How to keep your pets safe in the summer heat

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dog and hose

Not all animals have the ability to regulate their body temperature by sweating. Larger animals can sweat to combat the heat, but dogs, cats and rabbits aren’t able to sweat enough to cool themselves. That’s why it’s essential to look for signs of overheating and offer some additional ways to cool off throughout the hottest summer months.

Warning signs of overheating

  • Excessive panting
  • Drooling
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased breathing
  • Fatigue, lethargy

Keeping your pets cool

Even before you notice signs your pets are too hot, take measures to ensure they don’t overheat.

Water. Provide plenty of fresh, clean water daily.

Avoid being out during the hottest period of the day. Limit activity during the hottest part of the day. Save walks, jogs, hikes and games for mornings and evenings when it’s not as hot outside.

Find shade. Make sure outside pets have access to shade.

Cool them off. You can dampen the fur of dogs and cats to keep them cool. As the water evaporates from their fur, it will cool them at the same time. You can use a light setting on your hose nozzle, a mist bottle or a damp cloth to wet them down. 

You might also consider setting up a small pet pool to give your dog a way to cool off and enjoy the outdoors during the day. Instead of picking up a kiddie pool that can be easily damaged, purchase a pool designed for dogs with a durable floor and sides that can stand up to wear and tear.

Rabbits may also need extra cooling down in the summer. They can be susceptible to heat stroke. Their habitats should be set up indoors or outdoors in the shade. You might also put a frozen water bottle or two in their hutch to allow them to cool down by resting next to it.

Brush pets regularly. Regular and thorough grooming in the summer will help clear out unnecessary loose hair in your pet’s coat that may be holding heat in. 

Take walks near water and avoid hot pavement. Rather than taking your normal neighborhood route, take your dog somewhere with water access to cool down. The pavement on roads, sidewalks and bike trails can get hot. If you’re planning a walk or jog when it’s hot out, make sure to choose a shaded path so your dog doesn’t overheat and can avoid hot surfaces.

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Sara is Farm and Dairy’s digital editor. Raised in Portage County, Ohio, she earned a magazine journalism degree from Kent State University. She enjoys spending time with her daughter, traveling, writing, reading and outdoor recreation.

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