What Does Heat Safety for Pets Look Like?

As temperatures rise and hit scorching, it’s essential for pet owners to be mindful of heat safety for pets and the dangers it can pose to their dogs. There are a variety of considerations, from avoiding leaving pets in hot cars to being cautious about pavement temperatures and using sunscreen for dogs. This quick guide will walk you through the critical aspects of keeping your pets safe during the hottest months of the year.

Dog leaning out of the car window

1. Leaving Your Pet in Your Car

One of the most crucial rules for pet owners is to never leave their pets in a parked car, even for a few minutes. The temperature inside a parked vehicle can skyrocket quickly, leading to potentially fatal heatstroke. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), on an 85-degree day, the temperature inside a car with the windows slightly open can reach 104 degrees within 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, it can climb to 119 degrees or more.

Signs of Heatstroke in Pets:

  • Excessive panting and drooling
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Lethargy or unresponsiveness
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Collapse or seizures

Preventative Measures:

  • Never leave your pet in a parked car, even with the windows cracked.
  • Use drive-through services or bring a friend along to stay with your pet if you need to run errands.
  • If you see a pet left alone in a hot car, contact local authorities immediately.
Dog standing on two legs due to the hot pavement.

2. Pavement Temperature: Protecting Your Pet’s Paws

Hot pavement can cause serious burns to your pet’s paws. During the summer, asphalt can get significantly hotter than the air temperature. When the air temperature is 77 degrees, asphalt can reach up to 125 degrees. If the air temperature is 87 degrees, the asphalt can be as hot as 143 degrees.

Testing the Pavement:

  • Place the back of your hand on the pavement for seven seconds. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pet.

Preventative Measures:

  • Walk your dog early in the morning or late in the evening when the pavement is cooler.
  • Walk your pet on grass or dirt paths instead of asphalt.
  • Consider using pet booties to protect their paws from the heat.

3. Sunscreen for Dogs: Yes, They Need It Too!

Just like humans, dogs can get sunburned, especially those with short or thin fur, light-colored fur, or pink skin. Sunburn can lead to painful burns and increase the risk of skin cancer.

Choosing a Sunscreen:

  • Use a pet-safe sunscreen, as human sunscreens can contain ingredients that are toxic to pets.
  • Look for sunscreens that are free of zinc oxide and para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA).

Application Tips:

  • Apply sunscreen to areas with little or no fur, such as the nose, ears, belly, and groin.
  • Reapply sunscreen every few hours, especially if your pet is swimming or playing outdoors.

4. Hiking Precautions: Keeping Your Pet Safe on the Trail

Hiking is a great way to exercise and bond with your pet, but it’s essential to take precautions to ensure their safety in hot weather.


  • Choose shaded trails and avoid hiking during the hottest part of the day.
  • Bring plenty of water for both you and your pet. Portable water bowls and pet-friendly hydration packs are useful.
  • Check trail conditions beforehand to ensure they are pet-friendly.

During the Hike:

  • Take frequent breaks in the shade.
  • Watch for signs of overheating, such as excessive panting, drooling, and lethargy.
  • Keep your pet on a leash to prevent them from wandering off and getting lost or encountering wildlife.

Post-Hike Care:

  • Check your pet’s paws for cuts, burns, or blisters.
  • Give your pet a cool bath or shower to help them cool down.
Dog drinking from a water bottle

5. Providing Ample Water and Shade

Hydration is critical for pets, especially in hot weather. Dehydration can quickly become a serious issue.

Signs of Dehydration:

  • Dry nose and gums
  • Sunken eyes
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of skin elasticity

Hydration Tips:

  • Ensure your pet always has access to fresh, cool water. Consider using a pet fountain to encourage drinking.
  • Bring extra water on walks, hikes, and trips.
  • Provide shaded areas in your yard or outdoor space where your pet can rest.

6. Grooming for Hot Weather

Proper grooming can help your pet stay cool and comfortable during the summer.

Grooming Tips:

  • Regularly brush your dog to remove excess fur and prevent matting.
  • Avoid shaving your dog down to the skin, as this can expose them to sunburn and reduce their ability to regulate body temperature. Instead, opt for a trim to keep their coat manageable.

7. Signs of Heat-Related Illnesses in Pets

Being aware of the signs of heat-related illnesses can help you act quickly to prevent serious health issues.

Heat Exhaustion:

  • Excessive panting and drooling
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Vomiting and diarrhea


  • Rapid heart rate
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bright red gums and tongue
  • Collapse and seizures

First Aid Steps:

  • Move your pet to a cooler area immediately.
  • Offer small amounts of cool water.
  • Use cool (not cold) water to wet your pet’s body, focusing on the head, neck, and paws.
  • Dampen a towel or rag with cool water, and wipe down exposed skin, and in “arm pits” of the arms and legs.
  • Soak paws in cool (not cold) water.
  • Seek veterinary care immediately if you suspect heatstroke.
  • Remember: Ice water to drink or cool a dog experiencing over heating or heat stroke can cause shock. Gradual cooling is safe cooling.
Dog with sunglasses on, siting in a packed suitcase.

8. Safe Travel Tips for Hot Weather

If you’re traveling with your pet during the summer, take extra precautions to ensure their safety and comfort.

Car Travel:

  • Never leave your pet alone in the car.
  • Use a pet-safe travel crate or harness to secure your pet.
  • Keep the air conditioning on and make frequent stops to offer water and bathroom breaks.

Air Travel:

  • Choose pet-friendly airlines and book direct flights to minimize travel time.
  • Use an airline-approved pet carrier with proper ventilation.
  • Check airline policies regarding pets and hot weather restrictions.
Dog diving in a swimming pool.

9. Protecting Pets from Hot Weather Hazards

Summer can bring specific hazards that pet owners need to be mindful of.

Swimming Pools:

  • Never leave your pet unsupervised around a pool.
  • Teach your pet how to enter and exit the pool safely.
  • Rinse your pet with fresh water after swimming to remove chlorine or salt.

Barbecues and Cookouts:

  • Keep pets away from hot grills, coals, and open flames.
  • Avoid feeding your pet human food, as some can be toxic (e.g., onions, garlic, chocolate).

Insects and Pests:

  • Use pet-safe insect repellents to protect your pet from mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks.
  • Check your pet for ticks after spending time outdoors and remove them promptly.


By following these essential strategies you can help your dogs stay safe and comfortable during the hottest months of the year.

By being aware of the dangers and taking the necessary precautions, you can ensure that your pets enjoy a safe and enjoyable summer. Remember, your pet relies on you to protect them, so always keep their well-being top of mind.

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