12 tips to help keep your pets cool during the dog days of summer

The dog days of summer are here, and with them the hazardous heat that can affect our furry friends.

The Suffolk County SPCA says that dogs and cats can suffer from the same problems that humans do in hot weather. These health concerns include overheating, dehydration and even sunburn.

To prevent your pet from overheating, take these 12 precautions:

1. Give them fresh, clean water
Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s hot or humid outdoors.

2. Know the symptoms of overheating in pets
These can include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. Symptoms can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees.

3. Heat stroke
Animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.

4. Stay cool indoors
Keep your pets in an air-conditioned place as much as possible. If you don't have air conditioning, call your local health department to see if there are any shelters in your area that may accept pets as well. Remember that due to the COVID-19 pandemic there might be restrictions on places used to keep cool.

5. Don't rely on a fan
Pets respond differently to heat than humans do. (Dogs, for instance, sweat primarily through their feet.) And fans don't cool off pets as effectively as they do people.

6. Opened windows and doors
Open unscreened windows pose a real danger to pets, who often fall out of them. Keep all unscreened windows or doors in your home closed, and make sure adjustable screens are tightly secured.

7. Prevent hot car deaths
Never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle. Not only can it lead to fatal heat stroke, it is illegal in several states.

8. Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool
Not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from his fur, and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals.

9. Do not shave your dog
Feel free to trim longer hair on your dog, but never shave your dog. The layers of dogs’ coats protect them from overheating and sunburn. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat. And be sure that any sunscreen or insect repellent product you use on your pets is labeled specifically for use on animals.

10. Hot asphalt
When the temperature is very high, don’t let your dog linger on hot asphalt. Being so close to the ground, your pooch’s body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. Keep walks during these times to a minimum.
11. Exercise
Be careful not to over-exercise your pet. Make sure your pets have a shady place to get out of the sun. Limit exercise to the coolest time of the day, early morning or evening hours.

12. Traveling
When traveling with your pet during hot weather, make it a habit to carry a gallon-size thermos of water. Consider freezing the water for long trips.
Click here for more hot weather tips from the ASPCA.