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Pets and the Summer Heat: How to Keep Them Safe and Cool

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
8/12/2012 10:00 AM   :  36 comments   :  17,583 Views

See More: pets, safety, summer,
It’s no secret that there has been a lot of extreme heat in many of the states this summer and it doesn’t seem to want to let up. Where I live, it has been extremely hot and humid, which has put a big damper on some of my daily walks with my 9 month old puppy, Zoe. Neither of us has been enjoying the heat, but she loves being outside and going for walks. However, when she is panting quite a bit by the time we get to the top of the driveway, I know there is no way to get her to go for a walk and not have her be overheated.

Dogs and cats don’t sweat like humans do, so they have a harder time trying to cool themselves off. Some signs that your pet may be overheated may include excessive panting, increased heart rate, and in extreme cases – vomiting and diarrhea.

Coach Tanya recently shared some tips for helping us stay cool and healthy during extreme heat, but what’s a dog or cat to do in this type of extreme weather? Well, there isn’t much they can say or do about it, but there are plenty of things we, as responsible pet owners, can do to help them stay cool and healthy.

Below are some tips on keeping your pets cool and safe in the heat that I found in this video on Today’s website, along with some other knowledge I’ve picked up along the way through dog training classes and experiences with Zoe.
  • Try to keep your pets inside as much as possible, especially during the hottest times of the day.
  • Don’t leave your pets in a vehicle. Your car is like an oven and will heat up very quickly. It doesn’t take long (even a few short minutes) for your pet to get overheated if left in the car.
  • Hydration – make sure there is fresh water available at all times. If your dog or cat is left outside in the heat, make sure their water is left in a shaded area and that there is plenty of fresh water available to them.
  • Frozen toys can be used to help keep them cool and entertained at the same time. (Zoe, loves playing and chewing on ice cubes and frozen toys.)
  • If you have a dog that enjoys water, you can let them swim in a kiddie pool or run through the sprinklers. (Both of these are Zoe’s favorite activities!) Do your best to put the pool in a shaded area though, and supervise your dog at all times.
 
Some other things to keep in mind when it is hot outside:
  • If you are going to walk or run with your dog, it is better to exercise with them in the early morning or later evening hours when it is cooler.
  • When you do take your dog out for a walk or run, take some fresh water for them to drink along the way. I like to bring a bottle of water for each of us.
  • Be careful when letting your pets outside. Concrete and asphalt can heat up quickly and burn their pads. Something you can do is put your hand on the concrete, asphalt, or whatever surface they will be on, and hold it there for at least 5 seconds. If it is too hot for your hand to be down there, it is too hot for your pet to stand or walk on.
  • Dogs and cats can get sunburned, especially those with light colored coats and/or noses. Make sure they have plenty of shade and shelter from the sun to help them from being sunburned.
  • Dogs and cats with shorter snouts are more susceptible to the heat.
 
 
Following these tips will not only help your pets stay safe and cool in the heat, but they will also be thanking you for being such a loving and caring pet parent.




What do you do to keep your pets cool? Do you have any other tips on keeping your pets cool and healthy during the summer heat?


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Comments

  • 36
    I am part of a non-profit group, we are planning an event which includes a pet walk. This artile will be a great one to include in the welcome bag each participant will receive. Thank You. - 6/14/2013   10:25:01 AM
  • JGMARIE80
    35
    My Lucky Joe is 3 years old. He's a Bichon-Shi-Tzu mix. He loves to walk with me in the mornings. When he's inside , he just cools off in his bed. - 4/20/2013   2:28:12 AM
  • SEMCD6232
    34
    My precious Beau is a white toy poodle and he stays cool by staying inside all the time. - 6/14/2012   8:58:49 AM
  • BLUEGRASSGYPSY
    33
    My Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs are house pets, but we sometimes have to leave them on the fully enclosed sun-porch for a few hours. There is a pet door off that room, so they can go out to the fenced yard if necessary. To make life more comfy for "the girls" during this extremely hot and humid weather, I have been freezing plastic gallon-size jugs of water, and setting the frozen "ice blocks" in front of a floor-fan. Both fan and ice set behind a secured open screen "X-pen" in a corner of the sun-room. My four-legged friends stay safe, while they enjoy cooled air...at least until the ice melts! - 8/16/2011   12:46:58 PM
  • 32
    My 10 year old chocolate lab loves to go with me, but I never take her running if it's hot. We do walk on that same trail and she knows exactly where the spots are that she can get into the river for a little cool down! - 8/15/2011   1:09:43 PM
  • 31
    I have a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Ginger who is almost 13 years old. This summer in New England has been particularly hot and humid, and to keep Ginger cool I've been putting ice cubes in her water dish every few hours to keep her water cool; I put an ice pack inside a towel and place it on her favorite spot on the couch (she likes to lay on the cool towel); when I go out and she is in her crate, I put an oscillating fan in front of the crate. We live on a pond, but she doesn't like the water - otherwise I'd have her swimming almost every day! - 8/15/2011   9:23:03 AM
  • 30
    Sometime people just forget how miserable those animals can feel. They need to be protected also!! - 8/14/2011   6:56:32 PM
  • BDAD038
    29
    I make sure that they always have fresh, cool water... They also seek out places in the house that tend to run cooler... the bathroom tile floor and the lower level family room are their favorites! - 8/14/2011   1:09:31 PM
  • 28
    She looks very happy!! - 8/14/2011   12:14:30 PM
  • 27
    The JSPCA recently held a Doggie 2K walk/run and due to the extreme heat, we placed water bowls placed at strategic points around the track, a sprinkling system was on as well as a kiddie pool. Some dogs jumped into the doggie water bowls and gave themself a good splash. - 8/14/2011   11:19:40 AM
  • 26
    I have a Shin Tzu. Indoor/AC. He is allowed outdoor 3x day before/after breakfast (15 min), before after lunch (3-5 min), after dinner (15 min). He likes to travel in the car with us, with water bottle, but we have to put him in his porta-crate or he'll be behind the wheel, paws up. I really don't know if he realizes he's not human! LOL!!! - 8/14/2011   10:27:41 AM
  • 25
    I have a 9yo Bichon Friese, Zhanne, we do most of these things. I would never leave her in a car. However, she does play outside in our backyard, even on hot days. I would love to set up a dog house for her but she is a bit of a princess. Like her dog bed, she looks, she laughs and jumps into bed with us. Any ideas how to let her play outside yet give her some sort of option for shade...the dog house won't fly. - 8/14/2011   8:30:38 AM
  • 24
    The house is air conditioned & my dog has the dog door to the deck-we generally take
    a walk in the evening after work,but usually go for a long day walk on the weekends-this
    is mainly on trails in wooded areas so shady-I have 2 water btls-he drinks his,gets 1/2 of mine poured on him & then ends up eating my ice cubes! - 8/14/2011   7:46:13 AM
  • 23
    I get Sam my MC tomcat clipped in the spring (he doesn't mind surprisingly enough and it seems to keep him cooler) I keep the windows open on the hade side of the house and they get lots of water and usually access to the cooler basement. I haven't used my AC yet this year even though I should have. - 8/13/2011   11:32:16 PM
  • 22
    I have central air, and my two kitties are indoor only cats. - 8/13/2011   6:20:27 PM
  • 21
    It has been very hot an humid here too. I don't walk my dogs in the evening when it gets this hot, I live in town and the asphalt gets extremely hot during the day. If you can't walk barefoot on the surface you are walking your dog on, then don't walk your dog on it. It's just too hot for thier feet too.

    Getting up earlier and walking your dog in the morning is the best thing to do, the street has had a chance to cool down some overnight, so it's much easier on your dogs feet.

    Debbie
    - 8/13/2011   3:07:54 PM
  • 20
    We human use sunblock to protect our skin. I wonder how to protect my outdoor cats other than keeping them in shades cool places. - 8/13/2011   10:58:37 AM
  • ELIZABETHB172
    19
    My indoor cat, Olive, is a sunshine/heat freak but this summer has been extraordinarily hot and we live in a south-facing studio apt. To keep her cool, I keep my studio cool with fans and if need be, an a/c. She and I prefer open windows, so I hang black towels in my windows and adjust their length (with clothespins) as needed. Not even shabby chic, I know, but I'm unemployed right now. That said, I find music and aromatherapy to be a great stress reducers for both of us. Olive likes Mozart and Norah Jones, I cool off with Bach, world music, and trip-hop. I do slip an ice-cube in her bowl every now and then and I'll wash my hands with cold water and dry them off while giving Olive a few good strokes! The moisture on my hands clings to her fur and sweeps off the loose layer of fuzz/fur on the outside of her coat and the cool hands and attention reassure her that I'm aware of her discomfort. Finally, I like to keep a small pot of grass or some other little green for her to munch on for extra hydration. Happy cat, happy furniture, happy me :) - 8/13/2011   8:30:39 AM
  • 18
    I like to walk Charlie on the Bike Trail down by the river; there is usually a breeze which makes it a little cooler. I also let him take a dip in the water when we get there so he can stay cooler... - 8/12/2011   7:59:18 PM
  • 17
    I take Betsy for a walk starting about 6:30 am, or don't take her for one at all. This heat is affecting exercise for us all and I am ready for fall ;) - 8/12/2011   4:51:21 PM
  • 16
    Thankfully, we haven't had any extreme heat this summer (I live in Portland, OR). The hottest its gotten is about 85. It baffles me to think the rest of the country is seeing this sweltering heat and it's all over the news. In any case, we have a dog door so our dog can come into the cool house if she's too hot. But with the mild temps we've had, I often see her basking in the sun! - 8/12/2011   3:33:09 PM
  • 15
    We have dog door and our dogs can come and go as they wish. They mostly like to hang out inside our swamp cooled home when it is hot.
    - 8/12/2011   3:18:10 PM
  • 14
    Good article. We don't live in where summers are overly hot... but I have 2 dogs and one is very hairy... so she can get overheated very easily. But she LOVES water! They both do actually! So we like to take them to the beach or even just fill up the kiddie pool and watch them splash around. Otherwise I just make sure they have water always available and I try to keep the airconditioner on if it is a pretty hot day. - 8/12/2011   1:28:38 PM
  • 13
    I keep my dogs inside with me for most of the day, and when I leave them home alone I make sure they have plenty of water, and leave the fan on so they can lay in front of it if they want. - 8/12/2011   1:21:24 PM
  • JAY75REY
    12
    The kiddie pool is a good one for my bulldog. We don't live in a hot summer area but even so, bulldogs are flat nosed and overheat very easily. So they get to lounge around in the A/C indoors. - 8/12/2011   12:51:28 PM
  • 11
    Exercising pets at dawn and dusk is a great idea.... if you live in the city. However, these are prime predator times, if you live rurally. Bears, cougars and coyotes are most active at these times of day, so, unfortunately, our dogs have to do without their daily walks during the hottest parts of the year. - 8/12/2011   12:18:11 PM
  • 10
    We have 3 dogs, a 8 year old rottweiiler, a 6 year pitbull and a 2 year old mastiff, I take them each for a walk everyday, I get about 3-6 miles in each day when I take them one at a time, I have water with me for them, I walk them from 1/2 mile to a 1- 1/2 every day we have trail out where we live when it isn't to warm out for them it is all dirt trails, roads so they are not exposed to the pavement I don't take them to town to be left in the car . If I do, I take them to a park and let them walk around t then we come straight home. I keep them in the house during th warmest part of the day they let me know if they need to go out to potty then I bring them back in. - 8/12/2011   12:06:08 PM
  • 9
    My dogs are hairless but because they have a doggie door and I can't control what they do when I'm not home, I put spf 55 on them before I leave for work in the morning because they enjoy going out onto the patio for some suntanning!!!

    Due to the heat in central CA, I walk at 5 am with them. I also have one of those moving water drinking fountains and they love that. - 8/12/2011   11:50:18 AM
  • PENNYN62
    8
    When the sun come around and shines on the sliding glass door I can't believe my 15-year-old cat actully cuddles up to it. But it's her choice. What I have noticed lately in the heat is older people are now left alone in hot cars while the people they are with shop. If their condition doesn't look good, they are perspiring or they don't answer my attempt to engage with them. I also call the police. A hot vehicle is very dangerous for pets and people. Older adults are sensitive too heat and cold too. - 8/12/2011   11:39:25 AM
  • 7
    We have a doggy door, lots of shade, and Invisible Fence ... so our dog can come and go as she pleases at home. We never take her with us places where she'd have to stay in the car. { and usually our temperatures here don't get extremely hot or humid} - 8/12/2011   11:34:12 AM
  • 6
    We have two labs, most of the time they are indoors. But when we have to go out we have a misting system for them. I know it sounds extravagant, but we live in the desert and it can get very hot and we care about them.

    If I see that someone has left a child or pet in their car here in the desert I always call 911. There is just no excuse for doing this. If you have to run errands get a sitter for your child and leave the pets at home. - 8/12/2011   11:08:34 AM
  • 5
    Luckily I only have indoor cats. They never go outside, so I don't have this concern. However, my apartment does get pretty warm, as I try not to run my A/C to keep my power bill down. (Luckily, I am in an apartment that is half underground, so only half of my walls are exposed to the heat). I have a water dish for my cats that has a frog fountain, so it keeps the water moving and therefore cooler for them. - 8/12/2011   10:39:47 AM
  • 4
    If your canine pal likes to crunch ice cubes then fill and ice cube tray with broth. It's an outside treat. - 8/12/2011   10:39:26 AM
  • 3
    Mine is an inside dog so she just goes out when need & we take walk in the evening when it is cool. - 8/12/2011   10:30:19 AM
  • MAMAOFTEN
    2
    I DO NOT OWN A PET HOWEVER I DO KNOW THEIR WELFARE IS AS IMPORTANT AS OUR OWN! - 8/12/2011   10:15:13 AM
  • 1
    We own a Llassa and take her to the ocean camping with us each year. She goes to the beach with us and spends the day in our children's old wagon that we use to carry all our stuff in. We made a cover for the wagon out of ripstop nylon that makes it look like an old covered wagon from the Oregon Trail days. She enjoys resting in there when we are not playing with her on the beach and has shade from the sun and protection for her feet from the hot sand! She loves the beach and her beach naps seem to be a highlight of vacation for her!! Smiles Barb - 8/12/2011   10:12:16 AM

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