Summer Heatwave Precautions for Pets

Jul 7, 2018

Drinking from the lawn sprinkler can be fun!
Credit anneheathen [Flickr]

Being outside on a sunny summer day may seem like a great idea, but hot humid weather can be dangerous for our furry friends.  Your four-legged companion depends on you to keep it safe and healthy in the sweltering summer heat.


This year’s summer heatwave has caused record-setting high temperatures in Europe, the Middle East, Canada and the United States. The excessive heat and humidity has resulted in serious health problems and some deaths. Summer is a time when we need to look out for our pets in the hot weather, but this year it’s especially important to make sure your furry friend is safe.

Both dogs and cats are susceptible to heat stroke. The symptoms include heavy panting, lethargy, drooling, vomiting and collapse. If you suspect your pet has suffered a heat stroke, it’s not enough to just cool down your pet – get it to a veterinarian immediately, because heat stroke can cause permanent organ damage and even death.

Walk your dog in the morning or evening when temperatures are not so high. Avoid pavement or other hot surfaces which can burn or blister your pet’s feet. If it’s too hot for you to walk on it barefooted, it’s probably too hot for your pet as well.

Think of ways to help your four-legged friend cool off – maybe a fan to create a breeze, or ice cubes in the water bowl. Speaking of water, your pet will probably drink more in the heat, so be sure to refill the bowl more often on hot days.

Something else that will benefit your furry friend is keeping its coat brushed, to remove dead hair. Talk to your veterinarian before trimming your pet’s coat to help it cope with the heat, but don’t shave it off. Leave it at least an inch long to protect it from the sun.

Pets can get sunburned, especially around their ears and nose, so sunscreen might be helpful. Products for humans can have ingredients which are toxic to animals, so use one specially formulated for your type of pet.

And please – NEVER leave your pet unattended in a parked car, even with the windows open, even in the shade. It’s just too hot. No errand, no matter how brief, is worth your pet’s life.

A few simple precautions can help keep your best friend happy, healthy and safe in the sweltering summer heat and humidity, when you’re speaking of pets.