Summertime brings a ton of outdoor fun. It also brings hot weather, which can be dangerous for our animal companions. Before you leash up your furry friend and go out to enjoy the long days of summer, know how to protect your pet from the heat. 

Never leave pets unattended in a parked car

On a hot day, a parked car reaches dangerously high temperatures in minutes. Don’t ever leave your furry family members in your car — not even with the windows cracked or parked in the shade, as these actions have very minimal effects on the car’s rising temperature. On a 70 ℉ day, for example, a car’s interior temperature rises to 89 ℉ in just 10 minutes — and it keeps going up from there. Protect your pets from damaging heat, leave them at home if needed, just do not put them at risk in your vehicle.

If you see an animal in a hot car, take action immediately

If you come across a pet in a parked car on a hot day, you may be able to help. Notify nearby businesses of the situation; they can make announcements to help find the owner of the vehicle. In case the owner is not found quickly, contact local law enforcement and explain the situation, then wait with the animal until help arrives. Additionally, know the laws in your area — in some states, good Samaritan laws legally allow you to remove an endangered animal from a hot car.

Exercise your pet during the cooler hours of the day

Walk, run, or play with your pet in the early morning or evening, when it’s cooler. You may also need to keep exercise sessions short, and remember to provide plenty of cold water. Also, beware of hot pavement. Scorching hot asphalt can burn paw pads. Before walking animals, especially dogs and cats, across any pavement, place your hand on it for a few seconds. If it’s too hot for you to do so, don’t force your furry friend to walk across it. 

Provide shade for your pet

In addition to plenty of fresh water, make sure your pet has access to shade at home, and can go inside whenever they need to cool off. When out and about with your pet, be on the lookout for shady spots to walk or sit.

Groom your pet

Brushing your dog or cat gets rid of dead fur in the undercoat, creating better air circulation and helping to cool your pet. You can also trim your pet’s fur, but do not shave it. Your pet’s coat has important functions and protects his skin. Always leave your pet with a sufficient layer of fur to protect him from sunburn and overheating.

Know the signs of heatstroke

Signs that your pet is overheated include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Elevated respiration and heart rate
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Glazed eyes
  • Excessive drooling
  • Weakness
  • Seizures
  • Deep red gums or tongue
  • Body temperature over 104 ℉

If you suspect that your pet is overheating, move him into a cool, air-conditioned building. Give your pet cool water — in small increments at a time to prevent vomiting — and contact your veterinarian.

Stay safe and cool, and enjoy your summer!