How to keep your pet safe and comfortable in hot weather

By Lacey Guck

When summer temperatures soar, it's crucial to ensure the safety and well-being of our furry companions. From recognizing the signs of heatstroke to providing proper hydration, there are many steps you can take to protect your dogs and cats during hot weather conditions.

The dangers of hot vehicles for dogs

Leaving your dog in a car, even for a few minutes, can have serious consequences. In just 10 minutes, a car can heat up by 20 degrees, and in 30 minutes, the temperature can increase by 50 degrees. This puts dogs at risk of overheating and even death. To avoid these incidents, it's best to leave your dog at home when running errands.

What to do if you see a dog in a hot car

Leaving a pet in a parked car during warm weather can lead to irreparable organ damage or even death. When it's warm outside, the temperature inside a car can become dangerously hot within a short period of time, and even rolled down windows have little effect.

If you see a dog or a cat in a hot car, here’s what the Humane Society of the United States says to do:

Be sure to learn your state's laws on leaving pets in hot cars and have essential phone numbers on hand so that you can act quickly in an emergency.

Recognizing and responding to heatstroke in dogs

Heatstroke is a serious condition that can occur in dogs when they are exposed to high temperatures for an extended period. Symptoms include heavy panting, vomiting, lethargy, and collapse. If you suspect your dog is suffering from heatstroke, it's important to take immediate action, such as moving them to a cool area, providing water, and wetting their fur. If symptoms persist, seek veterinary assistance.

Top 7 tips for maintaining the health & safety of pets during hot weather

1. Keep pets indoors during peak heat hours

Identifying the hottest part of the day is key to protecting your pets during hot weather. Keep your dogs and cats indoors during these hours and schedule outdoor activities during cooler times. Pets that are outside for extended periods during the hottest times of the day are at risk of heatstroke, so limit their time outside during these hours.

2. Ensure proper hydration

Proper hydration is crucial for pets during hot weather. To ensure they stay hydrated, follow these tips:

Signs of dehydration in dogs and cats

Signs of dehydration can vary depending on the severity of the dehydration.

In mild cases, you may notice your pet has dry gums, sunken eyes, and less elastic skin. They may also seem less interested in drinking water.

In moderate to severe cases, they may become lethargic, have a rapid heartbeat, and show signs of weakness or collapse.

If you suspect your pet is dehydrated, it is important to seek veterinary care immediately. Severe dehydration can be life-threatening and requires prompt treatment.

Getting a Lifetime Protection Membership is one of the easiest ways to make sure your pet has access to real-time veterinary support service. Members have access to our 24/7 Vet Helpline where you can get advice from veterinary experts to help understand signs and symptoms to make the best possible decision for your pet.

3. Provide cooling tools

Dogs can quickly become overheated during hot weather, and cooling them down is crucial. Use ice packs and wet towels to cool down your pet, and provide them with access to air-conditioned or breezy rooms. Protect their paws from hot pavement with paw wax or booties, and consider providing them with a small kiddie pool or a comfortable outdoor bed in a shaded area.

4. Offer chilled treats to cool down

Make homemade doggie ice cream and broth popsicles or provide chilled fruits and vegetables to help cool your pet down. These treats will not only provide your pet with essential hydration, but also help them stay cool and comfortable. Check out our recipe for homemade frozen piña colada kong treats.

5. Create shady outdoor spaces

Providing plenty of shade in your yard is crucial during hot weather. Set up a small kiddie pool or a comfortable outdoor bed for your pet to rest in and ensure that they have access to shade throughout the day. Shade is essential for preventing heatstroke in dogs and keeping them comfortable during hot weather.

6. Groom for hot weather

Regular grooming during the summer can help prevent overheating. Ensure that you groom your dog or cat at the right time for maximum effect. Regular brushing helps to remove loose fur, which allows better airflow to the skin and helps prevent matting.

You can also consider a summer haircut, which leaves enough fur for protection but still helps with airflow; just be careful not to shave your dog’s fur too short as it provides protection from the sun's rays and can prevent sunburn. Keeping your pet's paws and nails trimmed can also prevent discomfort and injury when walking on hot surfaces. Finally, make sure to check for any signs of skin irritation or hot spots caused by excessive licking or scratching.

7. Apply pet-safe sunscreen

Protect your pet’s skin from the sun's harmful rays with pet-safe sunscreen. Pet-safe sunscreen is typically free from certain ingredients that can be harmful to pets, such as zinc oxide, which can be toxic if ingested. When applying pet-safe sunscreen, it's important to choose the right SPF level for your pet and apply it regularly, especially if they are spending a lot of time outdoors in the sun. Be sure to also apply sunscreen to areas that are not covered by fur, such as their nose and ears.

Why proper pet identification is especially important during hot weather conditions

During hot weather conditions, it's important to ensure that your pet is properly identified with a microchip or ID tag. Hot weather can increase the likelihood of dogs escaping their homes or yards in search of cooler environments. This can result in disorientation and increased risk of heat-related emergencies. Having your dog microchipped or wearing a pet ID tag can help ensure that they can be quickly identified and returned to you if they become lost.

In addition to proper identification, having access to medical care is key during hot weather conditions. It's important to be able to access resources quickly and easily, such as the 24Petwatch 24/7 vet helpline with access to licensed veterinarians who can answer questions and provide advice on pet health issues.

Beat the heat this summer

As a dog or cat owner, taking the necessary steps to ensure your pet's safety and health during hot weather conditions is vital. Whether it's keeping your pet indoors during peak heat hours, providing access to water and shade, offering chilled treats, or having proper identification and access to medical care, there are many ways you can protect your pet from the dangers of hot weather.

For added care and support for the life of your pet, including 24/7 access to a vet helpline, discount on dog walking and pet sitting services, and lost pet specialists who are available 24/7/365, purchase a Lifetime Protection Membership today.


How hot is too hot for a dog or cat?

Dogs and cats can quickly overheat and become dehydrated in hot weather. The exact temperature that is considered "too hot" for a pet can vary based on factors like humidity, breed, age, and overall health. As a general rule of thumb, if it feels too hot for you to be outside, it's probably too hot for your pet as well.

Can I exercise my pet safely during hot weather?

While it's important for pets to get regular exercise, they should never overexert themselves in the heat. Exercise should be scheduled during cooler hours of the day and in shaded areas. It's also important to bring water on walks and to monitor your dog’s behavior for signs of overheating.

Are dogs affected by humidity?

Yes, humidity can affect a dog's ability to cool down. Dogs pant to regulate their body temperature, and high humidity can make it more difficult for them to do so effectively. This can increase the risk of heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Are there any special hot weather considerations for Brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds?

Brachycephalic breeds like Bulldogs, Pugs, and Boxers are particularly susceptible to heat-related illnesses due to their shortened airways. It's important to closely monitor these pets for signs of overheating and to provide extra care and attention when temperatures rise.

Can dogs overheat indoors?

Yes, dogs can overheat indoors if the temperature inside is too high and proper ventilation is not provided. Ensure that indoor pets have access to cool, well-ventilated areas and to avoid leaving them in enclosed spaces like cages or cars.

What to do if you don’t have A/C?

If you don't have air conditioning, there are still steps you can take to help keep your pet cool during hot weather. Providing access to shade, cool water, and breezy rooms can all help to prevent overheating. You can also provide cooling tools like wet towels or ice packs and limit outdoor time during peak heat hours.

Be proactive this summer

As the sun beats down and the temperature rises, it's important to remember that our furry companions feel the heat too; they're just as susceptible to heatstroke and dehydration as we are.

From keeping them indoors during peak heat hours to providing plenty of shade and cool water, it's all about taking a proactive approach to staying cool.