AS Britain basks in Saharan heat the Wigan branch of the RSPCA is urging animal-lovers to take extra care of their pets.
Animals suffer the same problems humans do, like overheating, dehydration and sunburn, officers warn.
Lisa Burnett, Branch Manager at Wigan, Leigh and District Branch in York Street, said: “Even after just one day of sunshine we have taken over 15 calls asking for advice on looking after rabbits, dogs and cats.
“It is essential that as summer approaches you look after the particular needs that your pet have.”
Pets are much less efficient at cooling themselves than people, so they are more susceptible to overheating.
Dogs and cats have sweat glands on their nose and pads of their paws.
They pant and drink water to cool down, so always have fresh, cool water available for pets.
Lisa added: “If you spend time out in the garden with your animals then make sure they have a shaded area to rest in too. For rabbits, you may need to move their hutch to a cooler spot and out of direct sunlight.
“Putting fresh vegetables out for your rabbits will also mean they get hydrated through their food as well as their drinking water.
“It is also vital to keep your pets groomed as the weather gets hotter – for rabbits and cats brush out excessive fur and if you have a long hair rabbit, consider cropping your bunny’s coat a bit shorter.
“For dogs, keep their coats trimmed so they feel much cooler - you may need to apply sunscreen to tips of ears also.”
Culturally, dogs are more a part of our life and our lifestyle than ever before — going along for a ride in the car, whether running errands or on the family holiday.
Lisa said: “Just as with children, we must be aware of the danger in leaving our dog inside a parked car in the summer heat.
“Simply parking in the shade or leaving the windows cracked is not enough. Windows collect light and trap heat inside the car, sending the temperature to dangerous and deadly levels rapidly.
“A car’s inside temperature can increase as much as 40 degrees in an hour - with 80 per cent of that increase within the first 30 minutes.”