As pet professionals, it’s important to educate clients on the need to be mindful of pet care during the warmer months. This is particularly important when it comes to senior pet safety. Indeed, old dogs who have difficulty getting around may also have trouble moving out of the sun.

Furthermore, pets with respiratory conditions and short or stub noses face a greater risk of heatstroke. So, not only do pet owners need to be aware of how hot weather can affect the health of their pets, but they also need to know the steps they can take to avoid problems.

Keeping senior pets safe in summer

Hot, humid weather can be potentially dangerous for all pets. For example, we all know that leaving a pet in a hot car be fatal (not to mention illegal).

However, when it comes to senior pet safety, high temperatures pose a more serious risk to their health. Furthermore, if you have an old dog that’s also overweight or short-nosed, the risk increases.

Two of the most common health issues, which are typically more common in summer, include heatstroke and dehydration.

Heatstroke symptoms

  • High temperature (<40 degrees)
  • Excessive panting
  • Excess saliva
  • Showing signs of distress
  • Blue-purple or bright red gums caused by lack of oxygen to the tissue

Dehydration symptoms

  • Loss of skin elasticity
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting with or without diarrhea
  • Reduced energy levels and lethargy
  • Panting
  • Sunken, dry-looking eyes
  • Dry nose
  • Dry, sticky gums
  • Thick saliva

Simple tips for pet owners

There are several simple actions pet owners can take to help keep their pets safe during summer. While these tips may seem obvious, it’s important not to assume pet owners know how important it is to take extra steps to ensure their pet’s safety during the summer months. Particularly for clients with older dogs, discussing senior pet safety is paramount.

Both pets and pet owners can enjoy the summer, providing they keep these tips in mind.

  • NEVER leave an animal in a car unattended
  • Ensure pets have constant access to shade
  • Make certain pets have access to clean, fresh water (and make sure they have enough!)
  • If a dog is panting excessively, you can help cool them down slowly by placing damp towels on them or gently spraying them with cool water
  • Avoid walking dogs during the heat of the day and be mindful that hot pavement or sand can burn their paws
  • Try using frozen treats to help keep dogs cool in summer. Such as ice cubes made from frozen peanut butter or broth (that doesn’t contain onions or garlic, of course!). Check out the AKC’s guide on frozen treats for dogs
  • Be aware of the symptoms of heatstroke and dehydration

To assist and support pet owners to keep their pets safe during summer, why not create a simple leaflet to highlight the simple steps they can take.

Not just dogs to keep watch for

When talking to clients about senior pet safety in summer, it’s not just dog owners you need to chat to. Cats can suffer from heatstroke and dehydration too.

Similar to dogs, inadequate shade, excessive physical activity, high temperatures, and not enough water are the key causes of heatstroke in cats.

However, cats are more likely to get trapped and if the space they are confined to is hot and humid, such as a laundry or worse a washing machine (it happens!), heatstroke is more likely.

It’s essential to make cat owners aware of this and encourage them to keep a close eye on their fur friends when the temperatures are high. If their cat does have a tendency to hang out in the laundry or a sunny room of the house, suggest they leave a window ajar or put a fan in the room to keep it ventilated.

Certainly, having a conversation with clients about the risks summertime poses to pets’ health can help avoid a potentially tragic accident. Particularly when it comes to promoting senior pet safety, it pays to be vigilant and know when to take action or offer up advice.

Information sources:

  • Summer pet safety. Vet West. Accessed online via
  • Reisan, J. Warning signs of dehydration in dogs. Jul 2020. American Kennel Club. Accessed online via
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Liz has a passion for all things cat and dog, and was one of the first in Australia to bring Pet Insurance to the market. She has headed up Petsecure for the past 12 years, and is committed to promoting and supporting the amazing work done by rescue groups around Australia, and those who work to promote a better life for all animals.

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