Imagine if you had to wear a fur coat all summer long. Here’s how to keep your pets comfortably cool.
Step 1: Keep pets out of parked cars Never leave a pet in a parked car when it’s hot—not even for a few minutes. Even a car parked in the shade can go from an inside temperature of 80 degrees to over 120 degrees within five minutes—and leaving the windows down doesn’t help.
Step 2: Brush them Brush cats and dogs at least every other day. When their fur is matted, it traps body heat. You can give them a shorter haircut for the summer—but don’t shave them to the skin, or they won’t have any protection from the sun.
TIP: After grooming your pets, leave a little of their fur in your backyard; it deters deer, which carry the ticks that cause Lyme disease.
Step 3: Moisturize their paws Rub some aloe vera gel or vitamin E oil onto their paws a few times a week. It prevents the footpad cracks that make them more vulnerable to burns when they walk on hot pavement—although you should try to walk them on grass when possible.
Step 4: Give them extra water Keep their water bowl full and add a little water to their food for further protection against dehydration.
TIP: Add a little Pedialyte or Gatorade to their water bowl to replace lost electrolytes.
Step 5: Cool your pets’ ears and paws Spritz your pets’ ears and paws with a spray bottle filled with cold water; that’s where they release heat. Or rub their tummies with an ice pack.
TIP: If you’re at the pool or beach, rinse pets after you leave; salt and chlorine can dry out their skin just like yours.
Step 6: Give dogs a spoonful of honey If your dog is panting a lot, rub some honey on his gums; it will help prevent heat stroke by raising his blood sugar.
Step 7: Hand out ice cubes Make ice cubes out of diluted chicken broth and add them to your pets’ water bowls. The flavor will entice them to drink more, and the ice will keep the water cool. Or give them a cube to chew or lick instead of a treat.
Step 8: Provide shade If your pets are going to be outside in the hot sun, make sure there’s some shade available, like a tree in your yard or an umbrella at the pool.
Step 9: Know the warning signs If your pets have glazed eyes, labored breathing, and/or purple tongues, splash them with water and call the vet; they could be going into heat exhaustion.
FACT: Dogs and cats can get sunburned just like people! Rub some baby sunscreen on their exposed skin and try not to let them lick it off before it dries.