Sunscreen? Check.
Pool float? Check.
Ice-cold cooler? Check!

You have what you need to beat the heat this summer, but what about your pet? The Burlington Veterinary Center team wants to ensure your dog or cat stays cool and comfortable this summer. We recommend eight must-have summer items for pets.

#1: Water dish or fountain for pets

Pets can rapidly become dehydrated during hot weather, because they pant to keep themselves cool, which is not always sufficient, and they must have access to fresh water at all times. The right bowl or fountain can encourage them to drink and stay hydrated. Some features to consider include:

  • Size — Larger bowls hold more volume, which is advantageous if you tend to forget about refilling.  
  • Material — Metal bowls quickly get hot and glass bowls left in the sun can spark a fire. Ceramic bowls are the best warm weather option.
  • Location — Provide several water stations inside and outdoors to ensure your pet has continuous access.
  • StyleCats prefer a large shallow bowl to prevent whisker fatigue, while brachycephalic and arthritic pets appreciate an elevated bowl. Fountains are ideal for pets who prefer moving water.

Refresh your pet’s water at least once per day and check outdoor bowls more often to ensure they are in the shade and the water hasn’t evaporated.

#2: Safe zone or quiet space for pets

Summer is a busy season for many families, but all the excitement and noise can be disruptive or scary for pets. Provide your pet with a safe and quiet escape from the chaos, such as a small room or a covered crate in a low traffic area of your home. If your pet has a preferred hiding space (e.g., a closet, basement, bathroom), modifying that area can help them feel at ease.

Also, confine your nervous pet to reduce stress during unsettling times, such as fireworks, summer block parties, and thunderstorms, and to keep them safe by preventing accidental escape.

Add cozy bedding and fun distractions, such as a food-filled toy or treat mat, and play white noise or calming music to ensure your pet feels comfortable and safe.

#3: Seat belt, crate, or carrier for secure pet travel

Did someone say “Road trip?” If your pet will be your summer copilot, ensure they ride in style and safety with a seat belt, crate, or carrier.

Each year, unrestrained pets are involved in hundreds of thousands of U.S. vehicle accidents—and often cause the accident—because loose pets can distract the driver, who takes their eyes off the road. During an accident, unrestrained pets can also become dangerous  projectiles and can injure passengers or be ejected from the vehicle, resulting in serious injury, escape, or death.

Whether you’re traveling across the country or across town, always ensure your pet rides securely in a pet seat belt, car seat, crate, or carrier.

#4: Life jackets for pets  

Life jackets give water-loving pets confidence while swimming and protect them from drowning. All pets, including strong swimmers and those who merely wade at the water’s edge, should wear a well-fitted life jacket in case of falls, strong currents, and fatigue. 

Look for a brightly colored life jacket that will be easily visible in the water and that has a top handle so you can assist your dog when they leave the water. Never allow your pet to play unsupervised in or around water.

#5: Food puzzles and enrichment toys for pets

When excessive heat and summer storms force you to stay indoors, your pet will need a safe and stimulating outlet for their pent-up energy.

Puzzles, enrichment activities, and DIY enrichment toys engage your pet’s mind, boost their critical thinking, and provide a satisfying and rewarding challenge. If your pet is new to puzzles and interactive toys, start at the beginner level to prevent frustration or destructive behavior. Be prepared to assist your pet if they seem confused—we promise, it’s not cheating!

#6: Healthy frozen treats for pets

If your pet loves ice cubes or tasty snacks, frozen treats will enrich your pet’s day and provide healthy hydration.

Frozen treats can be single-ingredient (e.g., seedless watermelon, bananas, strawberries, carrots), gourmet (e.g., plain low-fat yogurt mixed with xylitol-free peanut butter and blueberries), or interactive (e.g., a pet’s small toy frozen in an ice block). 

#7: Cooling coat, vest, or bandana for pets

Although we recommend limiting your pet’s outdoor time during warm weather, cooling apparel such as coats, vests, and bandanas can provide additional relief during early morning or late night strolls through the park.

However, be aware that these reusable items, which can be soaked in cold water or frozen for long-lasting effect, are accessories only. They are not a replacement for monitoring your pet and will not prevent heatstroke.

#8: Elevated cot or cabana bed for pets

Pets seek cool surfaces to rest during the summer months but, unfortunately, such surfaces offer no support for their joints and muscles. Provide your pet with an elevated mesh cot and shade cabana, which will better cool them by increasing the air flow and preventing the joint pain and pressure calluses that result from prolonged contact with hard floors. 

Despite its carefree illusion, the summer season comes with risks and challenges for your pet. If you have additional questions about preparing your pet for the hot weather, or if you need to discuss your pet’s noise or travel anxiety, contact the Burlington Veterinary Center team to schedule an appointment.