The dog days of summer will be here soon. Experts reveal how you can be prepared.

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Every day, the temperatures are continuing to increase, and in just a few months, we'll be enjoying the long, hot days of summer. For humans, air conditioners, cooling clothing, and refreshing drinks are just a few things that we use to avoid overheating. But our furry friends need other things to help them keep cool and safe in the high heat and humidity. (And no, you should absolutely not be giving your pet an alcoholic beverage to help them beat the heat.) But, there are safe and helpful things you can do. Below, experts explain how dogs and cats can naturally regulate their temperature, as well as simple tips for owners when their pets need a little bit of assistance.

Dog laying in the grass with the sun shining
Credit: Chalabala/Getty Images

1. Transferring Body Heat Via Conduction

Dogs and cats have sweat glands on their paw pads, but they’re not effective at regulating body temperature. One way for pets to deal with summer heat is to lie down on a cool surface like a tile floor. This is how they transfer their body heat and why it’s important to keep your house cool, says Josh Sosnow, D.V.M., owner of the North Scottsdale Animal Hospital in Arizona. Also, watch the heat index; if you feel hot, your pet probably does too.

2. Cooling Themselves by Panting

When a dog pants, her breath carries away body heat and replaces it with cooler air from the environment. But panting has its limits: If you see your dog producing more saliva than normal, if her body is warm to the touch, or if they are reluctant to move, get them to a cool spot. You can also wet her down with cool water (test the water temperature on yourself first if using a hose).

3. Self-Grooming to Dissipate Heat

There's a reason cats will often find a shady spot where they can groom themselves, and it's not just about looking their best. Their saliva helps dissipate heat, says Kurt R. Venator, D.V.M., Ph.D., a chief veterinary officer with Purina. So, if you notice your kitty heading to the shade, keep an eye on them, but let them lick until they are content.

4. Hydrating with Water

On hot and humid days, it’s crucial to keep tabs on water intake. Most healthy adult dogs and cats need about 1 cup for every 10 pounds of body weight. If cats are fed only wet food, their needs drop to about 1/3 cup per 10 pounds, Venator says. Cats can be finicky; fill a shallow bowl, like the Frisco Double Stainless Steel Pet Bowl with Silicone Mat ($16, originally $18, Chewy), so their whiskers don’t hit the bowl when they drink. Or, try a fountain to play off their attraction to moving water. Try the top-rated Petmate Pearl Replendish Waterer ($29, originally $33, Chewy).

5. Using their Fur for Extra Protection

Most vets don’t recommend shaving pets except for cases of extreme matting. “Fur insulates in the cold but also prevents the absorption of heat in warm weather,” Venator says. Fur also helps protect their skin from sunburn. If you do need to shave your pet, keep fur at least an inch long.


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