The summer season is right around the corner- let’s talk about keeping your pets cool. Florida’s hot temperatures mean finding ways to keep cool, like keeping the air conditioning running and staying hydrated. Protecting your pets against the heat is just as important.

Heat is dangerous for pets because their bodies don’t regulate temperature the same way as humans. Because pets have fur, they don’t sweat; instead, they cool themselves by panting, which is a much slower process for cooling the body.

While dogs may love to bask in the sun, it is important to be aware of the dangers of overheating. 

Here are some tips to help keep your pets safe:

Keep your pets cool in the shade. We have many Pet-friendly restaurant patios from Dunedin to St. Pete!

Retailers and festivals also provide more options than ever for pets to join their owners for daily activities. These shared activities are great for bonding with your pet, but you’ll need to find a shady spot for them to escape the sun, and bring plenty of fresh water with you. Check the event you are attending to make sure they have accommodations for pets.

Additionally, if you’re enjoying pool time or play time in your backyard, consider giving pets a break to cool off indoors– too much time in the sun can put them at risk for heatstroke.

Be sure to monitor pets during outdoor playtime to ensure that they are safe and cool. 

It may not be as much fun but consider leaving your pets at home. Errands before or after visiting a pet-friendly venue can be dangerous for your pet. A quick trip to the bank or a stop at the grocery store can easily turn into 10 minutes or more, and you may be forced to leave your pet alone in a car longer than you anticipated.

This poses a risk because the temperature in a vehicle can rise by 20 degrees in as little as 10 minutes. In only 15 minutes, a pet left inside a hot car can sustain brain damage or even die from heatstroke. If you must take your pet with you on errands, keep the car running with the air conditioning turned on.

When you take your pup for a walk consider going in the early morning or evening hours. Concrete pavement, blacktop surfaces and bricks can heat up quickly in the sun and burn your pet’s paws – a painful accident that veterinarians see often.

Early morning or evening are the best times for walking pets in the summer. 

Avoid walking or running with your dog in the middle of the day, when the sun is at its strongest and temperatures are at their peak. Surfaces can be cooler, along with air temperatures, in the morning and evening hours.

Refrain from taking your pet on bike rides. Having your dog run alongside your bike can be dangerous for you and your pet. Your attention is split between keeping control of both your dog and your bike, making it more likely that you could have an accident. Because you’re focused on potential road hazards, you may not pick up on cues that your dog is tired or overheated as quickly as you would during a walk.

And finally and most important is to know the signs of heatstroke. Early signs of heatstroke can be subtle, such as your pet seeming less responsive than normal to general commands.

Clear symptoms include:

Heavy panting, lethargy, lack of appetite, a dark tongue, a rapid heartbeat, fever, dry mucous membranes, restlessness, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, excessive thirst, thick saliva, and lack of coordination.

Pets can exhibit one, some or all of these symptoms during heatstroke.

Signs of heatstroke may be subtle at first. Pay attention to your pup and know the signs of overheating. 

If you think your pet is experiencing heat exhaustion or stroke, rush to the nearest veterinarian or animal hospital.

The most important thing to do is get your pet to the nearest vet as quickly as possible for treatment. Use your GPS to find the nearest vet or animal hospital immediately. If it’s the weekend or a holiday, Google search for the nearest animal emergency clinic.

On your way to the veterinarian, you can start lowering your pet’s body temperature by placing wet towels, or ice packs wrapped in towels, along your pet’s chest, abdomen, and/or neck. Let your pet drink small amounts of water or lick ice cubes.

For more information on pet health and other pet blog topics visit our website at


Blog written by SPCA Tampa Bay Staff.