Summer has arrived, which means better weather in many areas, but unbearably hot weather here in Texas. High temperatures and humidity are uncomfortable for most people, but they are downright dangerous for pets, who cannot sweat to cool themselves like we can. Many pet owners find that staying active in the heat is challenging, so the Envision More Veterinary Ophthalmology team created this list of cool summer pet activity suggestions.

#1: Go for a swim with your pet

Nothing cools down or tires out an enthusiastic pet faster than swimming, which is an excellent summer activity, whether in the backyard pool, or a river, lake, or pond. However, not all dogs are natural swimmers, and you should plan to get in the water with them at first if they have never been swimming. Never force a dog to get in the water if they feel anxious or afraid, and instead try a backyard baby pool or sprinkler. If you are visiting a large body of water, ensure your pet wears a life jacket and has a good recall command so they do not swim too far away.

#2: Run or walk with your pet during the early morning or late evening

You can still take your daily walk or run during the summer months, but you may have to shift your timing to stay cool. The early morning immediately before or shortly after the sun rises is the coolest time of day, but the late evening is also a good choice. Avoid outdoor exercise during the late morning and early to mid-afternoon, which are the hottest times of the day.

#3: Create a shady backyard oasis for your pet

Creating more shade can keep your backyard several degrees cooler and allow you and your pet to play for short periods without overheating. You can plant fast-growing shade trees and use pop-up tents, covered pergolas, or suspension shades to strategically cover the yard.

#4: Brush up on your pet’s obedience skills

When you’ve exhausted your safe outdoor options or cannot get outside during the coolest hours, indoor activities are the next best thing. You may not be able to run or walk and physically tire out your pet, but mental exercise can be equally stimulating and exhausting. Work on your pet’s training to strengthen their existing obedience commands or teach them fun new tricks. For advanced learners and high-energy dogs, look for indoor dog sport clubs or classes to keep them engaged.

#5: Set up an indoor scavenger hunt for your pet

If you’re busy, work from home, or simply need to keep your pet occupied for a few minutes, you can set up an indoor scavenger hunt. Hide treats or coveted toys all around the house, and then release your pet to find them with their nose. A snuffle mat (i.e., a specially designed blanket that hides multiple treats inside) will keep food-motivated pets happy for extended periods and encourage natural digging or foraging in a safe environment.

#6: Take a trip to the pet or feed store 

Do your local pet, garden, feed, or hardware stores allow pets? Take your pet on your trip to the store, whether or not you need to purchase anything. Walk up and down the aisles and let your pet sniff, explore, and meet new people—of course, many will fawn over your adorable furry pal. Some of these stores also have treat stations for all the good boys and good girls.

#7: Invest in new toys or chews

A new toy or long-lasting chew can keep your pet interested and occupied indoors, but the novelty will eventually wear off. To keep things fresh and interesting without breaking the bank, give your pet only a few toys at a time and swap them out with another set every few days. When you bring back the old toys, your pet will think they are new.

Staying out of the sun and in the air-conditioning is key to preventing heatstroke in pets, which is deadly in 20% to 50% of cases. Use our alternative activities list to ensure your pet stays safe and always supervise them while outdoors, so you can quickly contact your primary veterinarian or emergency veterinary hospital if your pet shows heatstroke signs. 

For all your pet’s eye-related health needs this summer, contact the Envision More Veterinary Ophthalmology team to schedule a visit and consultation.