With vacations, sunshine, and swimming, summer can seem like the perfect season. But while there are many great things about the hottest season of the year, there are a couple of things to consider when it comes to keeping your pet safe in the heat. Below are a few dos and don'ts:
Do get up early
If taking your dog for a walk or run is an important part of your pet's exercise routine, it's important to modify it during the summer. Only take them outside for extended periods of time when it's coolest - typically in the early morning or after the sun has set.
Do keep water handy
It's crucial to keep your pet well-hydrated when it gets hotter. This means having water available at all times. Even if you're going on a walk with your pet or visiting the dog park early in the morning, it's important to bring a bottle of water with you to keep your dog (and yourself!) hydrated. Lots of companies sell great portable water tools: such as these collapsible dog bowls which you can pour your carried water into and the popular Gulpy Water Dispenser.
Do go for a swim - but don't force it
First and foremost, be considerate of your dog's needs. Not all dogs like to swim and we never recommend throwing your dog into a body of water to help them cool down. A dog's paw pads are one of the only places they sweat and dissipate heat. Simply placing your dog's feet in a water-filled baby pool or even just allowing them to stand in a lake, river or bathtub is an easy way to help your pup cool down and regulate their body temperature.
If you are going to take your dog for a swim, never leave them unattended, and be sure to rinse your dog off afterward in order to remove any chlorine or salt that may be lingering on their fur.
Do make pupsicles
An easy thing to help your dog cool down and provide them with a project is to create a pup-siscle. This punny take on a popsicle requires the use of an ice cube tray. Simply freeze water to create regular ice cubes. Or you can put a savory twist on it, like our executive director, Cary Bernstein, likes to do: Freeze chicken broth and give that to your pet as a tasty, chilly treat.
Do think about the shape of your pet's face and medical conditions
Animals with flat faces, such as Pugs or Persian cats, are more likely to suffer from heat stroke since the face of their shape means they can't pant as effectively. This means that you should limit their time outdoors and ensure they have access to a cooled space.
Also worth considering is any medical conditions your pet might suffer from. Pets that are older, have a heart or lung conditions, or are overweight should remain in air conditioning as much as possible.
Don't leave your dog in the car - ever
Parked cars become baking ovens. According to the ASPCA, on an 85 degree day, the temperature in a car can exceed 102 degrees in 10 minutes. Pets left in a car may end up suffering, or even dying, due to the effects of heatstroke. As of January 2019, it is now legal in California to break into a car to rescue a dog that is left unattended if you cannot find the owner and you are concerned for their safety.
Don't walk on asphalt
Check the temperature of the pavement before you take your dog for a walk. An easy way to do this is by placing your barefoot, or your hand, on the surface for 10 seconds. If it's too hot for you to keep your hand or foot on it, then it is too hot for your pet and can burn your dog's paw pads. Booties, while typically thought of for paw protection during winter, can be used in the summer if you have no options for walking other than asphalt.
Don't go for a midday run
Running is a great way to get your pup outdoors and get some exercise, so long as you are sure your pet can run alongside you safely. But it is never smart to run with your pet during the hottest part of the day. The sun is highest in the sky around noon and doesn't really start its descent for the night until around 3 pm or so when the outgoing heat is greater than the incoming heat from the sun. With midday being the hottest time of the day, we recommend saving running for the early morning or late evening when the temperature has cooled down significantly.
Don't think the doghouse keeps your dog cool
In the same way that a car can turn into an oven, so can your backyard doghouse. It traps heat. While it may seem that your doghouse is providing shade (and shade is a must during the summer), it's really just making your dog hotter and increasing your dog's chance of suffering from heat stroke.
Summer is a wonderful season and often provides many pet owners with additional time to spend with their furbabies. Keeping these tips in mind ensures that both you and your pet can have the best summer possible.
Watch our videos
We host weekly live videos on YouTube called The Fix. Check out our two segments on pet safety in the heat: segment one and segment two.