Despite uncomfortably hot summer days, you can still have fun with your furry pal—and keep them safe from heat stress and heatstroke. Try the following cool ways to beat the Tennessee heat with your pet this summer.

#1: Splash around to stay cool

Water is the best way to stay cool outdoors. If your pet is not a natural swimmer, stay out of the pool, and set up their own shallow wading pool. A few inches of water and some floating toys will turn any dog into a water-loving retriever. Or, you can hook up a sprinkler or splash pad and cool off by running with your pet through the spray. 

If your pet enjoys swimming—and is a good swimmer—consider heading to a pet-friendly beach or pool. Suit up your pet with a safety vest to ensure they don’t panic in deep water, and rinse them well when they have had enough swimming to remove any pathogens or chemicals. Try to keep your furry pal from lapping at pond, lake, or pool water, and offer plenty of fresh water instead.

#2: Avoid the hottest areas and parts of the day

When walking your pet, you know you will need to avoid certain hot spots, including sizzling pavements without a hint of shade, or closed-off regions where you can’t catch a breeze. Change your walking path, and stick to dirt or grassy areas with plenty of shade and air movement. 

Additionally, exercise outside during the coolest time of day, and hang out inside when it’s hot and humid. Typically, early mornings are best for outdoor activities, so have your fun before the sun becomes scorching hot.

#3: Cool off with a frozen treat

Frozen treats are a fantastic way to cool off, but do not share your ice cream with your pet, who may be sensitive to dairy products, and may suffer gastrointestinal upset and pancreatitis, because of the fat and sugar in ice cream. Instead, make your pet their own batch of healthy snacks. Stuff a rubber Kong with low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese, peanut butter, spray cheese, canned pet food, fresh fruit, or a combination of your pet’s favorites, and then freeze overnight for your pet to enjoy the next day.

Also, you can also add ice cubes made from low-sodium chicken broth or canned tuna to your pet’s water dish to encourage drinking, or simply freeze some fresh berries for a fun bobbing activity. Always ensure your pet has plenty of clean, fresh water to drink, so they do not become dehydrated.

#4: Give your pet a summertime haircut

While shaving your pet down to the skin is detrimental, a trim and a thorough brushing will help them stay cool. A pet’s hair coat is designed to help them regulate their body temperature, including keeping them cool in the summer, so shaving a thick-coated pet completely will do more harm than good. However, with regular brushing, you can remove loose fur to prevent matting, which can trap heat and cause skin infections. Pets with long hair may benefit from a trim in certain areas, provided you leave at least an inch of fur for their protection.

#5: Let your pet stay home

Although your four-legged friend loves riding shotgun, they are better off at home when you run errands. A car parked in the shade can quickly reach temperatures of more than 100 degrees, despite a 70-degree outside temperature. A running vehicle can lull you into a false sense of security, because your pet may knock into and turn off the air-conditioning control, or accidentally turn off the vehicle itself. Let your furry pal relax at home in the guaranteed cool, and bring home a special treat or toy instead.

#6: Watch for warning signs of heatstroke in your pet

Heatstroke can seriously impact your summertime fun with your pet and, left untreated, can prove fatal. Watch for overheating signs in your pet, and rush them inside where it’s cool as soon as you notice any of the following heatstroke signs:

  • Excessive panting
  • Heavy drooling
  • Brick red gums
  • Lethargy
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Weakness
  • Staggering while walking
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Collapse
  • Seizures

Ideally, you notice your pet slowing down and panting heavily, and you head inside immediately. At that point, your pet needs only fresh, cool water and a fan directed at them. However, if your pet’s temperature climbs to higher than 103 degrees, place them in the bathtub and run cool—never ice-cold—water, using the fan to speed up evaporation and heat dissipation. Check your pet’s temperature rectally and stop cooling measures once they reach 103 degrees, and then head to WesVet Animal Hospital for veterinary care.

#7: Netflix and chill—literally—with your pet

When it’s too hot and humid to go outside, hang out on the couch with your pet and binge watch your favorite Netflix series. Your furry pal will appreciate the time spent with you, and you don’t have to worry about their safety while you’re chilling inside.

Tennessee’s summer temperatures can rise to dangerous levels for your furry pal, and can quickly lead to life-threatening heatstroke. If your pet seems to be overheating, contact our WesVet Animal Hospital for help. Your pet may seem better after you’ve cooled them down, but they may have organ damage, and a veterinary evaluation is vital.