8 Ways To Keep Your Pet Safe This Summer

If you’re already insanely hot and sticky this summer season — and, sigh, it’s not even August — just imagine how your furry friend feels (furry being the operative word). 


High temperatures are just one of the summer dangers for pets, and there are a slew of other sizzling things that can harm them, like, hot asphalt, fireworks and, the unimaginable, leaving them unattended in a boiling hot car. 


“Even when a car’s windows are cracked open or it’s parked in the shade, the interior temperature can increase dramatically in a short time,” says Dr. Lori Bierbrier, medical director of the ASPCA’s community medicine department. “On an 85-degree day, a car’s interior can climb to 100 degrees in 10 minutes; in 30 minutes, it can reach 120 degrees.”



It’s always best to err on the side of caution and leave your pets at home instead of in your car, no matter how inconvenient that may be. 


“Every year, we see alarming numbers of pets dying or severely injured when trapped in hot cars, which is a very preventable tragedy,” adds Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA. “It’s always worth reminding owners: never leave your pet in a parked car. And if you see an animal trapped in a hot car, try to locate the owner or call 911 and stay nearby until help arrives.”


Read on for more tips from the ASPCA for keeping your pets safe this summer:



Always offer your pets plenty of water. You need more water when it’s hot outside and so do pets! The ASPCA says animals can get dehydrated very quickly so always offer them water when they’re having fun — whether it be sunbathing or playing fetch — outdoors. Make sure there’s always a shady spot they can retreat to. Be aware that overheating when it’s too hot outside is really a thing for pets, symptoms include: excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse, the ASPCA says. Pets with flat faces can be more susceptible to heat stroke, click here to learn more.



Never leave pets alone in a parked cars. You’ve seen the heartbreaking stories on social media — way too many pets are left to die in hot cars. It’s illegal to leave animals in cars in many states, so it’s best to not even consider it an option. “Animals trapped in a sweltering car can quickly develop signs of heatstroke, including difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rates, seizures, and severe harm to vital organs,” says Bierbrier.  “As time goes on and the car’s temperature continues to rise, a trapped pet’s chances for survival decline exponentially.” For more info on this topic, read the ASPCA’s helpful infographic.



Never leave pets unsupervised in or around pools. Pool parties are for people, not pets! Not all animals are Olympic swimmers therefore you shouldn’t expect any of them to take to water easily. The ASPCA suggests gradually introducing your pets to water and having them wear flotation devices on boats. Additionally, you wouldn’t drink pool water and neither should your pets. It’s also always a good idea to rinse them off after swimming in chlorine.



Protect those paws! Beware of hot asphalt or sand. One word: Ouch! That’s how it feels to step on asphalt or sand that’s been baking in the sun all day, so always keep the safety of those precious paws in mind. Pets close to the ground can warm up quickly, the ASPCA says, so it’s recommended that you keep walks to a minimum during the hottest times of the day, like early afternoon.


Don’t pass the BBQ food on to furry friends. It’s tough to police people at house parties — especially the kind who give handouts to dogs that beg for food. Raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol are dangerous for pets, so avoid these things, or, better yet, board pets during parties so there are zero temptations. Additionally, alcohol can cause intoxication, depression and comas, the ASPCA says, so don’t even think about offering any to pets. 


Secure windows in your home. An unscreened, open window could spell serious trouble for a curious kitty or even a dog. Never open windows without screens and make sure any screens in your house are fully secure.



Steer clear of fireworks. Fireworks and furballs are two things that just don’t go together. Aside from the obvious danger that lit fireworks pose — burns being a serious one — most animals are terrified of loud noises, so booming fireworks may cause them to run off, hide and ultimately get separated from you. It’s just not worth the risk. The ASPCA recommends finding a safe, escape-proof place they can hang when you’re watching fireworks or when loud thunderstorms move through your area — and always make sure your pet is wearing an ID tag should the unthinkable happen. 


No matter the season, regular vet checks are just a good idea. Heartworm disease, which is transmitted by everyone’s least favorite insect, the mosquito, can be fatal for pets, so getting a heartworm preventative from your veterinarian should be a top priority. Ticks also pose a threat to animals this time of year. It goes without saying that regular check ups are always recommended for the overall health of your pet.


For more safety tips, including how to care for a pet’s fur during the summer, visit the ASPCA’s website.


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Amy Jamieson

A former senior editor for People.com, Amy launched People Pets for People magazine in 2008. Now she writes about pets, lifestyle and more from her bucolic saltbox in Collinsville, Connecticut, usually with a cat in her lap and a dog at her feet.

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