1. Create Cool Hidey-Spots
Does your pet have a special place where they like to rest when it’s hot? Some dogs nap on tile floors. Cats curl up in the bathroom sink. Create shady spots, or make sure your pet has access to cool parts of the house. And when you go out, remember your pets inside—open windows or, if possible, keep fans/air conditioning running.
2. Keep that Water Flowing
The best thing you can do for your pet in the summer is to keep her hydrated. Dehydration is a serious risk for both cats and dogs. Keep bowls full of fresh, cold water at all times. When left outside, a heavy ceramic bowl is best—metal bowls get hot to the touch.
3. Play Safe at Home
Dogs love to play outside, but limit their time in the yard during extreme temperatures. Make sure there's shade. Also, ask your veterinarian about preventatives for backyard pests such as flea and ticks.
4. Tame the Trimmers
Think your shaggy dog could benefit from a summer haircut? It’s fine to trim your long-haired dog for the summer, but most pets shouldn’t be shaved down. Their fur coat is there for a reason. It actually helps prevent overheating, and protects their skin from sunburn.
5. Protect those Pretty Paws
Ouch! Remember the discomfort of walking on hot pavement or hot sand at the beach? The same is true for dogs. If it’s too hot for your bare feet, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws. Walk on the grass, or get your dog some cute doggy boots.
6. Alter Exercise Times
Keeping fit and healthy is just as important in the summer. Don’t skip those daily walks, but consider walking your dog in the early morning or evening when it’s cooler.
7. No Parking Anytime
Did you know that even in the shade, even with window open, the temperature inside the car can be dangerous for your pet? According to the Humane Society, on an 85 degree day the temperature inside your vehicle can rise to 102 degrees in only ten minutes—and that’s with the windows cracked. Some states even have laws prohibiting leaving pets in hot cars. When traveling with your pet, never leave them in a hot car.
8. Look Out at Cook Outs
Dogs look cute when they beg, but some foods are dangerous for your dog. Raw pork, meat fat, and chicken skin can make your dog sick. Dispose of all bones safely. And never give your dog corn cobs. The cob is indigestible, and large chunks may become lodged or cause dangerous intestinal obstructions.
9. Keep Fido Afloat
Many dogs love the water, but not all dogs know how to swim. Use a doggy life-jacket in the water and on boats.
10. Learn lifesaving techniques
Both dogs and cats are subject to heatstroke. Symptoms include panting, agitation, lethargy, drooling, vomiting, and collapse. If your pet has symptoms, get him in the shade, offer water, cover with cold wet towels and bring her to the veterinarian immediately.
*Peggy Frezon is author of books about pets, including Faithfully Yours: The Amazing Bond Between Us and the Animals We Love (October 2015).