Keeping Your Pet Cool During the Dog Days of Summer

The term dog days comes from the ancient belief that the dog star was responsible for the hot summer weather. Be that as it may, it’s important to take extra steps to make sure that your pet stays cool and safe in the hot weather. It’s up to us to make sure that pets are protected from the various dangers that, along with the warm summer weather. For example:

  • dehydration
  • heatstroke
  • sunburn
  • heartworm
  • fleas and ticks
just to name a few.

Start off right with a visit to the veterinarian for a spring or early summer check-up. Make sure your pets get tested for heartworm if they aren’t on year-round preventive medication. Do parasites bug your animal companions? Ask your doctor to recommend a safe flea and tick control program.

The best situation for your pet is to be able to stay cool inside the air conditioned house during the hot summer days. Keep the thermostat at a reasonable temperature for your pet. If that’s not possible, is absolutely essential that there be a dark, shady place where the your pet can escape from the blazing sun. A tree is not good enough. A cool, ventilated structure, or a pen with shade cover, or a covered patio is a must. Make sure that there is adequate shade at all times of the day that the pet is outside.

15 Ways to Protect Your Pet in Summer


  • Exercise your pet in the cooler hours of the day (i.e., morning or evening), carry water with you, and take frequent breaks to give your pet frequent small amounts.
  • When the asphalt is hot don’t let your dog walk on it; he’ll burn the bottom of his paws.
  • Take your pet for a cool swim/splash in the sprinkler rather than a walk - if your pet enjoys that kind of thing.
  • Whatever you choose, keep a close eye on your pet, don’t let them overexert. Know the warning signs of trouble: excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. They can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees.


  • Never leave a pet in the car - even “just for a few seconds.” Never. And just a reminder, it’s against the law in many areas to do so.
  • Avoid High-Rise Syndrome, which occurs when pets-mostly cats-fall out of windows or doors and are seriously or fatally injured. Keep all unscreened windows or doors in your home closed and make sure adjustable screens are tightly secured.
  • Keep a current license and identification tag on your dog or cat and consider tattooing or microchipping as a means of permanent identification.
  • Always provide a source of drinking water. Make sure it is always fresh and cool.
  • Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool-not all pets are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats.
  • Rinse your pet 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 that could cause stomach upset.

Avoid Chemicals/Dangerous Foods

  • If ingested, anti-freeze (ethylene glycol), the day-glo green colored fluid frequently seen near curbs, is often lethal — even in very small quantities. Because many dogs and cats like its sweet taste, there are an enormous number of animal fatalities each year from animals drinking anti-freeze. Poisoning from anti-freeze is a serious medical emergency - you must get your pet medical attention immediately!.
  • During a cookout, make sure you keep your pet safe from charcoal, lighter fluid, alcohol, citronella candles, oil products and insect coils. These are also poisons.
  • Avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol - these can cause gastric distress or worse.
  • Don’t use products made for humans on your dog like sunscreen or insect repellent. The misuse of these types of products on your dog might result in adverse affects like lethargy and neurological problems. Instead, use products designed for pets.
  • Avoid walking your dog in areas that you suspect have been sprayed with insecticides or other chemicals, as poisonings increase during the summer when gardens, lawns and trees are sprayed. These chemicals can sicken or kill an animal. Call your veterinarian or The ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center (ASPCA/NAPCC) if you suspect your animal has been poisoned.

Bonus Tips

  • Help your pet caregivers too! After all, you need them to be at their best to give your pet the best care. For example, give them access to water/other beverages, ice, snacks (fruit, cookies, crackers, etc.), and a cool place to rest too!
  • To report a suspected case of animal abuse or neglect in Bergen County (New Jersey), call 201-573-8900, 24 hours a day. Elsewhere, contact your local police for guidance.