Hot Tips for Cool Pets

Hot Weather Tips for Dogs

We all love spending the long, sunny days of summer outdoors with our furry companions, but caution is due when temperatures rise, warn ASPCA experts.

“Even the healthiest pets can suffer from dehydration, heat stroke and sunburn if overexposed to the heat,” says Dr. Lila Miller, ASPCA Vice President of Veterinary Outreach, “and heat stroke can be fatal if not treated promptly.”

Take these simple precautions to help prevent your pet from overheating. If you suspect your pet is suffering from heat stroke, get help from your veterinarian immediately.

Visit the Vet
A visit to the veterinarian for a spring or early summer check-up is a must. Make sure your pets get tested for heartworm if they aren’t on year-round preventive medication. This is also a good time to be sure your pet is protected from fleas and ticks.

Be Cool
Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s hot outdoors. Make sure they have a shady place to get out of the sun. Be careful to not overdo outdoor exercising with them, and keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot.

Know the Warning Signs
According to Dr. Lila Miller, ASPCA Vice President of Veterinary Outreach, “Symptoms of overheating in pets include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. They can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees.” Animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with older or overweight pets, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.

No Parking!
Never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle. “On a hot day, a parked car can become a furnace in no time—even with the windows open—which could lead to fatal heat stroke,” says Dr. Louise Murray, Director of Medicine at ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital. Also, leaving pets unattended in cars in extreme weather is illegal in several states.

Water Safety
Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool—not all dogs are good swimmers. Not all dogs even like the water, so introduce your pets to water gradually, letting them get used to it at their own pace. Swimming can be difficult or even dangerous for some breeds and for older, heavier or arthritic animals. Make sure your pets wear flotation devices when on boats or around the water. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from his fur and skin. Try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals that could cause stomach upset. Natural water sources like the ocean or rivers can contain dangerous bacteria and parasites that can cause serious health problems, and drinking salt water can cause your pet to dehydrate even more readily. Always have plenty of fresh water on hand, and discourage them from drinking from other sources.

Screen Test
“During warmer months, the ASPCA sees an increase in injured animals as a result of High-Rise Syndrome, which occurs when pets—mostly cats—fall out of windows or doors and are seriously or fatally injured,” says Dr. Murray. Keep all unscreened windows or doors in your home closed, and be sure screens are tightly secured.

Summer Style
Giving your dog a lightweight summer haircut helps prevent overheating. Shave down to a one-inch length, never to the skin, so your dog still has some protection from the sun. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat.

Street Smarts
When the temperature is very high, don’t let your dog linger on hot asphalt or concrete. Being so close the ground, your pooch’s body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. Keep walks during these times to a minimum or find a place to walk in the grass or in the shade!

Fireworks Aren’t Very Pet-riotic
Please leave pets at home when you head out to Fourth of July celebrations, and never use fireworks around pets. “Exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns or trauma to curious pets, and even unused fireworks can be hazardous,” says Dr. Hansen. If you set off fireworks at home, be sure to keep them away from your pets, and pick up wrappers, casings, and any unexploded fireworks when the festivities are over.

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2 Responses to “Hot Tips for Cool Pets”


  • I fill up a small child’s size plastic swimming pool with a three pound bag of ice. Can’t tell you how much fun my pup has with that! He’s hilarious!

  • That sounds like a great idea! I will have to try that for my dogs!

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