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How to Keep Your Pet Cool This Summer

woman at lake petting golden retriever

We all love our pets. We buy them fancy treats, keep them groomed, throw them birthday parties, and much more. So, when it comes to the summer heat, the best way to show them you care is to keep them cool and comfortable. While dogs are more susceptible to heat than cats, it’s still important to monitor both species and make a conscious effort to help them get through the season with ease. Here are some ways to keep your pets cool this summer.

Check the pavement before going out for a walk.

Not only can the heat of the day pose a threat to dogs and cats, but the sidewalk pavement can also be dangerous. Both pets have sensitive paws, and hot pavement, asphalt, and artificial grass can cause blisters or burns. Additionally, scorching sidewalks can increase the overall body temperature of your pet and lead to heatstroke.

To make sure the pavement is A-OK for your pet, check it with the back of your hand for seven seconds. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your pet’s paws, too. 

Save the outdoor activities for morning or night.

At an average body temperature of about 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit, cats can tolerate hot weather better than dogs—and some humans, for that matter. However, cats can still experience overheating and heat stroke, so you should be careful about letting them roam the streets during the hottest part of the day. 

For biological reasons, dogs are much more susceptible to heat. Not only that, but some dogs can also get sunburnt, especially those with white ears and noses. With these risks, you should save outdoor activities for morning or night when the temperatures are a little cooler.

Depending on the breed, size, age, and weight of your dog, they may be able to tolerate warmer temperatures, but experts agree that it’s generally safe to take your canine friend for a walk in temperatures of up to 68 degrees Fahrenheit—and any temperature over 77-degrees Fahrenheit is considered risky for dogs.

Dog walking tips during the hottest months:

It's good practice to follow these tips when walking your dog to ensure they stay safe: 

  • Shorten your walks or activities. Fifteen minutes of exercise is typically enough.
  • Take it easy. Opt for a leisurely stroll instead of a high-intensity activity.
  • Bring water for your pet. Four to eight ounces of water at a time for dogs weighing 45 to 55 lbs. is the general recommendation. 
  • Schedule rest breaks. If you’ll be out and about for longer than 15 minutes, stop and let your dog rest and drink water in a cool, shaded area. 

Invest in a cooling mat.

Cooling mats are great year-round and can be used in the house, car, or crate. Portable and easy to clean, a cooling mat provides an extra layer of comfort for all dogs and cats and extra relief for senior pets and those with medical conditions. This one from the Green Pet Shop comes in a variety of sizes and is activated by the pet’s weight, offering up to three hours of cooling comfort!

Always seek out the shade.

Whether inside or out, the hot sun can increase your pet’s body temperature. Skylights and large windows allow sun to pour into a home, which may be nice but can warm things up for your pet. In your house or car, make sure there’s a shaded area for your pet to relax. Similarly, if they’re outside, keep them shaded—trees, canopies, and pergolas are good, covered spots to retreat to. 

Thinking about using a doghouse or shed? Think again. They don’t provide enough air circulation for a dog to keep cool. Indoors, create a spot for your dog to rest in a dark, cool room, like a laundry room, or draw the blinds or curtains during the hottest part of the day. For your car, cover the window with a shade, cloth, or cardboard. 

Thinking about installing a doggie door? Check out these doggie door tips and ideas

cat laying on wood floor with plants

Turn on the air-conditioner or circulate some air.

Never leave your pet in a hot house, a hot car, or any hot enclosed area. It can take just 15 minutes for a dog to overheat. Cars parked in direct sunlight can reach internal temperatures up to 131 degrees to 172 degrees Fahrenheit when it’s 80 degrees to 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Turn on the air conditioner for your pet inside a car, keep the windows open, and let them get some air. In the home, make sure you keep the thermostat at 75 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler for your dog. Don’t have AC? Open the windows and get a box fan pointed at your dog for relief.

family playing with hose and dog in yard

Give them water and cool snacks.

Always have water available for your pets, and refill outdoor water stations often. For dogs, cool them off with a play in the sprinklers or spray them with a water hose. We all know that cats generally despise H2O.

However, you can try gently stroking your cat from their head down their back with a cool cloth to keep them comfortable. Additionally, letting your pet munch on ice can be a refreshing surprise. 

Signs of Heatstroke in Pets

It’s very important to monitor your pet during the summer months. When a dog’s body temperature exceeds 106.5 degrees Fahrenheit with no known illnesses, it’s deemed a heat stroke since it’s due to excessive heat.

In cats, a body temperature above 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit is considered abnormal, and if the elevation is caused by a hot environment, it’s likely heat exhaustion, which could turn into a heatstroke. Heatstroke in dogs and cats often leads to death, so it’s critically necessary to be aware of the signs.

Signs of heatstroke in cats:

  • Body temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
  • Rapid breathing or panting
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Anxiety or restlessness
  • Lethargy
  • Dizziness and/or disorientation
  • Redness of the tongue or mouth
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sweaty paws
  • Drooling 
  • Tremors or seizures

Signs of heatstroke in dogs:

  • Excessive panting and/or salivating
  • Red or purple gums and tongue
  • Racing heart
  • High body temperature
  • Glassy eyes
  • Fearful expression
  • Obvious discomfort
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Disorientation
  • Seizures

Enjoy the Summer Fun at Home! 

Keeping your pets cool in hot weather isn't just about making them comfy–it's our duty to keep them safe and happy. As responsible pet owners, we need to provide them with a cool place, lots of water, shade, and good ventilation. This not only helps prevent our furry friends from getting sick because of the heat, but it also shows how much we care about them. To continue enjoying the summer fun, check out our top tips for keeping your home safe during the summer!