With people across the UK enjoying the warmth of a proper British summer this year, many of us are struggling to keep cool in the heat. However, lots of pet owners' concerns are directed towards their furry animals who can struggle with the heat much more than we do, especially those breeds which have thick or long fur.

Dogs are often very much a member of the family and therefore, naturally, people like to take them on holiday with them rather than leave them in a kennel or at home with a family friend. However, this often means a long car journey for the canine which can be unpleasant and uncomfortable for your animal if people don't take the right precautions.

GEM has warned that people in the UK who have a dog need to be responsible and make sure their pets don't overheat either. It has offered tips and advice for pet owners on how to keep their dogs cool in the Summer heat.

All dogs can benefit from these tips but they are especially important if you have a thick-haired or maturing dog or are going on a long trip. It's also vital that people in the car, especially the driver, and your canine friend are kept safe when on a journey.

A safety harness can act like a seatbelt for your dog and fits over their chest, back or shoulders. These are perfect if you have a large or medium sized dog as it will keep them secure and safe throughout your trip.

If you have a smaller dog then it's best to get a pet carrier and secure this in place with a seatbelt or by a footwell. If you are going on a long journey a passenger in the back can always let the dog out for a short amount of time to stretch its legs and stop it getting restless. Travel crates are similar items available for larger dogs.

You can make these carriers more inviting for your animals by putting a blanket or something else which smells of you and the dog. This will help them feel calm and relaxed and should make the journey less frightening for them.

Make sure you have the lead with you when you take your dog out of the car. This will ensure that they remain under your control as they will likely be very excited when you let them out of their carrier or the vehicle.

It's important to make sure everyone has enough fluid when on the journey, which includes your dog, to ensure that no one gets dehydrated. If you are going on a long journey it's best to take regular breaks to keep everyone in the car happy including your dog and driver.

Chief executive of GEM Motoring Assist, David Williams MBE said: "Entertaining children and passengers is often key to surviving a long car journey, but pets must be kept comfortable and happy too. Particularly as we experience dry weather, the heat can have a harmful affect on animals. Ensuring that they are properly hydrated, cool, and safely secured while in the car will help to pacify your pet. If not, an unrestrained or restless animal could distract the driver and cause a lapse of concentration or, worse, an accident."

Written by: Hannah