How to Protect Your Pets this Summer

How to Protect Your Pets This Summer by Deborah Y Strauss DVM

Summer is often the most relaxing time of year, but most climates have rising temperatures that can be detrimental to your pets’ health. Your pets are part of the family, so educating yourself on their health and safety is a top priority.

Signs of Heat Stroke

On especially hot days, you should look for signs of heat stroke in your pets. Animals are at higher risk for heat stroke if they are very young, very old, overweight, have respiratory problems, or have exercised for a prolonged period of time.

  • Signs of heat stroke in pets include:
  • Panting
  • Glazed eyes
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Excessive thirst
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Vomiting
  • Increased salivation
  • A purple or dark red tongue
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

As you can see, heat stroke isn’t something to take lightly. It can have very serious consequences for your pet. If your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms, try to cool their body temperature. You can do this by running cool water over them, moving them to an air-conditioned or shaded area, or applying ice packs to their neck and chest. Encourage them to lick ice cubes or drink small amounts of water. If symptoms persist or get worse, take them to your local veterinarian.


Basic Summer Safety

To avoid heat stroke in the first place, there are some summer safety tips to consider.

Never leave your pet in a parked car. Temperatures inside a vehicle can quickly rise to dangerous levels. Even with the air conditioner running or the windows cracked, you should never leave your dog in a parked car alone.

Limit exercise on hot days. On hot and humid days, you should limit your dog’s exercise to avoid heat exhaustion. You should try to exercise in the early morning or late evening, but always check the temperature of the sidewalk or asphalt before beginning your walk. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for their paws.

Provide shade and water. If your pet is outdoors, be sure they have shade and access to water. It is best to provide them with shade from a tarp or tree because shelters like a dog house could obstruct airflow, making your pet hotter.


Other Considerations

Heat is always a major concern for pets during the summer, but the season poses other dangers for our loved ones. Here are a couple other things to look out for this summer.

Pool Safety

It’s a common misconception that all dogs can swim, or “doggy paddle” and would survive if they accidentally fell into the water. However, this isn’t always the case. If you’re around a pool, don’t leave your pet unsupervised. They should also never drink the pool water because it contains chlorine and other chemicals. If you’re around a lake or on a boat, make sure your pet is wearing a flotation device.


Animals can add entertainment to your barbecues, but it’s common for them to also be your “vacuum cleaner” for the day. Some foods and drinks are poisonous for your pets, so be sure your guests know what not to feed them. Alcohol, chocolate, raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate, and a sweetener called xylitol are especially dangerous.

Hair Cuts

You might think that your pets’ long fur would make them hot, but the layers of their fur actually protect them from overheating and sunburn. It’s okay to trim your dog’s hair or brush your cat more often than usual, but don’t shave them. You should also avoid using sunscreen that isn’t specifically labeled for use on animals.


Never use fireworks in close proximity to your pets. The fireworks themselves can cause damage, but it’s also common for pets to be fearful of the loud noises caused by fireworks. Keep your little guys in a quiet, escape-proof area of your home so they don’t get scared and disoriented.


On a nice day, you might be tempted to open a window in your house to let fresh air in. This is usually fine, but you should be aware that unscreened windows pose a danger to pets. If your household pet loses its balance around a window, they could fall out and become injured or lost. Be sure that all screens are tightly secured before leaving your window open for the day. The same is true for car windows. Never leave them open enough that your pet could jump out.

Power Outages

Because of thunderstorms and other natural events, a power outage may occur. Be sure that you’re prepared for such an event for both you and your pets.


Summer isn’t all fun and games when you’re caring for pets. It’s imperative that you consider safety this season while relaxing and enjoying the nice weather with your furry friends.

In addition to watching out for your own pets this summer, take the time to observe other pets you see, as well. If you notice that an owner is putting their pet in danger on a hot day, don’t be afraid to educate the owner on proper procedure. It might not be an easy conversation, but it could save the life of their pet.