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Helpful tips for keeping pets safe and cool this summer

Dog at beach in summer
Avoid exercising your dog during the warmest parts of the day as the risk for heatstroke is quite high. Instead, opt for taking Fido out in the early morning and later evening when temperatures are cooler.

Help your pets beat the summer heat  

The dog days of summer are here.

While many be revelling in the long-awaited arrival of warm and sunny days, the hot temperatures can be uncomfortable, and even dangerous for pets. Being covered in fur and with a limited ability to cool themselves, special attention should be given to ensuring they remain safe and comfortable, especially during a heat wave.  

Here are some tips for keeping your pets safe and happy this summer:

Leave pets at home, never in a hot vehicle

A parked vehicle on a hot day is a dangerous, even deadly place for an animal. In fact, according to the BC SPCA, a dog left in a hot car can perish in just 10 minutes. Learn what to do if you come across a pet locked alone in a vehicle on a hot summer day

Plan ahead and leave pets at home when out running errands. Taking steps to cool your home will help them be more comfortable, and you'll appreciate returning to cooler temperatures too.

When pets are at-home, follow these tips to keep them safe and comfortable: 

  • If you leave windows open to bring cool air into your home, ensure they have a secure, locking screen to prevent your dog or cat from escaping or accidently falling through.
  • Ensure your pet's ID tag is up-to-date with your contact information. If you have an indoor cat, consider writing ‘indoor cat’ on the tag. This way, if they get out and are found, neighbours will know they’re not supposed to be out wandering.
  • If your pet has free reign in the home when you're out, keep doors open to darker and cooler areas – like those to the bathrooms or basement – so they have a cool place to hang out.
  • If your dog is in a crate while you're out, put the crate in a cool room and consider purchasing a cooling mat to place inside. These mats are made of a special kind of cooling gel that's activated by the pressure of your pet's body. 
  • And of course, an ample supply of fresh water should always be available.

Get outdoors, just avoid the mid-day heat 

One of the best parts of summer is the warm weather and long days provide amble opportunity for you to enjoy more outings and check out new places with your dog (or your cat too!).

Keep these tips in mind so you both get the most of your outdoor adventures:

  • Opt for walking in the early morning and later in the evening when temperatures are lower.
  • Did you know that walking on a hot sidewalk can actually burn a dog’s sensitive foot pads? To reduce this risk, consider walking on a trail, preferably with lots of trees to provide additional shade.
  • Keep an eye on your pet and watch for signs that they're overheating. Get to know the signs of heatstroke in pets
  • If your dog loves the water, why not take them to a local lake or river to splash around and cool off? Some of BC Hydro's recreation areas offer dog-friendly areas to chill-out with your pooch. One of the most popular is the dog beach at Buntzen Lake – just remember to plan ahead as the site gets very busy on summer days.  

Other tips: pet grooming and food hazards

Remember to keep a close eye on pets during summer barbeques and get-togethers to ensure they're not ingesting snacks they shouldn't have. Foods like raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol can be deadly for pets and alcoholic beverages can cause intoxication and comas. 

Shaving off a dog or cat's fur to help them stay cool can actually have the opposite effect, depending on the breed. Many animals' coats are designed to be an insulator, keeping the cool air close to the skin when temperatures rise. Shaving off all (or most) of their fur also removes their skin's first-line defense against sunburns, twigs and other hazards. Rather than shaving, a little trim and some regular brushing to help increase air circulation should do the trick.

Here's to a safe and enjoyable summer with your pets.