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At the most recent membership meeting of the National Capital Area Professional Pet Sitters Network, we shared our most important hot weather tips for pet parents.  With no end in sight for our area heat waves, I couldn’t think of a better blog topic for this week. 

So how can we make sure our pets stay cool and safe in the heat?

Know what dogs and breeds are less tolerant of the heat. Senior, obese and brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds such as pugs, boxers and bulldogs are prone to heatstroke and breathing problems when exposed to extreme temperatures.  Pets with health issues can also be more susceptible to hot weather.

Do not leave pets in the car.  This one seems obvious, but people still do it.  It only takes a few minutes for the temperature

to rise to an unbearable level, even if you crack the windows or park in the shade.  Remember: Pets have fur coats designed to keep the heat in and they don’t cool themselves as easily as we can.  Pets left unattended in a car on a day with outdoor temperatures over 70 can suffer from dehydration, brain damage, heat stroke or suffocation.

Adjust your walking schedule.  In the summer months it is best to take your dog for walks in the mornings and evenings when it is cooler and to keep midday breaks as short as possible.  Even during the coolest part of the day, watch for signs of distress.  Early signs could be as simple as reduced responsiveness, increased heart rate and excessive drooling.  Bright red tongue and gums, glassy eyes and extreme panting are signs of a dog in immediate danger of heat stroke.

Keep paws off asphalt. Being so close to the ground, pets can heat up quickly and sensitive paw pads can burn. Check the pavement for heat before taking your dog on a walk. Place your hand or a bare foot on the surface for 10 seconds. If it is too hot for you to keep your hand or foot on it, then it is too hot for your pet. Stay on grassy surfaces and avoid asphalt when outside in the summer heat.

Provide breaks. Some times the difference between an enjoyable stint outdoors and overheating is a break in the shade. If your neighborhood lacks coverage, bring an umbrella along. And if it is extremely hot, you can even hose your dog down prior to setting out.  The water dripping off them will keep them cool and they will be dry before returning home.

Hydrate. Make sure your pets have access to lots of clean, fresh water before, during and after time spent in the heat and humidity.  You can bring a collapsible bowl or a water dispenser like the Gulpy with you on walks.

Protect their skin. Dogs have fur over their skin, but just like humans dogs need protection from the harmful rays of the sun.  Use sunscreen wipes specifically designed for pets on their nose, ears, muzzle and any areas that have short or light-colored fur to prevent sunburn.

Do not leave pets unsupervised near bodies of water.  Stay close to your dog while playing in a pool, lake, river or the ocean, as not all dogs are skilled swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they know where the exits are. Get a flotation device for your dog if going on a boat. Always provide plenty of fresh, clean drinking water. The chlorine and other chemicals in pool water can be harmful.  Ingesting salt water can cause dehydration, vomiting, and diarrhea. Water in lakes, ponds and rivers may contain parasites and bacteria that can infect your dog.

Do not shave your dog.  The layers of a dog’s coat protect them from overheating and sunburn.  Trimming longer fur is okay.

Have cooling items available. Water is not the only cooling agent available after time in the heat.  Cooling down can be fun and feel rewarding for your pup with these fun items and ideas:

  • Purchase a cooling mat, vest or collar
  • Freeze stock or water with your pup’s favorite fruits and vegetables in silicone ice trays for a fun frozen treat
  • Give your furry friend dog-friendly ice cream
  • Get a baby pool or set up a sprinkler for your pup to make outdoor time more enjoyable

When the temperature rises, we need to take extra caution to make sure our pets are safe, healthy and happy during the hot weather. Even the healthiest pets can suffer from dehydration, heat stroke and sunburn if overexposed to the heat.  Any of these can be fatal if not treated promptly. Remember, if you are hot, your dog is definitely hot.  It is up to you to keep them safe and healthy.

To get started with Passionately Pets, call us today at 571-438-2323 or visit our website to schedule your consultation.


Passionately Pets has been a trusted pet care provider in Northern Virginia since 2007.  We proudly provide dog walking, pet sitting and overnight services for dogs, cats and other companion animals in Arlington, Alexandria, Annandale and Falls Church.  Visit our website,, to request a consultation or more information.  For more pet filled content, follow us on Instagram and like us on Facebook @passionatelypets.

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