Knowing how to keep your pets cool isn’t always as easy as it seems. Instead, some common mistakes may be impacting your pet’s health in hot weather at home. If you’re living with pets, it’s only natural that you want to do what you can to help them feel comfortable. However, sometimes that can involve rewriting your routine during periods of particular heat. Here’s what the veterinary experts want you to know about keeping pets safe.

5 mistakes to avoid when caring for a pet in summer – according to vets 

How can you guarantee a pet-friendly home during the hottest months of the year? Veterinary experts recommend avoiding these common mistakes. 

1. Leaving your pets alone by the pool

Charleston-based veterinarian Dr. Shannon Barrett (opens in new tab) warns against leaving your pets alone by the pool at any time. And while it is important to keep this pool idea in mind throughout the year, it is even more essential when your pet may seek relief from the hot weather in the cooler water.  ‘Even though swimming is a great exercise for our furry friends, leaving them by the pool unattended can be very dangerous,’ she says. ‘Not all of them know how to get out of the pool if they get too tired from swimming, so please ensure they are supervised at all times.’

2. Keeping pets outside while gardening

‘Pets don’t sweat effectively to cool off as we do – they pant instead. Therefore it’s hard for them to control their body temperature. You can tell when you’re becoming overheated. Unfortunately, our canine friends are not as good at this,’ Dr. Shannon says. Therefore, if you want to sit out in the backyard during the hot weather, it is better to invite your pet back inside.  ‘[Pets] are very susceptible to heat stroke, and the signs can be very subtle. They may not appear for hours after being outside. Therefore avoid the hottest parts of the day, which depending on your location, can be from 10 AM to 3 PM,’ she explains. 

3. Leaving pets inside without air conditioning

Alongside leaving pets outside, Dr. Shannon warns that leaving your pets inside without suitable precautions is equally as dangerous.  ‘We all want to be energy conscious but realize your home can increase in temperature very quickly, and then your pets suffer the consequences,’ the vet says. ‘Ensure it is set at an appropriate temperature for your pets while you’re away. If it is too hot for you, it is too hot for them.’

4. Keeping your pet’s food outside

While it is tempting to leave your pet’s food outside for easy access, veterinarian Paola Cuevas Moreno from (opens in new tab) warns that hotter climates create a ‘breeding ground of bacteria’ that is harmful to your dog or cat.  ‘Bacteria tend to thrive in warm conditions, increasing the chances of pollution,’ the vet says. ‘Remove anything your pet does not eat within 30 minutes and make sure you wash their food plates after every meal, just like you would wash yours,’ she adds. 

5. Putting your pet near a window with direct sunlight 

Observing the sunlight through a window may be a joy for us, but it is less healthy for your pets, Dr. David Littlejohn, the Lead Veterinarian at Pawscessories (opens in new tab), warns. ‘You’ll want to avoid keeping your pet in a room with a window that gets a lot of direct sunlight. If they’re unable to leave that room, it can get considerably warm for them to the point of extreme discomfort,’ the vet says.  Whether you’re upgrading your AC system or simply keeping an eye over your pet around the swimming pool – avoiding these mistakes may lead to a happier, healthier pet this summer. 

How do I protect my pet in hot weather or a heatwave?

What temperature is too hot for pets?

Pets can suffer from heatstroke when the temperature outside (or in) reaches 80℉ or humidity of 90 per cent. Know that in a sunroom, for example, this temperature can be reached very quickly, and that a pet can begin to suffer quickly, too.