The Dog Days of Summer

By Krista Elliott

We all know the general rules for keeping ourselves safe during the warmer summer months. We put on sunblock, stay in the shade as much as possible, and make a point of staying well-hydrated. But in the scorching summer sun and oppressive heat, are you making sure that your own dog, cat, or other furry friend is safe? 

Every few days, it seems as though there is a news story about a dog being left in a hot car. This is very dangerous in its own right. But even if your dog or cat are in your own yard or home, the sun and heat can still cause serious health issues. 

So, how to keep your furry friends safe in the summer? 

Dogs

Walking your dogs is great fun and exercise for both of you. In the summer months, though, it's best to schedule your walks during the early morning or late evening when the temperature has gone down to more reasonable levels. Some people clip their dog's fur super-short in the summer, thinking it will keep them cool. Unfortunately, it can increase your dog's risk of sunburn. The best option is to keep your dog's fur long enough that their skin isn't exposed, but still short enough to allow a decent amount of airflow. Don't use sunscreen meant for humans on your dog's exposed skin, as it can be very toxic for them. Your pet supply store should have special sunblock that is safe for animals. 

Hydration and shade are the two best gifts you can give your dog during the summer months. Whether you're at home or out and about, make sure your dog has plenty of access to cool, fresh water. And shade is vitally important, but make sure the shade is in a well-ventilated area. A traditional doghouse may have shade, but its lack of ventilation can make it stifling. For added cooling when at home, a child's wading pool with an inch or two of water, kept in a shaded area, can be a refreshing treat for Rover. 

Cats

Cats can be very prone to sunburn and skin cancer, especially if they are white. Again, pet sunblock helps protect any exposed skin. As well, ensuring that there are plenty of shady areas for your cat to rest will be a big help. 

As with dogs, hydration is paramount. Cats tend to be a little fussier about their water, however, so changing water bowls often and making certain that your cat has plenty of bowls from which to choose, will help even the most finicky feline stay refreshed. 

Regular grooming also helps cats stay cool, by helping distribute air through their fur, and also by removing loose undercoat. Special de-shedding combs or brushes can keep undercoat to a minimum, keeping your pet even cooler. 

With a few extra precautions and a vigilant eye on your pet's health, you can keep your furry friend safe and healthy no matter how high the temperature soards.