the early morning or late in the evening when temperatures are cooler so they will be at reduced risk of heatstroke and try stay in the shade as much as possible.  Be particularly careful if your dog is unfit, obese or suffers from breathing difficulties.
  2. How hot is the ground?
    Tarmac can get very hot in the sun, check it with your hand before letting your dog walk on it so they do not burn their paws. Place your hand on the ground for seven seconds, if it is too hot for your hand, it is too hot for your dog! Either walk your dog later or stick to sheltered grassy areas.
  3. Provide shade and water
    Make sure your dog has access to plenty of water and shade, this is so important and will make them feel much more comfortable.
  4. Don’t let them get burnt
    It is a common misconception that dogs cannot get sunburnt, they can, and they do! Use pet-safe sun cream on exposed parts of their skin such as the tips of their ears and nose and avoid direct sunlight where you can – ask your vet for further advice if needed.

What to do if your dog overheats

If your dog is too hot and unable to reduce their body temperature by panting, they could develop heatstroke which can be fatal. Dogs with certain diseases or on some types of medication are also more prone to heatstroke. If you have any concerns about the heat and the medication your pet takes, please contact us!

Some dogs are more prone to heatstroke than others, such as very old or young dogs, those with thick heavy coats or those with short, flat faces (such as Pugs and Boxers). Where possible, avoid overheating, even in the shade!

What are the symptoms of heatstroke in dogs?

  • Panting heavily
  • Appears lethargic, drowsy or uncoordinated
  • Drooling excessively
  • Vomiting
  • Collapsing

If your dog is showing any of the signs, please contact your vet immediately.

Dogs die in hot cars

Dogs Die In Hot Cars

Think twice about any car trips with your dog – avoid congested roads or busy times of day when they could overheat in the car if you are caught up in traffic. If driving with your dog plan your journey considering cooler times of the day and places to take breaks.

In just 20 minutes, a dog could die in a hot car. Winding a window down is not enough to help your dog – never leave you dog in a warm car. If you see a dog in distress in a hot car, call 999 immediately.


Emergency first aid for dogs with heatstroke

For the best chance of survival, dogs suffering from heatstroke urgently need to have their body temperature lowered, but this needs to be done gradually or they can go into shock. If your dog has collapsed, call your vet immediately as they may advise attending as a matter of emergency rather than starting treatment yourself.

What can you do to help if you suspect your dog may be overheating?

  • Move the dog to a shaded and cool area.
  • Immediately start pouring small amounts of room temperature (not cold) water onto the dog’s body (cold water may cause shock). If possible, you can also use wet   towels or place the dog in the breeze of a fan. If using wet towels, be sure to re-apply water regularly and not to keep the dog constantly covered – sometimes this can heat them up instead of cooling them down.
  • Allow the dog to drink small amounts of room temperature water.
  • Continue to pour small amounts of room temperature water onto the dog until their breathing starts to settle but not so much that they start to shiver.
  • Once the dog is starting to get cooler and their breathing is settling down, call your veterinary surgery so they can be checked over.

If you have any questions or concerns or if you are worried your dog may have heatstroke, do not hesitate to contact us!

National Veterinary Awards 2019

What’s new at Orchard House?

For all the latest news from Orchard House, click here.

Black Labrador.

Orchard House Well Pet Club

Your pet’s health and happiness is our number one priority. We promise to ‘care for your pets as if they were our pets’.

At Orchard House we understand that you want to give your pets the best treatment. Our Well Pet Club makes routine healthcare simple and more affordable. A monthly Direct Debit covers:
annual vaccinations, 12 months of parasite control, two six-monthly health examinations with a vet, plus discounts on may other products and services.

For more information, view our leaflet, please call us or pop into the surgery.

Yellow dog project

Have you heard of the yellow dog project?

The Yellow Dog Project was created to bring awareness to dogs who need space while training, recovering from surgery, or being rehabilitated.

Why might a dog need space?

There are many reasons why a dog may need space.  It may…

  • Have health issues
  • Be a rescue dog being rehabilitated. The world can be a very scary place for these dogs.
  • Have had a bad experience with another dog or is just not like the kind of friendly dogs which always want to say “Hi!”
  • Be a bitch may be in heat
  • Be in training
  • Be very old and arthritic
  • Be nervous or shy and other dogs cause it stress

In short, a yellow marker on a dog means it needs some space.

please visit for more details.

Puppy pictures


We welcomed 11, yes 11, German Shepherd puppies today for their first vaccinations. Staff were queuing up for a cuddle so much so we had to check their pockets when it was time for them to go home.

Pet Obesity

Do you give your pet your own food as a treat? If so, you are not alone. A PDSA Paw Report last year found that 26% of dogs are fed scraps and dinner left overs.

Obesity can cause your pet significant health issues, not only does the extra weight impact on their quality of life, it may shorten their life and increase the risk of other health issues. If a pet is overweight when they are young, chances are they will be overweight as an adult too.

But don’t worry, our nurses are here to help. Their free weight clinics are an opportunity to review your pets current diet, treats intake and levels of exercise. By using this holistic approach we will look at the best way for you to help reduce your pets weight. This may be as simple as decreasing food intake and increasing exercise. Alternatively, there are weight reduction diets that can be bought, which will see a quicker weight loss. Your pets bespoke plan will include body measurements and weight checks that will be monitored to review progress and together we can celebrate their success.

Meet Bailey

Bailey was a rescue dog, lucky enough to fall on his paws and find Lyndsey to love and care for him. Lyndsey now admits that she was making up for lost time and love, and Bailey was spoilt and fed a few too many extra treats, and as a result carried an extra few pounds!

When he started his weight loss plan in November 2016, Bailey had a body score of 8/9. He has made massive progress and now has a score of 6/9, his target is 4.5/9 or 5/9. Bailey’s current Body Fat Index is 35-40%, the ideal being 20-25%, so still has a little way to go.

Lyndsey is delighted with his progress and feels he is grown massively in confidence, visits to the vets are no longer feared, but enjoyed. He enjoys getting the attention of all the Orchard House team.

For more information give one of our nurses a call today or book online

Our vets & their pets outside the practice.

Owners nominate vet’s practice for pet ‘Oscars’

Valentines reminder

Chocolate poisoning in dogs continues to be amongst the most common toxicities we see each year. With it being Valentine’s Day, it must be remembered that chocolate-based treats and gifts can be toxic to our pets.

Chocolate is made from cocoa beans, the dried and partially fermented seeds of Theobroma cacao native to the deep tropical region of Central America. The toxic constituent, theobromine, is a related to caffeine.  Chocolate also contains a small amount of caffeine.

The amount of theobromine in chocolate products varies considerably due to natural differences in cocoa beans as well as the ingredients of products. There may also be some genetic susceptibility to theobromine toxicity in certain breeds. White chocolate is very low in theobromine and therefore considered non-toxic.

In dogs, the most common clinical signs include vomiting, abdominal discomfort, diarrhoea, weeing a lot and bloating. Theobromine intoxication will also stimulate the myocardium and CNS stimulation – resulting in tremors, high heart  rate and a fever. There is also the risk of pancreatitis following ingestion of chocolate products that contain a large amount of sugar and fat.

Treatment is largely supportive with particular emphasis on the management of cardiovascular and neurological effects, as well as rehydration. The prognosis is generally good and most dogs make a full recovery within 48-72 hours.  There have been very few fatal cases reported (about 5 in 1000).

Chocolate is also toxic to cats, rodents and rabbits, but there are limited case reports, therefore a toxic dose is yet to be established. Cats seem less inclined to eat chocolate, although, nationally, there are a few cases each year where significant clinical effects are seen.

If your dog (or other pet) has eaten more than a small amount of dark or continental chocolate, call us for advice as soon as possible.

On Valentine’s Day, you may be lucky enough to receive a bouquet of flowers from a loved one. Some of these flowers can be hazardous to pets.

A flower of particular concern is the Lily. Lillium species can cause kidney failure in cats.  All parts of the plant are toxic, including the pollen. Ingestion of less than one leaf may cause severe poisoning. In one case, a cat developed severe clinical signs after playing in a box in which the owner had received a delivery of lilies. This cat was reportedly only exposed to the residual pollen inside the box. Treatment is essential in all cases, with focus on the prevention of kidney failure and the skin should be washed thoroughly to remove any residual pollen on the coat.  Kidney failure following lily exposure has not been observed in other animals, however, ingestion of plant material may cause some upset stomach problems.

Other flowers that may be found in bouquets are stated below:

  • Eating Roses (yes, it happens) will often cause gastrointestinal signs including vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain are expected in cats and dogs.
  • There are numerous species of tulip commonly available as cut flowers or as bulbs for growing in gardens and parks. The bulbs are particularly irritant. Ingestion may lead to drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea, flatulence and abdominal pain.
  • Daffodils contain alkaloids, found in all parts of the plant. These components have irritant, emetic and purgative actions. Mild gastrointestinal irritation is most common. More severe cases have shown dehydration, collapse, hypothermia, low blood pressure, slow heart rate and high blood sugar, although such cases are very rare.

Hydrangea commonly causes vomiting, as well as, abdominal discomfort, diarrhoea, lethargy and depression. Dermatitis has been reported in humans who regularly handle the plants, but it has not been reported in animal exposed.

Ending on a positive note, Happy Valentine’s Day to all our loved pets – just stay off the chocolates and flowers and stick to pet treats…