Photo Credit: KDKA

For many, summer is the best time of the year. Warm sunny days with time to relax and enjoy the outdoors. That is until the climbing temperatures and the beating sun reach sweltering territory, then it can be difficult to stay cool and comfortable. The “dog days of summer” can be just as difficult for your dog (or your cat, for that matter). When it’s time for you to find ways to keep cool, it is important that you consider how to keep your pets cool, too. Here are some tips from Lynette Vybiral of the Washington County Humaine Society for keeping your pets cool and healthy this summer.

Washington County Humane Society
1527 Route 136
Eighty Four, PA 15301
(724) 222-7387

Lynette is currently the director of development at Washington Area Humane Society. She has over 15 years experience in non-profit fundraising, with recent past highlights at Butler Co. Humane Society, Pittsburgh Opera and WQED-Pittsburgh. Her experience includes event & project management, major & individual gifts, volunteer coordinating and organizational management. It was a life-long goal of hers to work with an animal welfare organization, and the satisfaction she gets every day helping the homeless dogs and cats in Washington Co. is immeasurable.

Never Leave  Your Pet Alone In A Car

Never leave your animal unattended in the car, even if you are only planning to run a quick errand. Temperatures in vehicles left in the sun can reach well over 100 degrees, even with the windows cracked. It takes only 15-20 minutes for a dog to suffer heat stroke and organ damage – even 30 seconds in a hot car can cause extreme distress. Bring them in with your or leave them home.

Related: Best Dog Runs In Pittsburgh

Provide Plenty Of Water And Shade

Provide plenty of water and shade for your pet when it’s hot out. Tarps work well for shade, as the air can still circulate, while a dog house actually traps hot air. Add ice cubes to water bowls to keep the water cool, and even provide special frozen pup treats for your pet. Recipes can be found on many websites! Consider a baby swimming pool, too, as many breeds love to splash and sit in the water.

Take A Break From Exercise

Limit exercise on really hot days. You can still go for a walk, but cut back the distance and time spent out. Try to take walks during cooler parts of the day, such as morning and evening. Hot pavement can also burn the pads of the feet, so be aware of where you’re walking and try to stick to the grassy areas.

Resist The Urge To Shave Your Pet

It may seem like a good idea to remove some fur to help cool your pet, but if your pet doesn’t normally get shaved as part of a grooming process, shaving them for the summer isn’t always the best idea. Many coats help protect from overheating and sunburn, and sunscreens aren’t meant for animals. Trimming a coat may help, but as always, check with your vet before completely shaving a coat (for cats and dogs). Try some other options, such as cooled, wet towels.

Watch For Signs Of Trouble

Watch for signs of heatstroke in your pet – excessive panting, glazed eyes, and extreme lethargy are signs that your pet is in distress. Animals susceptible to heatstroke are older animals, animals who are overweight, and those with shorter snouts, such as Pugs and Persians, as they can have a harder time breathing in extreme heat and humidity, which leads to overheating.

Related: 6 Tips for Owning A Dog In Urban Areas

Jennifer Stockdale is a native of the greater Pittsburgh, PA area. She is a restaurant marketer and wine enthusiast and one of the hosts of the East Coast Wine Geeks Podcast. Her work can be found at