The weather is heating up all around the country. For some that will provide opportunities for fun in the sun. But if temperatures get too hot, things may move into the danger zone—especially for pets. Here are some ways you can keep your furry friends safe on sizzling summer days.

  • Minimize your pet’s exposure to the outdoors during the hottest parts of the day. That means taking walks early in the morning or later in the evening when the temperatures are (hopefully) cooler.
  • Be mindful of the surfaces your pet is walking on. Asphalt sidewalks can get extremely hot and can actually burn your pet’s paws. Grassy areas or dirt paths are better options on hot days.
  • If your pet needs to be outside, make sure he or she has access to shade and plenty of fresh water.
  • Please, never leave your pet in the car on a warm day. The temperature inside a car can reach a dangerous level very quickly. How quickly? Check out this video from Mars Petcare.

Water safety

If you have a pool or access to a body of water, some dogs enjoy taking a dip to cool off. In fact, if you have a Labrador Retriever or Portuguese Water Dog, you probably have a hard time keeping them out of the water! Other breeds, such as Dachshunds and Bulldogs, have anatomies that make swimming more challenging. Regardless of your dog’s natural-born swimming abilities, keep these precautions in mind:

  • Always supervise your dog when he or she is in the water.
  • Use a dog life vest. This is very important for dogs who enjoy water but may not be strong swimmers, but life vests can be helpful even for strong swimmers if they get tired and need a rest.
  • Try not to let your dog swallow too much water from pools, lakes or other bodies of water. Chemicals in pools or saltwater from the ocean can cause stomach upset, and open water can be a source of Giardia.

Know the signs of heatstroke

Heatstroke can be life-threatening for pets. If your pet is showing any of the following signs, contact your veterinarian immediately:

  • Excessive panting
  • Drooling
  • Brick-red gums
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion or lack of responsiveness to commands

Certain pets are more prone to heatstroke. These include dog or cat breeds with shorter faces and noses, such as Pugs, Boxers, Shi Tzus and Persians. Overweight pets and pets with heart or respiratory diseases are also more at risk for complications on hot days and extra precautions to keep them cool may be needed.

With a few common-sense precautions and a little vigilance, summer is a great time to be pet owner!