Summer Pet Safety Tips

cat in grass v2Summertime means fun and sun and an abundance of outdoor activities for most of us. But as much fun as summer can be, it is important to keep the safety of your pets top of mind so they stay healthy and happy all summer long.  Follow these simple safety tips to ensure a carefree season for the entire family.

Summer Pet Safety Tips

Adapted from The Humane Society of the United States and

The summer months can mean fun and sun for everyone in the family, including our pets, but they also can be uncomfortable and even dangerous due to the heat and humidity.  During the hot summer months, it is important to pay attention to a few key safety tips to ensure your pets remain safe, happy, and healthy throughout the season.

Never, ever leave pets in cars

Not even for a minute, not even with the car running and the air conditioning turned on. In the sun and warmth, your car acts like an oven and can heat up to excessive temperatures in just minutes, exceeding the temperature of the air outside. Many people think this only applies on hot summer days, but that’s not the case.  On a sunny, 72-degree day, the temperature inside a car can heat up to 116 degrees within an hour.  On an 80-degree day, a car can heat up to 99 degrees in just 10 minutes!  Rolling down the windows has no effect on the temperature inside a car. Exposing your pets to these extremes temperatures can lead to heat stroke and potentially irreversible organ damage or death.

Be mindful of humidity

It’s not just the ambient temperature that can affect your pets, it’s the humidity too.  Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, but when the humidity is high it is difficult for them to cool themselves.  This can cause their body temperature to rise dangerously very quickly.  Be mindful of this, and pay attention to your pet in the high humidity.

Provide shade and water when outside

Dehydration is a real possibility in the summer.  The signs of dehydration include dry gums, loss of skin elasticity, and excessive drooling.  To avoid this, it is important to provide plenty of shade and water anytime your pet is outside.  Tree shade or tarps can provide needed shade without obstructing airflow. Ensure that your pet has plenty of fresh water, and add ice to water whenever possible.  When playing outside, give your pets plenty of breaks and plenty of water. In the summer months, it is best not to leave your pet alone outside for more than a few minutes.

Limit exercise on hot days

Changing your exercise schedule, duration, and intensity level is key during the hot summer months.  On hot days, limit exercise to early mornings or evenings when it is cooler.  Take plenty of breaks, and have plenty of water available.  This is especially important for young kittens, senior pets, and short-nosed pets who typically have difficulty breathing. If your cat has just eaten, delay the start of playtime until she has had time to let her food digest.  Remember, asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible.

Use sunscreen

Pets, like people, are prone to sunburn and skin cancer, especially those with light skin and short or thin coats.  Apply sunscreen if you and your pets are going to be outside for more than just a few minutes.  There are sunscreens available specifically for pets; you can consult your veterinarian about which is best.  Generally, they should be free of fragrance and contain UVA and UVB barriers.

Be wary of fertilizers and pesticides

Many lawns are treated with fertilizers and pesticides during the summer, which can be harmful to pets.  Find a safe spot for your pet to romp and play that is free from these harmful chemicals.

Avoid antifreeze

Antifreeze is a danger to pets all throughout the year.  During the summer, cars have a tendency to overheat more often and leak antifreeze.  Pets find antifreeze a delicious treat, but it’s a deadly one. Be attentive when walking your dog or letting your cat roam outdoors.

Being aware of the dangers of heat and humidity in the summer months and taking precautions to safeguard your pets is incredibly important.  Following a few simple safety tips is key to keeping the whole family safe and happy all season long.