Practice summer heat safety for your pets

Heat safety scale for small dogs

As temperatures rise this summer, it’s important to remember that heat and humidity can be dangerous for our pets. Be aware of summer heat safety: high temperatures make it easy for dogs to overheat, become dehydrated and succumb to heat stroke.

So how do you know if your dog is at risk? Well, we’ve created some guides of what different temperatures mean for dogs of all sizes — and shapes.

Heat safety scale for medium dogs
Heat safety scale for large dogs

The good news is that all of this can be prevented. While we’ve written about summer heat safety before, we’ve got some updated information to help you and your pets stay safe this summer.

Follow these tips to keep your pets safe in the heat:

  • On hot days, keep your pet inside with the air conditioning on. If your dog must be left outside, leave him in the shade with plenty of water.
  • Never leave your pet unattended in the car. Cracked windows won’t protect your pet from overheating and suffering heat stroke on even warm days, much less truly hot days.
  • Limit exercise to morning or evening hours. Take extra care with older pets, overweight pets and short-nosed dogs.
  • Dogs can get sunburned! Apply mild, pet-safe sunscreen whenever possible to protect your furry friend from burns. And stay in the shade whenever possible.
  • Keep your pet well groomed: a matted coat actually traps in heat. Resist the temptation to shave off your pet’s hair in an effort to keep him cool. Your pet’s coat will protect him from getting sunburned.
  • Remember that asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws. If the ground is too hot for you to comfortably go barefoot, it is too hot for your dog.
  • Ensure that your pet always has access to cold water in a tip-proof bowl.

Don’t forget that summer still means fun! You can be safe and still enjoy the weather.

Here are some ways to stay cool and have a good time:

    • Fill a kiddie pool with cool water for pets when they are outside
    • Provide ice cubes for your pets to chew on
    • Give frozen “Kongsicles” (a Kong stuffed with canned food and then frozen), DIY peanut butter popsicles or frozen food patties
    • Wrap ice in bandanas and put it around their necks
    • Wet down and freeze towels to give them something cool to lie on

Signs of heat stroke include excessive panting or drooling, an anxious or staring expression, a high pulse rate and a high body temp. Heat stroke is serious: it can lead to vomiting, staggering gait, non-responsiveness, and even a collapse.

If you see any of these signs, the Humane Society of the United States says you should “move your pet into the shade or an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to their head, neck and chest or run cool (not cold) water over them. Let them drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes. Take them directly to a veterinarian.”