How to Keep Your Dogs Cool and Safe during the Summer
20 May, 2013

The basics

Don’t leave dogs in hot cars or let them walk on hot asphalt, play too hard or get too much sun. Apply flea and tick repellents, and if you’re in a mosquito-prone area, you should probably talk to your vet about heartworm prevention pills. Take dogs on walks early or late to avoid midday heat and provide enough drinking water (for you and your pup).


A dog’s coat is like insulation, warding off cold in the winter and heat in the summer. Remember to trim, but don’t give your dog a really short haircut or such a close shave that it takes away your pup’s protection. Dogs get sunburn and skin cancer, so never cut fur shorter than an inch. Dogs shed more in the summer, so make sure to brush your dog often to get rid of the extra fur along with fur that’s matted from water play.

Heat relief

Most dogs and outdoor cats can find cool, shady spots to lie down, but some, especially animals that are overweight or can’t tolerate heat, might benefit from cooling beds, mats or even vests. These mats get filled with water, which mixes with a high-tech gel to create a cool, waterbed-like cushion. Just make sure your dog doesn’t chew the cooling mat instead!


No food will keep your dog cooler, but food helps keep body temperature up, so dogs may not need to eat as much in the summer. If you take your dog on a trip, you might want to consider bringing food from home. A change in diet can cause diarrhea or your pup simply might not want to eat the different food.

If you decide to have a barbecue or picnic, make sure to keep your pets inside or watch to make sure that your dogs are not eating or drinking something that is bad for them, whether it’s spilled alcohol or onion dip. Onions, garlic, grapes, raisins and chocolate are the most toxic foods for dogs. It might even benefit you to keep your dog on a leash while outdoors during a picnic or barbeque.

Trips with your dogs

If you decide to take your dog on a road trip, make sure that your dog is OK in the car. Take a short trip at first if your dog isn’t used to it as dogs can get car sick. This way you can see how your pup does.

On boats, consider a doggie life vest. And watch your dog to protect him or her from gasoline and other toxic products. At the beach, provide drinking water so your dog does not drink salt water.

On planes, if your pet is small enough, keep your pup in the cabin with you. Call ahead because some airlines limit animals per flight. Be prepared to pay a fee and check on necessary paperwork.

If you’re boarding your dog, remember that many kennels require proof of vaccines such as rabies and kennel cough. And, of course, get recommendations on the different boarding homes.

Your lawn or neighbor’ lawns

Some lawn products are toxic to dogs and cats. Weed killers and herbicides are the worst and some can cause cancer. Some fertilizers are also toxic. All a dog or cat has to do is walk on the lawn and lick its paws to be exposed. These include herbicides, plants (hydrangea, tulips, azaleas, insecticides, mushrooms, fertilizers and cocoa mulch.


It is fairly easy to recognize the symptoms overheating if you see it — excessive panting, difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, seizures, and elevated body temperatures. And, don’t think your dog will merely stop and take a break. Sometimes dogs keep running without even realizing that hey are overheated which is why you need to watch for the above signs.

Always carry water with you and sponge your dog with lukewarm water if you think your dog is overheating.

Home windows and car windows

Believe it or not, dogs and cats can escape and fall from apartment windows, roofs, balconies or fire escapes. And, of course, this can lead to an injury for your dog or cat. Use window screens, open windows from the top instead of the bottom, consider child-safety window guards.

Most dog owners know the basics and your dog will be fine in the summer months if you take the necessary precautions. Of course, we can’t watch our dogs all the time, but the above just reinforces the necessity to look out for our pups!

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