How to keep your pets safe and cool in summer

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When it comes to keeping your pet safe and healthy during the hottest part of the year, it pays to be well-informed and prepared for all the variables that Aussie summers like to throw at us, whether you're staying at home or travelling our beautiful country.

If the temperature is uncomfortable for you, there's a good chance it's just as displeasing to your pet. They are covered in fur after all, and we doubt anyone would voluntarily go out in forty-degree weather wearing a massive coat.

Because of this, it's important to understand the dangers that summer poses to our pets, and take steps to keep them safe and cool.

Common heat-related issues in pets

In order to properly protect your pet against the summer heat, you need to know what issues can arise, as well as how to recognise them.


If you've ever experienced heatstroke, you know how bad it feels, as well as how dangerous it can be. Unfortunately, our four-legged family members can also find themselves falling victim to this issue, so it's vital to know the signs.

If your pet is exhibiting any of the below symptoms, you need to help them cool off immediately, and contact your vet for further guidance.

  • Difficulty breathing or breathing erratically
  • Disorientation, fatigue or weakness
  • Discolouration of the gums, generally to a shade of blue
  • Excessive panting and/or thick drool
  • Vomiting, diarrhoea, or collapsing

Distress and restlessness can also be signs of heatstroke, and are generally your early warning, so if something seems off with your furry friend, it's better to be safe than sorry.

Burnt paws

Unlike humans, most dogs don't wear shoes when they leave the house. This leaves the sensitive skin on the bottom of their paws exposed to the elements and susceptible to burns from their environment.

Often also referred to as "pad burn", burnt paws can occur if your furry family member spends too long walking or standing on hot ground, and can sometimes happen instantly if the surface is hot enough.

Behavioural symptoms of burnt paws include limping, as well as biting or licking at their paws more than usual. You may also notice blisters or irritation of their pads, and, in extreme cases, parts of your four-legged friend's paws may be entirely missing.


Although it may seem odd that your furry family member can get sunburnt given, well, all that fur, it is still possible, especially if you have a lighter-coloured dog or cat.

Symptoms of sunburn present much the same in animals as they do in humans, and they can suffer the same complications, so be sure to keep your pet out of the sun when it's at its worst.


Equal to heatstroke in danger level, and generally accompanying it, dehydration can be a major concern for your pet.

Your four-legged friend will seem lethargic and gulp down any water offered if they are dehydrated, and you may notice that their mouth is rather dry.

If left untreated, dehydration can cause serious problems and even be fatal, so be sure to be on the lookout.

Tips for keeping your pet cool and safe in summer

Now that you've got a better understanding of what issues your furry family member may face during hot days, it's time to take steps to protect them.

Let them inside

Even if you've got plenty of shade in your yard, nothing beats bringing your pet inside to help protect them from the heat.

Our homes are generally climate controlled, meaning they'll be far more comfortable than the backyard. And as a good rule of thumb, if it's too hot outside for you, it's too hot for your pet.

Up their wet food intake

Protecting against dehydration is vital on hot days, so if your pet isn't on a strict diet, it's worth switching up their meals to include more wet foods.

This is because they have a far higher water content than kibble or other dry foods, meaning that they can help keep your pet's hydration levels up.

Always carry water

It doesn't matter if you're going for a short walk or out for a day trip, always bring water for both yourself and your pet.

There are plenty of portable dog bowl options on the market these days, and a simple double-walled water bottle will help keep everything cool for when your four-legged friend needs a drink.

This can also help out if your pet looks like they might be overheating, as you can use this water to help them cool off as long as it isn't too cold.

Make your own shade

Speaking of day trips, although they're almost always more fun when your pet comes along, they do require a little more planning when this is the case.

While you'll probably automatically seek shade if you're feeling too warm or the sun is starting to burn, your pet is generally going to stay close to you no matter what. Because of this, we strongly recommend bringing a shade structure with you wherever you go, as it'll be highly beneficial to everyone.

Check the pavement before going for a walk

If you can't have your hand or bare feet on the pavement for at least thirty seconds without experiencing discomfort, it's too hot for your furry friend's paws.

Although it may require changes to your schedule, we recommend taking your pet for walks during the cooler parts of the day (such as early morning or in the evening) in order to avoid burning their little pads.

For the love of all that's good in this world, never leave your pet in a hot car

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Think about how terrible it feels when you first get into the car on a hot day before the aircon kicks in, and then imagine you're trapped in that temperature for an extended period of time. If you wouldn't leave yourself or a small child in a situation, your pet shouldn't be put in it either.

If you're literally just ducking to the loo during a road trip, then the temperature in the car should stay cool long enough not to be a health issue for your furry friend, especially if you've got someone else in the car to keep the air con on and keep them company. But if you're going to be gone for any longer than this, please take your pet with you.

Don't forget to slip, slop, slap

With a wide range of pet sunscreens available, as well as some super adorable UV protective garments, your pet can enjoy the same sun protection as the rest of your family when out and about. This is particularly important for light-coloured pets, but still a good idea no matter what shade your four-legged friend's fur is.

Frozen treats are great for the mind and the body

Finally, frozen treats are a great way to help your four-legged family member keep cool during hot summer days, and they're also great for mental stimulation.

Try freezing some of your pet's favourite treats inside blocks of ice, or even making your own frozen doggie delights to keep them cool, hydrated and entertained. Bonus point here if you hide something fun inside for your pet to play with when they're done with their treat.

Final word

Keeping our pets cool, safe and comfortable during the hot summer months should be just as important as doing the same for ourselves.

The tips in this article are designed to protect your pets from the harsh sun and sweltering summer heat, and we strongly recommend following everything outlined above.

Jessica Jones
Written by
Jessica Jones
Jess has been writing educational content for almost ten years with a focus on lifestyle content. She loves coffee, dogs and all things fitness, and can often be found with her nose buried in a book and her music blaring through her earphones.

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