Even during these uncertain times, warm summer days and nights for you and your pets will still likely mean hiking, park visits, barbecues with family and close friends, and maybe even a few firecrackers. Many of these favorite summer activities, however, require a little forethought when it comes to your pets. Take some precautions to keep your dogs and cats safe and happy this summer.

If the heat is bothering you, your pet is uncomfortable too

Sweating is your body’s way of cooling you off. Dogs and cats pant and sweat a bit through their paws. It’s not terribly efficient, so be sure to watch your pet for signs of overheating—heavy panting, excessive drooling, anxiety, and weakness. Provide plenty of freshwater and access to shade or air conditioning. You may also consider a summer haircut for your dog but keep an inch of length to prevent sunburn.

If your dog or cat is with you in a car, NEVER leave them to run errands. It takes only minutes for a car to heat up to dangerous levels.

Planning for vacations and long weekends

Pets left at home need a comfortable environment and plenty of water. Be sure your caregiver is visiting your pet regularly and confirm that air conditioning is kept at levels that are comfortable for you. Never confine your pet to a room that has a tendency to get warm, such as a sunroom.

For cats, check that window screens are secure so there is no danger of them falling out.

Outdoor time

Both dogs and cats may be spending more time outdoors during the summer. If you are walking your dog, be aware of hot pavement that can burn his paws. If you will be hiking, bring water for yourself and your dog.

If your cat likes to roam outside, check that his collar is equipped with recent tags and that the quick release is working properly in case he gets caught. Cats love to climb and this safety feature can prevent injury or death.

Cookouts and holiday festivities

Gatherings may be smaller and holiday activities scaled back this summer, but you still will want to check ahead on your host’s plans to be sure your pets are kept safe from harmful foods, debris, injuries, and burns. If you are the host, instruct your guests not to feed your pets and provide plenty of trash receptacles that are pet-proof. If you are attending a friend’s gathering, you may want to consider leaving your dog home if there is a cause for concern.

Most July Fourth fireworks displays have been canceled this year due to the pandemic, but rest assured there will be some home displays to replace them. While cats seem generally unscathed by the chaos of fireworks, many dogs have significant anxiety due to the noise. You know your pet best, so keep a close eye for signs of anxiety, including panting, whining and destructive behavior. Be sure your dog has access to a place where he feels safe when he is anxious, such as under a bed or a corner in the basement. If your dog is especially bothered, try to find a place where he won’t be able to hear the fireworks. You might also consider a Thundershirt, which has been shown to comfort dogs by applying gentle pressure over their bodies.

Contact the veterinarians at Lake Cable Animal Hospital for guidance and tips on how to keep your pets safe and happy this summer.