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Main Content
Dog Days of Summer

How to keep your pets cool and comfortable

By Scott Bish

July welcomes the start of some of the hottest weeks of the summer.

Higher temperatures can mean a greater risk of heat stroke and other heat-related conditions for our animals. To keep your pets safe and healthy this season, consider these tips.

Prevent Dehydration And Overheating

Water

Your pets should always have access to cool, clean water, but it’s especially important when it’s hot outside. Whether your dogs or cats are in your home or outside, these animals can quickly become dehydrated. It’s never a bad idea to fill two bowls (one with water and one with ice) to ensure your pet has enough to get through the day. And if Fido is accompanying you on the road, it’s always a good idea to bring along water and a bowl for him.

Shade

For outdoor pets, it’s critical to provide a shady place where they can hide from the sweltering heat. This could be a spot under trees, under the porch, or inside a dog house. Depending on your pets’ ages, how much time they typically spend outdoors, and how high temperatures in your area reach, it may be worth bringing them indoors during heat spells.

Cooling Mat

Another way to keep your pets comfortable in the heat is to give them a cooling bed or mat. A couple of on-the-go alternatives are a cooling vest and cooling collar. Simply freeze the inserts and place them inside the vest to help pull heat from under your dog’s body to cool them off. The cooling collar works similarly, with ice packs that you place inside.

Paw Protection

In addition to water and shade, it’s important to monitor the heat of the surface your pets walk and lay on. Dogs and cats have sensitive pads on their paws, and hot concrete or asphalt can burn them. Moon Valley Canine Training, a facility in Sonoma, California, developed and shared the following test for keeping paw pads safe in the heat: Place the back of your hand on the pavement. If you can’t hold it down for at least five seconds, then the ground is too hot for your pet to walk on.

To avoid paw injuries, it’s a good idea to move your pets to a shady spot on the grass or in the dirt. You can also periodically cool off your driveway, patio, and other paved areas by watering them with a hose. (Your pup may enjoy a quick rinse, too!) And to keep your dog safe on walks, try using dog boots or shoes that cover their paws.

Never Leave Your Dog In Your Car

It’s also critical to never leave pets inside a parked vehicle on hot days. Your car or truck can quickly go from comfortable to as hot as a furnace, even if you’ve left the windows open. One study by San Jose State University’s Department of Meteorology & Climate Science found that when it’s 80 degrees out, the temperature inside a car can reach 99 degrees within just 10 minutes. Just like humans, dogs and cats can develop heatstroke, which can be fatal. Rather than take chances, it’s best to leave your pets at home on hot days. Or if you’re visiting your local Tractor Supply, bring your pets in with you.

Know Your Breed’s Needs

Some animals handle the heat better than others. Dogs and cats that have short noses and flat faces often have a difficult time with panting, which means they’ll have a harder time staying cool. For these pets, it’s best to keep them inside with the air conditioning on or near a fan.

These Breeds Include:

Dog

English bulldog 

Shih tzu

Boxer

Pekingese

Shar-pei

Chinese pug

Lhasa apso

King Charles spaniel

Boston terrier

Cats

Persian

Himalayan

TIP: The American Kennel Club is a great resource for in-depth breed-specific information on dogs. Your vet may also have advice specifically for your pet’s breed.

Managing Fur

Pet fur can be deceiving. You’d think it would make dogs and cats hotter and more uncomfortable in the heat. However, your pet’s coat actually provides added heat relief by capturing air and providing insulation, which helps regulate their body temperature. That’s why you shouldn’t shave them completely. Instead, give them a summer cut and keep them trimmed throughout the season to help them stay comfortable.

Never cut your pet’s fur with scissors. Animals are unpredictable, and one wrong move can mean a serious injury—to you or them. Either invest in a quality set of pet shears, or enlist a professional groomer.

Another thing to note is that dogs that have a second coat shed during summer months as nature’s way of thinning out their fur. Brushing them regularly will keep their coat—and their body temperature regulation—under control.

Summer is also a good time to give your pets a flea and tick treatment since these pests flourish in warmer temperatures.

Want to learn more about keeping your pet healthy this summer? The ASPCA has tons of resources on its website: aspca.org/pet-care

Scott Bish is a writer who hails from Ohio.