Summer Pet Safety

6 Ways to Keep Your Pet Healthy this Summer


Hi Sweet Friends,

One of the many things I love about my readers is your deep dedication to animals. Summer is such a fabulous time to get outdoors with our furry companions. But as temperatures rise, it’s important to keep our pets safe. That’s why I teamed up with to share their amazing tips. You may already know this stuff, but take a moment for a quick refresher anyway. Your fur-kids’ lives could depend on it. And please pass this blog onto a friend who might need a refresher too.

Summer Pet Safety Checklist

6 must-have pet safety tips for a healthy & happy summer!

1. Don’t leave your pet in the car.

Confinement in a car or any other poorly ventilated enclosure can be fatal to your dog or other pet. One study reports that when the outside temperature is just 78°F, a closed car will reach 90°F in five minutes, and 110°F in 25 minutes. It only takes 15 minutes for an animal to get heat stroke and die in a hot car! Shade and even four cracked open windows don’t make a difference (results of car temperature testing here). When I see this, I leave a note for the owner and call the police if needed. I go into stores and ask the managers to make an announcement over the loudspeaker. Whatever it takes, because it’s that serious. We all love taking our pets with us wherever we go, but unless you’re bringing them with you when you leave your cool car, let them watch cartoons at home.

2. Be smart about exercising with your pup.

Although we look forward to taking a walk, going for a run and hitting the trails with our exercise buddies, it’s best to avoid these activities with your dog during hot days or warm, humid nights. The best time to exercise is either early in the morning before sunrise or late in the evening after the sun goes down. Know your dog’s fitness level, and let them set the pace. If they start panting excessively or suddenly seem drained, it’s time for a break. Cool down in the shade, offer them water to drink, pour tepid (not cold) water on their paws or if possibly have some fun in the sprinkler or with the hose.

3. Understand how to protect your pet from heatstroke.

Heatstroke develops rapidly and is often associated with exposure to high temperatures, humidity and poor ventilation. Symptoms include panting, a staring or anxious expression, failure to respond to commands, warm, dry skin, extremely high temperature, dehydration, rapid heartbeat and collapse. Very young and older pets tend to be more susceptible. Pets more vulnerable to heat stress include those who recently moved from cool to warmer climates, those with cardiovascular or respiratory conditions, or with a history of heat stress. Rabbits are often smart enough to lie next to a frozen water bottle to stay cool, but other pets such as cats and dogs should be kept in as cool an area as possible. With any form of heat stress, prompt veterinary attention is important to deal with potential complications, including death.

4. Sunburn is serious for animals too.

Pets who have recently received short haircuts may become sunburn victims and are as susceptible to heat stress as dogs who haven’t had their fur trimmed. In fact, your pet’s hair has insulating characteristics to help protect him from the heat — that summer trim should be long, not short! Did you know that white coated pets can get sunburned if they have naturally short or thinner coats? And pink nosed pets including dogs, cats, and rabbits, can get badly sunburned on their nose and ears, which can make them more prone to skin cancer. Lastly, don’t forget about those cute bellies! When you’re at the beach or chillin’ poolside with your furry BFF, remember that dogs can get sunburned on their tummies and inside of their hind legs when sunlight reflects off of sand or water. Check with your vet for a pet-safe sunscreen, or keep at-risk pets indoors when the sun is high. I found this out the hard way with Buddy recently. The vet shaved a small section of his back fur in order to do a spinal tap. Guess where he got a sunburn the following week? Duh, ma. Lesson learned.

5. Keep your four-legged friends off hot pavement.

Can you believe that when the air temperature outside is 77 degrees, asphalt in the sun has been measured at 125 degrees? That’s piping hot, my friends! When temperatures outdoors jump up to 86 or 87 degrees outside, asphalt can sizzle your skin (or your pet’s paws) at 135 to 143 degrees (an egg fries in 5 minutes at 131 degrees)! While most of us have witnessed or experienced the driveway dance of a human in bare feet, we don’t often think of the effect that burning hot surface has on the bare four paws of our companion animals. Get more tips for judging how safe the ground temperature is for Fido’s feet here.

6. Pet Pool safety

Never leave a dog unattended with access to a swimming pool. Even a dog who has never shown interest in getting in the water may accidentally slip in, or give it a try on a hot summer day. A dog’s instinct is to turn around and try to get out where they fell in, which may work well in a river or lake, but not in a pool. If possible, teach your dog how to swim safely to the steps and get out. If you don’t have access to a professional dog trainer, check out Barker Busters Pool Training article here. It’s a good idea to do a mini refresher course at the beginning of pool season each year too! Child-proof pool fencing can give your pooch an added layer of protection, but keep in mind your dog’s jumping and burrowing ability if you’re relying on that fencing to keep your pooch pool safe when you’re gone.

Your turn: I hope these tips come in handy and that you’ll spread the word about the importance of animal care! Please add your pet safety tips in the comments below.

Peace & paws,

Kris Carr

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15 responses to 6 Ways to Keep Your Pet Healthy this Summer
  1. Thank you for these reminders! As a Floridian if I see an animal left in a car at ALL I will usually call the non-emergency police line.

  2. Cris said on July 1, 2014

    I would like to know about inoculations for cats. Are they necessary for cats that are not allowed to roam freely? My two have access to a secure outdoor deck, but not beyond that. I know they’re exposed to mosquitoes, and my vet says heartworm meds are needed because of that. (I live in Dutchess County, NY). Also wondering about the need for vaccinations for semi-indoor cats, in general. I’m not against them unless they are unnecessary.

    Any info will be appreciated. Thanks!

  3. Thank you for caring for our furry friends! Thank you for reaching out to your audience to help our pets have a better, safe summer!
    I do wish, however, that you wouldn’t highlight the 15 minutes to get heatstroke. (Instead will you consider highlighting the jump in temperature in 5 short minutes?) Too many people already think they are acting within parameters when leaving their pet inside their car for “just a minute” on a warm or hot day. Dogs are dying this way. :(

  4. Kim said on July 3, 2014

    Keep a collapsable water bowl in your car so you can share your water with ur dog in case you get stuck in bad traffic.

  5. Kim said on July 3, 2014

    If your dog likes water and “runs hot” or even if they are normally hot, (cuz it’s hot!) get a stock tank from a farm supply to use as a cooling pool instead of the plastic baby pools. They are super duper sturdy, secure and they last

  6. Kim said on July 3, 2014

    One more! I used these gel pads for my old boy and he was very grateful. The Green Pet Shop Self Cooling Pet Pad, Large. Curly loved it. He would often go from spot to spot to cool down and this was a happy option.

  7. I am a late learner….just learned that it is NOT a good idea to put ice cubes in your dog’s water bowl. It is not good for their stomachs/intestines.

  8. I have lived Washington State for 2 years now (near Portland Oregon). I have 3 dogs. The temperature here is not a problem but the Fireworks are. They will go off every night this month. My dogs are terrified. The paper and on craiglist will be printing the amount of dogs that are disappearing because of the fireworks. Vet offices are doing repairs on dogs that get hit with fireworks. I am patriotic and love the Fourth of July but come on. How about one evening of Fireworks and keep your animals in a safe place during.

  9. The fireworks post reminded me about anxiety levels (travel, vet, storms) and helpful OTC products I’ve used: Rescue Remedy (homeopathic), Quiet Moments natural supplement, Dr Harvey’s Relax (powdered herbal supplement, add to food), TTouch (Tellington Touch) and may add more later. Yay for doggies!!!

  10. JG said on July 16, 2014

    thanks for this helpful list!

    Regarding dogs left in hot cars, I suspect nobody reading this would do that to their beloved friend, but might witness this situation: a dog in a hot car, and in need of help.

    Folks should know that in many cities, the appropriate response to an unattended dog in a hot car is to call 911 immediately. Below is just a tiny sampling of city-specific information (Austin TX, San Diego CA, Durham NC), where the police will respond to the 911 call and break the car window to rescue the animal in need:

    I’m sure this is true in many cities across the country.

    To have the knowledge needed in a crisis situation, before an emergent arises, foils might check whether they should call 911 in this circumstance. If not (i.e., if this is not (yet) within the realm of 911 calls in their city), it’s important to advocate for this change to happen in their local government, so that local law enforcement has the authority to save the lives of animals in this situation.
    If folks are in the enviable position of living in a city where 911 can respond, then I would suggest that the response to a distressed animal in a car is simple: call 911 FIRST, THEN attempt to locate owner (which can waste crucial seconds and minutes), with someone waiting beside car the entire time.

  11. JG said on July 16, 2014

    sorry for typos above! should read:
    ….To have the knowledge needed in a crisis situation, before an emergency arises, folks might check…

  12. Number 4 is such a good tip, yet highly overlooked! I know a lot of pet owners who simply don’t think about the sun penetrating their dogs coat, into the skin, and how it affects the dog. Many people who think of summer health for their dog are trying to make sure that fleas, parasites, and hydration are under control. I’m not sure if all my pet owner friends can identify a sunburn on a dog. Good tip!

  13. This is a very useful guidelines! Thanks for sharing these wonderful thoughts.