10 Steps For Keeping Dogs Safe in the Summer

Dr. Leah Cowburn
Published on May 7, 2018

If it is too hot outside for you, then it is even hotter for your pet! Here are 10 precautions to be mindful of as the weather becomes warmer.

1) Be able to recognize the signs of heat stress or heat stroke. If you see these signs after your pet has been in the heat, this is a medical emergency. Take your pet to the closest emergency clinic for treatment.
  • Anxious, restlessness or abnormal behavior
  • Excessive panting
  • Drooling
  • A wobbly or unsteady gait
  • Tongue and gum color that is abnormal
    • Could be blue, pale or have bruising (appear as purple dots)
  • Collapse
2) Never leave your dog in the car
  • Even with shade or windows open. The temperature in a car becomes hotter than outside very quickly
    • In 10 minutes, the temperature in your car can rise 20 degrees.  This may be hot enough to result in death of the pet.
    • In 1 hour the temperature can rise up to 50 degrees

3) Make sure your pet always has plenty of access to fresh, clean water

4) On the hottest days, keep your pets at home as much as possible, at a cooler temperature

5) Exercise your pet in the morning or evening (cooler times of the day)
  • Take frequent breaks during exercise
  • Bring plenty of water for yourself and pet
  • Don’t run, hike or take long walks during hottest part or on particularly hot days
  • Slowly get your pet used to the warmer months
6) Avoid hot surfaces, such as asphalt
  • Especially running, as this can burn dog’s paws and skin leading to pain and infection
7) Use veterinary prescribed flea, tick and mosquito preventative, as these diseases are more common in the warmer months
  • Diseases associated with parasites are thus prevented, as they can be difficult and expensive to treat

8) Overweight pets and short-nosed breed dogs have a higher chance of having problems in the heat

9) Consult your veterinarian about whether a haircut or sunscreen would benefit your dog
  • Some breeds such as retrievers may do better with a short hair coat
  • Certain white-faced dogs (Boxers, Pit Bulls) may benefit from sunscreen

10) Make sure your lawn service company is aware you have a dog so pet-safe products are used
  • Some fertilizer and insecticides can be toxic to pets or cause skin irritation
  • Cocoa bean mulch is toxic because it contains similar products to chocolate


  • Bruchin, Yarom. “Canine Heatstroke: Patient Management”. International Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Symposium. Veterinary Information Network, 2016.
  •  Warm Weather Pet Safety. American Veterinary Medical Association, 2018

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Dr. Leah Cowburn
Dr. Leah Cowburn is a graduate of Western University of Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine. She completed a post-graduate internship and worked as an emergency veterinarian at one of the largest emergency/specialty hospitals in the country. Leah now works in private practice in Maryland that is dedicated to community outreach for an underserved community. She has a special interest in pain management, quality of life, alternative and physical therapy and is currently being certified as a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner through the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.

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