Woof Wednesday: Hot Dogs & Summer Safety

I live in N. Texas where 108 degree weather has everyone not under the collar. Just imagine how pets feel with a fur coat. Cats and dogs risk sunburn, pad burns and life-threatening heatstroke without proper precautions. These tips can help you prevent problems, or even save your pet’s life with first aid advice–more info in the first aid book, of course.


Dogs don’t get pad burns very often because they flinch away from heat. But cats love heat and often lounge on surfaces up to 126 degrees. They won’t feel themselves getting burned. Both dogs and cats can suffer pad burns from walking on hot pavement, especially when not offered the option for cooler pathways.

Do the barefoot test. If pavement feels too hot for you, it’s also a problem for pets. Prevent pad burns by making shaded and/or grassy pathways an option. For pad burns, apply an aloe vera ointment three to five times a day to help shorten healing time. It’s safe for pets to lick off in small amounts, too.


Fur protects most dogs and cats from sunburn, but thinly furred ear tips, bridge of the nose, and the tummy can get burned. White pets are at highest risk. Dogs who sleep on their back and sun-worshiping cats seem affected most often.

Sunburn isn’t a medical emergency, but it can be painful. The skin turns red, can blister, become crusty, and peel.

Cold water spray from a plant mister every half hour or so works great to soothe sunburned dogs, but cats hate getting sprayed. Witch hazel helps cool inflamed skin by evaporation and doesn’t sting like alcohol. Dab some on affected areas with a cotton ball three or four times a day to soothe the burn.

Sunburn dries out the skin. Aloe vera creams not only moisturize but also help heal burns faster. These products often contain vitamin E that speeds healing and soothes burns. Learn more about dog sunburn prevention and care here.


Pets don’t sweat. To cool off, dogs pant so the moisture evaporates off the tongue. Cats lick fur and evaporation keeps body temperatures at a safe level. But for grooming or panting to work, the outside air must be a lower temperature than the pet’s normal body temperature (101-102.5 degrees). When self-cooling fails, heatstroke kills in less than 15 minutes.

Cars become deathtraps. When the temperature reaches 78 degrees, cars sitting in the shade reach 90 degrees in no time. But if parked in the sun on a 78-degree day, car temp soars to 168 degrees within minutes. That cooks the brain, leaving irreversible damage.

Signs of heatstroke include rapid panting, a bright red tongue and gums, sticky saliva, and body temperatures of 104-106 degrees. Severe cases of heatstroke may prompt body temperatures of 110 degrees or higher.

Unless you live only five minutes away, give first aid before heading to the emergency room. To save your pet’s life, reduce body temperature to 104 degrees and then get follow-up medical care.

Prevent heat stroke by providing shade for outside pets, along with plenty of cool water. Specialized attachments turn outside faucets into 24/7 pet drinking fountains so you won’t have to worry about spilled bowls. Misting fans and aerosols lower the temperature and keep pet fur damp to cool fur through evaporation. Misters can be placed on the porch, deck or near your dog’s pen.

Invest in cooling bandanas and collars, body wraps, and pet mats from pet products outlets. Or just provide a child’s wading pool, fill it daily with cool water and let the water-puppies splash to their heart’s content.

Prevent problems altogether by keeping cats and dogs in air-conditioned spaces when the temperatures become dangerous. The most dangerous times of day for sunburn are 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. so schedule cooler times for outdoor excursions.

How to you protect your hot dogs? Have your pets ever suffered from sunburn–or overheated in hot weather? What kinds of kewl cooling devices to you use? Please share!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with excerpts from the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND, and pet book give-aways!


Woof Wednesday: Hot Dogs & Summer Safety — 6 Comments

    • Yes, it’s a real problem here in Texas. It was 91 degrees yesterday and Magic REALLY wanted to go for a car ride–so I took him with me for drive-thru errands but then dropped him off home so I could leave the car.

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  3. Such valuable information, Amy—thanks! We have an aloe plant, and I never thought to use aloe on my dog’s skin after sun damage. My hope is to prevent it, but it’s nice to know that there are healing options.

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