Summer is kicking into high gear, and getting outside to enjoy the sunshine, barbecues, and outdoor adventures is a must. We love to include our pets, but, unfortunately, the high temperatures aren’t so enjoyable for our four-legged friends who wear a fur coat. Help your pet beat the heat with the following cool tips.

1: Freeze pet-friendly popsicles

In the summer, cats and dogs enjoy snacking on frosty treats that help them stay cool. Consider whipping up meat-based popsicles that will increase your pet’s water consumption and prevent dehydration. Cats prefer frozen fishy treats, while dogs like chicken or fruit popsicles. If you’d like to keep things simple, add plain ice cubes to your pet’s water dish throughout the day. These zero-calorie treats are a fun way to cool down your pets.

2: Purchase a cooling mat

Frolicking in the waves at the beach every day is not always possible for water-loving pets. To cool pets who do not have direct contact with water, consider a cooling mat. These durable mats come in gel- or water-filled options, or you can create your own mat using fleece and soft ice packs. Put a cooling mat in your pet’s crate, in a windowsill where she rests, or outdoors where she sunbathes. If you put a cooling mat on your floor, use a tile floor rather than carpet, because the mat will leave some residue as it defrosts. Before purchasing a mat, compare the pros and cons of each type. This article from Top Dog Tips can help steer you in the right direction.

3: Provide plenty of fresh, cool water

Cats are especially finicky when it comes to consuming enough water. They prefer fresh, chilled, running water, so entice your cat to increase her water intake with a drinking fountain. Look for a continuously running fountain that keeps water cool and fresh, and avoid the scary water cooler variety that glugs when it refills the bowl. Besides streaming water designed to encourage pets to drink more, fountains filter the water and provide water that is fresh and clean. Consider durability, noise, and ease of cleaning and filter replacement when purchasing a water fountain for your pet.

4: Pets should stay in the shade

Pets, like people, can suffer from a scorching sunburn. Keep a close eye on short-haired pets, especially those with thin hair coats. Pets with white fur are more susceptible to developing skin cancer, so sun protection around the eyes, ears, and nose is vital. Check with our veterinary team before applying any sunscreen to your pet to ensure it’s safe. When outside, seek a shady spot for your pet that avoids direct sunlight, preferably under leafy trees or in a shelter with adequate ventilation.

5: Engage in outdoor exercise when it’s cool

Avoid the heat of the day by exercising in the early morning or late evening. If your pooch wants to spend time outdoors during the day, consider a wading pool or water activities to help her cool down and prevent heatstroke. Many dogs love splashing in a plastic kiddie pool, especially if you toss in some treats or toys she can “dive” for.

6: Crank up the air conditioning

Consider your pet’s access to air conditioning to ensure she is sufficiently cooled. Does she spend most of her time in a rarely used room where the vent is closed? Maybe she enjoys sitting in the windowsill of a poorly cooled room to soak up the sunshine. Check the temperature to ensure the room your pet frequents doesn’t become unbearably hot. Also keep in mind the temperature in the car if you’re traveling with your pet. You may feel chilled in the front seat, close to the air vents, but your pet may be languishing in the back hatch, panting with the rising temperature. Always provide adequate ventilation and circulation to help keep your pet cool.

7: Watch for signs of heat exhaustion in your pet

Playing in the sizzling summer heat can quickly turn deadly if your pet falls ill with heat exhaustion. Watch out for these warning signs:

  • Heavy panting
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting

Without prompt intervention and treatment, heat exhaustion can quickly progress into heatstroke, which may cause diarrhea, seizures, or falling into a coma. At the first warning signal, rush your pet into a well-ventilated, air-conditioned area. Soak her body with cool—not ice-cold—water, and put her in front of a fan. Avoid wrapping her in wet towels, which trap heat. Call our hospital immediately if you notice your pet is suffering from heat exhaustion, and we will guide you through the necessary steps.  

Has the summer heat affected your pet? Contact us if your furry friend has fallen victim to scorched paws, sunburn, or dehydration.