How to keep pets safe and cool in summer heat

When it gets hot outside, pet owners need to remember to keep their dogs, cats, horses and any other beloved pets cool.

“Consider if you had to live outdoors when the temperature gets hot outside, what would you do to try to keep cool?” Nicole Johnson, DVM, Pekin Animal Hospital and president of the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association, said in a recent news release.

“Pet owners need to think of more than just how they’re going to keep cool when they have to be outside: What about your dog or cat when you take them for a walk or to enjoy the backyard? Or any outdoor animals that call ‘outside’ home? Every pet owner needs to think about their pet’s safety in any weather, and summer is no different,” said Johnson.

The ISVMA and Johnson offer helpful tips pet owners should follow as the temperature rises:

  • Never leave a pet in a hot car. Within a few minutes, even with windows rolled down, the heat in a car soars into triple digit temperatures!
  • Hot walks on outdoor surfaces. If a sidewalk or parking lot would be too hot for you to walk on barefoot, it’s too hot for your dog to walk on, too. Pavement baking in the summer sun can burn tender paw pads. Walk them in the cooler grass and look for shaded areas in which to walk. Also schedule walks in cooler times of day, like early morning or evening hours.
  • Keeping cool. Regarding shade, make sure that when your pet is outdoors that it is in a shady area, especially in the heat of the day. Bowls of frequently changed cool clean water also help keep the temperature manageable and water parasites at bay.
  • Beware of plants. There are a number of poisonous decorative plants that may be in your yard. Some are hazardous to animals. Research what is in your yard that may be harmful to your pet. Also keep fertilizers and other yard chemicals out of your pet’s reach.
  • Avoid drowning hazards. Have a swimming pool or water feature in your yard? Make sure you’re around to supervise your pet so that they remain safe from drowning. Or block pet access to the pool or water feature. Consider using a pet life jacket anytime your pet is near water or in a boat.
  • Avoid heat stroke. Pets with thick fur, who are overweight or have respiratory issues are especially prone to heat stroke. Consider giving your pet’s fur a summer cut and brushing him or her frequently.
  • Window and door safety. Make sure open windows or patio doors have screens on them or keep open windows/doors closed altogether.