As you read this article you may be sweltering in another mini heatwave. Increasingly the message is out there that our pets need to be kept cool in the summer. As a result of increased awareness we are seeing new products available to help keep our pets cool. Cooling mats for pets have become very popular, but as their popularity has increased so have reported incidents of them being ingested by animals.

So – are these cooling mats toxic? There are two types of cooling mat – one is just filled with water, the other is filled with slightly cleverer “pressure activated cooling gel”. The pressure activated mats contain a gel comprising sodium sulphate, cellulose and water. The good news is that the contents of these mats is not toxic in itself, the main risk is that if a large quantity is eaten (as with any material) then it can build up and cause a blockage in the intestines. Obviously eating the mats is still best avoided but if it does happen it is not a screaming emergency.

New technology aside you still need to remember the basics – exercise your dogs in the cool at the beginning and end of the day, avoid hot tarmac pavements, never leave dogs in hot cars and remember – you have to be the grown-ups; dogs will not realise they are overheating if they are having fun so take regular breaks with lots of access to water. And finally – enjoy the sunny weekend!

Alice Moore is a vet at Castle Veterinary Clinic, Dorchester and Weymouth. Tel 01305267083.