To stay cool in the sun, just use your common sense. Avoid the hottest times of the day (10am to 2pm but often now longer with climate change heatwaves). Drink lots of water or iced tea. Wear loose-fitting natural fabrics (cotton, hemp, linen) and wear big floppy hats.
Conventional sunscreens are packed with chemicals and also pollute our oceans. So called nano-free natural sunscreens are better, but know that most contain zinc or titanium dioxide (these are toxic to pets if licked). So shower off before letting them lick you! Wear sustainable sunglasses with wraparound frames, to protect your eyes.
Green People makes good organic sunscreens for adults and children. Made with rosemary, green tea and edelweiss, they are suitable for prickly heat, and contain soothing aloe vera. There are scent-free versions plus moisturisers with in-built high-protection SPF. Most of their squeezy tubes are made from sugar-cane plastic, and easy to recycle.
Suntribe is a good brand of natural sunscreen, again for adults and children. Their site has a good post on the harmful effect (to humans and the planet) of conventional sunscreens, which includes disrupting hormones and damaging coral reefs. They say to avoid the sun from 11am to 4pm and never expose babies to direct sunlight, also be careful at high altitudes. Here’s their excellent chart to help you understand SPF factors:
how to prevent heatstroke in pets
All creatures (including cats) can get heatstroke. Never leave dogs in cars (not even warm with the air conditioning and window cracked), they can heat up much quicker and die . If you see a dog trapped in a hot car, smash the window, pour cool (not cold) water over and call for help.
Blue Cross has tips including to ensure dogs have access to large bowls filled to the brim with fresh clean water (take travel bowls on walks). If pavements are too hot for your hands, they’re too hot for paws. Only exercise in cooler mornings and evenings (and avoid for heatwaves). If they don’t play with it, gently mist with cool water on hot days. Although tempting to let dogs swim, be careful as this may mask signs of heatstroke (don’t let them play ball in the water, or exert more energy). A shallow paddling pool in the garden without toys may be a good idea.
Groom regularly to avoid matted fur (stops regulating temperature). All dogs (not just light nosed-ones) are at risk of sunburn as are some breeds of cats. Talk to your vet about safe sunscreens (never use human ones as they contain toxic ingredients like zinc or titanium oxide).
Adders are common in hot weather. While they tend to stay out of the way of humans and dogs, your pet may encounter one while exploring heathland, woodland or sandy areas. Adders can be dangerous to dogs if disturbed because they bite when threatened. If you think an adder has bitten your dog, call your vet straight away. Dog-Friendly Cornwall has tips on when to avoid walking (‘safe hours’ were previously before 9am and after 7pm), but rising temperatures now means you may have to adapt to avoid basking snakes – see post for more info.