WITH the summer heatwave continuing, a host of charities and animal lovers have spoken out on the need for extra care for your pets in the heat.

Just this week, the Echo reported on PCSOs in Southend who were forced to smash a car window to rescue a dog left in the vehicle in boiling hot temperatures.

With no end for the warm weather in sight, Cats Protection has warned about the possibility of cats developing skin cancer with too much sun, while the RSPCA is urging dog owners to avoid exercising their pets during the hottest parts of the day as the UK is gripped by sweltering weather.

Vanessa Sawyer, 47, who volunteers with the Dogs Trust, Basildon, said: “I know that summer can be a hugely difficult time for animal charities and shelters as a whole.

“Our numbers definitely go up. It is hard to say why but it is the same every year.

“Of course there is the major issue with the summer, which is the heat, particularly this year with this improved weather.

“The main advice has to be that heatstroke can develop very quickly, so if you notice your dog panting heavily, seems lethargic or is salivating more than normal or has darkened gums, get them inside and cooled down.

“Lots of people also don’t realise dogs, especially thin coated dogs, can suffer from sunburn as well, so keep them inside on exceptionally sunny days, and don’t be afraid to apply suncream, particularly to their nose and ears.”

Cats Protection has issued a warning to owners, urging them to take care with soaring temperatures putting cats at risk of skin cancer, since they lack a pigment called melanin.

The charity issued the warning after one cat in Wales, Tiara, had her ears removed due to sun damage.

“Not everyone realises that cats can develop skin cancer from too much sun exposure,” said Cats Protection spokesperson Louise Waters.

“Over time, the damage caused can increase the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma which is a skin cancer that occurs when the skin becomes damaged from overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

“The best way to protect your cat is by keeping him or her indoors during the hottest part of the day, particularly during the summer months.”

More than 1,800 calls regarding animals and heat exposure were handled by the RSPCA nationally between July 1 and July 22.

Operational superintendent Lee Hopgood said: “There is a very serious side to keeping pets cool over summer as animals can suffer from heatstroke which could be fatal, especially if left in a hot car, conservatory or caravan.

“Pets may struggle to realise when they are too hot so make sure they have constant access to shade and don’t over exercise them in the heat.

“Remember if the pavement is too hot for your hand then it will be too hot for their paws.”

The RSPCA advice during the hot weather also includes never leaving pets unattended in hot environments, freezing water bowls before filling them to keep the liquid cool, giving pets damp towels to lie on, letting dogs lie in a paddling pool and using pet-safe sun cream to protect their skin.