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Keeping Your Furry Friends Safe in the Summer Heat

Although we haven’t had any days over 100 degrees yet, we know they are coming. As the temperature rises, dogs and cats can experience heat related problems just like us. It is important to have ways to keep them cool and to know the signs of heat-related problems.

We can cool off by sweating, but dogs and cats cool down in different ways. Dogs sweat through their paw pads, but the main way they cool off is by panting. Cats, on the other hand, cool off by grooming themselves. When it gets really hot, these are not good ways for our pets to stay safe and cool. This can make for a dangerous situation if we don’t provide additional ways for them to stay cool.

Prevention is the best way to protect your pets from the dangers of heat. Here are four tips to help keep your pets safe:

1.  Provide Plenty of Water and Shade

Ensure your pets have access to fresh water at all times. When outside, make sure there are shaded areas where they can escape the direct sun. It can actually feel 10 to 15°F cooler in the shade! For yards that do not have natural shade, a dog house can provide some protection from the sun. Cribs for Canines is a local organization that can help you get a dog house if you need one ( If you are able, bring your pets indoors from 11 to 4, which is usually the hottest part of the day.

If your dogs are anything like mine, they love to sunbathe. I call my dogs lizards because they will lay on the hot patio stones like lizards. We keep a bowl of fresh water nearby and they have access to shade and the house when they want it. Every dog has a different tolerance for heat. Dogs who are older, sick, or overweight need to be watched more closely on the very hot days.

2. Avoid Midday Walks

Exercise your pets during the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening. Hot pavement can burn their paw pads and increase their body temperature. If you can’t walk barefoot comfortably on the pavement, it’s too hot for your pet. On days when walking your pet in the midday is unavoidable, walk them in grassy areas and be sure to provide them with water often.

Puzzle activities for your pets can tire them out just as good as walks. Try rolling a handful of their food in an old bath towel and tying it in a knot. Your dog can pull the towel apart to get the food. A Kong toy with frozen peanut butter is also a great way to wear your dog out while keeping him or her cool.

3. Never Leave Pets in a Hot Car

Even with the windows cracked, the temperature inside a parked car can soar to dangerous levels within minutes. On an 85°F day, the temperature inside a car with the windows slightly open can reach 102°F in just 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, it can reach 120°F. If you can’t leave your pet at home, bring someone along who can stay in the running car with your pet.

4. Grooming

Regular brushing can help keep loose fur off your pet which can trap in heat and water. Avoid shaving your pet’s fur completely, as it can protect them from the sun and help regulate their body temperature. This is especially true for dogs with thick, double coats like German Sheperds and Huskies.


Signs of Heatstroke in Pets

Heatstroke is a serious condition that can affect pets quickly. It is also really scary for their owner. Recognizing the signs early can make a significant difference:

  • Excessive panting or difficulty breathing

  • Drooling more than usual

  • Lethargy or weakness

  • Increased heart rate

  • Vomiting or diarrhea

  • Confusion or disorientation

  • Bright red or pale gums

  • Collapse or seizures

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to take immediate action.

Immediate Actions for Heatstroke

  1. Move to a cooler area: Get your pet out of the heat right away.

  2. Cool them down gradually: Use cool (not cold) water to wet your pet. Apply wet towels to their body, especially around the neck, armpits, and between the hind legs. You can also use a fan to help with cooling.

  3. Offer water: Provide small amounts of cool water to drink. Do not force your pet to drink.

  4. Contact your veterinarian: Even if your pet seems to recover, it’s important to have them checked by a vet as heatstroke can cause internal damage not immediately visible. If you need a veterinarian, you can find a list of local vets on this website:


By taking these preventive measures and being aware of the signs of heatstroke, you can help ensure that your pets enjoy a safe and happy summer. Always keep your veterinarian’s contact information handy and don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re concerned about your pet’s health. You can make all the difference in protecting your furry family members from the summer heat.

Stay cool and enjoy the summer with your pets Waco!

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