Tips for surviving dog days of summer

Pets left alone in a parked car for even fifteen minutes can die from heatstroke.There’s not much that beats palling around with a pup during the summer. We want you to fully enjoy your fun in the sun but higher temperatures require additional awareness. Here’s a list of five do’s and don’ts to make sure you and your pets stay safe all season long.

DO make sure your dog can get cool

Although you may be a sun seeker, your pooch needs access to shade and plenty of fresh, clean water in the summer months. Asphalt, concrete, and sand can scorch the sensitive pads on your pet’s paws, so try to provide alternative routes that include more grass and less burn. Not sure if the ground is too hot for your pal? Test it yourself: If you can’t hold the back of your hand down on the ground for more than 5 seconds, then it’s too hot for your dog’s paws too.

DON’T over-exercise your dog

Be mindful of over-exercising your pet. Sometimes that is easier said than done, as some pups will fetch all day! Make sure to follow their cues – heavy panting, excessive drooling and rapid breathing could mean they need to cool down. Make sure you set break times to enjoy a cool drink in the shade.

DON’T leave your dog alone in the car

It’s no secret that cars get hot in the summer, but do you know just how hot they get?  According to the Golden Gate Weather Services, temperatures inside an enclosed car can rise 19° F (10° C) in just 10 minutes. That means, on an 80° F (26° C) day your pup is enduring temperatures upwards of 99° F (37° C) in just 10 minutes! Cracking the window is not an effective solution to slow temperature increase or reduce heat.  

It is never okay to leave your pet alone in a car – not once, not for a minute. The Department of Motor Vehicles reports that 14 states in the US have imposed laws against leavings pets unattended in running or parked cars.  

DO consider pests as they pertain to your pup

If you know you’re going to be in a particularly buggy area, consider consulting your vet about prevention for fleas, ticks and other insects. Human bug sprays aren’t safe for pets, but there are pet-safe alternatives. Keep your dog away from stagnant water and avoid walks during high mosquito hours without protection. Make sure to check your dog for ticks if you live in an area where ticks are found, especially after walks through wooded or grassy areas.

DON’T indiscriminately shave their fur

Often times, pet parents think shaving their pets’ coats is a good defense against the heat, but the layers of hair can actually protect them from overheating and sunburn. Trimming shorter is fine and professional groomers usually know what is best from experience. Of course, we recommend a nice brushing to remove dead, excess fur.

Whether you’re at the park or at the beach, backyard BBQ or campground, we wish you and your furry family members a happy healthy summer. Enjoy!


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Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Jan Hannah, Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Kate Nattrass Atema, Program Director, Community Animal Welfare
Program Director, Community Animal Welfare
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters