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Blog /Keep Dog Cool
Life with Pets August 05, 2021

How to keep your pets cool and safe during summer heat

Though fun, the summer season introduces a few risks for dogs and cats—including dehydration, heatstroke, and even sunburn. Follow these simple steps to keep your pets safe on sizzling days.

In many parts of the world, this summer has already been unseasonably warm. And high temperatures can spell danger for dogs and cats.

Fortunately, it’s not hard to protect your pets from heat-related emergencies. And with this post, we hope to help!

White dog sitting in front of a small fan

Keep pets cool and comfortable.

If you’re hot, it’s safe to assume your pet is, too. After all, they’re wearing a coat they can’t take off. Here are a few ways to give them some relief.

  • Make water available at all times. During hot weather, it’s critical that your pet stays hydrated. If they must be outside, consider also providing shade, running a fan, or dropping an occasional ice cube for your pet to play with.
  • Limit outdoor time. It’s wise to minimize your pet’s exposure to the outdoors during the hottest parts of the day. That may mean taking walks early in the morning or late in the evening—when the temperatures are cooler—rather than in the middle of the day.
  • Protect your pet’s paws. Be mindful of the surfaces your pet is walking on. Asphalt sidewalks can get extremely hot and can actually burn their paws. Grassy areas or dirt paths are better options on hot days.
  • Keep up with grooming. Make sure your pet’s coat is not matted, and brush it regularly to remove excess loose fur. For long-coated pets, you might consider a lion cut or similar haircut during warmer months.
  • Provide a cool place to lay. Pets can cool themselves by lying stretched out on bare floors. So, consider picking up mats and rugs. If this isn’t an option, elevate your pet’s bed to allow air to flow underneath, or make a “cooling bed” by wrapping a frozen water bottle or bag of frozen vegetables in a towel.

Did you know? You should never leave your pet in the car on a warm day. The temperature inside can quickly reach a dangerous level.

Labrador Retriever and a white kitten sitting in the grass

Watch for signs of heatstroke.

Heatstroke can be life-threatening for pets. Contact your veterinarian immediately if your pet shows any of the following signs of overheating:

  • Brick-red gums
  • Collapse or unconsciousness
  • Confusion or lack of responsiveness
  • Drooling
  • Excessive panting
  • Fever
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Vomiting

Some pets are more prone to heatstroke. Dogs with shorter faces and noses—such as Pugs, Boxers and Shih Tzus—pets that are overweight, and those with heart or respiratory diseases are more at risk for overheating on hot days. So, you may need to take extra precautions to keep them cool.

Did you know? Cats have sweat glands on their paws. If your cat is leaving wet paw prints, that means they’re sweating and may be too hot.

Dog splashing in the water

Be water-wise and supervise pets when they swim.

If you have a pool or access to a body of water, you may find that your dog (or cat, if yours has Turkish Van ancestry) enjoys taking a dip to cool off in the summer heat.

In fact, most Labrador Retrievers or Portuguese Water Dogs practically can’t stay out of the water. Such breeds are natural swimmers compared to Dachshunds, Bulldogs, and like-bodied breeds.

Regardless of your dog’s (or cat’s) innate swimming abilities, keep these precautions in mind.

  • Stay vigilant. You should always supervise your pet when they’re in the water.
  • Use a pet life vest. This is essential for pets who enjoy water but may not be strong swimmers. Life vests can also be helpful for strong swimmers when they get tired and need a rest.
  • Prevent your pet from swallowing too much water. Chemicals in pools and salt water from the ocean can cause stomach upset, and open water can be a source of Giardia.

Swimming isn’t for every pet. If your cat or dog isn’t a big fan, they might appreciate being pet with a damp washcloth every now and then.

Did you know? Pets can get sunburned. If your dog or cat is white/very light colored or has thin or no hair (such as the American Hairless Terrier, Xoloitzcuintli, Lykoi, and Sphynx), you should apply pet-safe sunscreen or dress them in protective clothing while they’re outside. The areas most at-risk are the ears, nose, and anywhere with sparse fur.

Ace this summer with more pet parenting tips.

Hungry for more ideas on how to have a great summer with your pets? Browse this list of warm-weather activities to find one that your pup will love.

Seize the Summer