Enjoying a lazy summer day with your four-legged friend is the best. However, to prevent them from overheating, you should limit your furry pal’s outdoor time during the scorching Texas summer. When soaking in the summer sun with your pet, keep them cool, comfortable, and safe by following our Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital professionals’ do’s and don’ts. 

DO check the forecast before heading outdoors with your pet

Our usual Austin weather forecast calls for sun, heat, and humidity, but take a look at the hourly breakdown for unexpected cool-offs during the day. Typically, the early morning is the coolest and least humid part of the day, but a flash summer storm can cool off the afternoon, making that time of day ideal for play and exercise. Plan your pet’s outdoor time around the weather, keeping an eye out for each day’s coolest temperatures and lowest humidity levels. 

DON’T assume your pet knows when to quit

You may think your pet knows when they are getting too hot to continue their game of fetch, but some pets keep going until they literally drop. If your dog is highly active and driven to play, monitor them closely, and end the outdoor exercise session when they begin to pant excessively and drool heavily.

DO offer your pet plenty of shade, ventilation, and water

While a shady spot provides relief from the blistering sun, ensure the spot has adequate ventilation, or your pet will continue to overheat. An open garage or porch with a fan provides your pet adequate shade and ventilation to cool down. In addition, ensure your pet has easy access to a large bowl of fresh, cool water so they can relax in comfort. 

DON’T shave your pet down to the skin

Although removing all your pet’s fur may seem like a great way to keep them cool, shaving them down to the skin can do more harm than good. In addition to providing sunburn protection, a pet’s hair coat has thermoregulating and insulating capabilities. If you shave your pet completely, they will actually have more difficulty remaining cool. Instead, trim long-haired pets and remember to brush them regularly to remove loose hairs and prevent matting. 

DO play in the water with your pet

Pets often enjoy splashing in water, and water activities provide your pet a fantastic way to beat the heat. Fill a wading pool with a few inches of water, and toss in some of your pet’s favorite toys. Or, set up a sprinkler, and watch your kids and dog dart through the spraying water. For a special treat on a hot day, your dog will enjoy a cooling “pup-sicle” that you can make by studding ice cubes with dog treats or flavored with a small amount of low-sodium chicken broth. 

DON’T leave your pet unattended around the swimming pool

Although water activities are wonderful for cooling off, do not leave your pet in the swimming pool unattended. Not all pets are skilled swimmers, and many pets panic when they are in water over their head. Prevent your pet’s pool access unless you are there to supervise, and always outfit your pet with a safety vest when they swim in the pool’s deep end. Remember to always hose off your pets’ fur to remove chlorine and other chemicals when they are done swimming in the pool for the day.

DO know pets’ heatstroke signs

Being able to quickly recognize your pet’s heatstroke signs is one of the most important ways to defend your pet from summer’s heat. Closely watch your pet for the following heatstroke signs:

  • Excessive panting
  • Thick, ropy drool
  • Lethargy
  • Staggering
  • Bright red gums
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Collapse

At your pet’s first sign of overheating, bring them indoors and begin cooling measures. Place your pet in the bathtub and continuously run cool—not cold—water over them, ensuring their head remains above water. Direct a fan at them to speed up evaporation and heat dissipation. Check your pet’s temperature every five minutes, and stop the cooling treatment once their temperature reaches 103 degrees. Heatstroke can cause organ damage, so after any overheating episode, you should take your pet to Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital for a comprehensive physical exam and organ function evaluation. 

Follow our heat safety tips to keep your fur coat-wearing friend cool and comfortable this summer. However, we understand that accidents happen, and your pet may overheat. If you notice them excessively panting or drooling, or walking unsteadily, bring your pet to our Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital team for treatment and a full physical exam.