Pets tend to get hot in the summer; sometimes they overheat faster than us. For example, dogs and cats are prone to heatstroke at lower temperatures than most human adults. If you’re hot, your pets are probably hot, too.

No matter what species your pet is, here are 6 ways to keep them cool in the hot summer sun.

1. Get products designed to keep your pets cool

You’ve probably seen (or own) a heating pad made for pets. There are also products designed to cool them down both indoors and out. You may not realize it, but pets can get heatstroke inside the house if it’s too hot and there isn’t adequate ventilation. Chill pads are a great idea for dogs and cats; all you need to do is freeze the insert and stick it in the cover. 

If you have reptiles like snakes or bearded dragons, make sure you have a working thermometer from a reputable brand. It’s easiest to get a thermometer online from a pet supply store like Homes Alive Pets since most brick-and-mortar pet stores have been closing their doors for good. Reptiles can overheat; don’t let the sun coming through the window increase the temperature of their basking area.

If you have small pets like mice, sugar gliders, rabbits, chinchillas, or rats, place frozen water bottles around their cages and play areas to give them a cool space to rest. If you let your small pets free roam, make sure to place frozen water bottles in the areas where they spend the most time. Frozen water bottles also work well when you’re traveling with your pets.

2. Limit time outside to 1-hour chunks

In extreme heat, limit the amount of time your pet spends outside to 1-hour chunks, especially for dogs. If that’s not possible because you have to leave for work, keep your dog inside when the forecast is high heat. 

No matter how well you know your dog, some dogs will stay outside in the heat longer than they should. By the time they come inside, they can already be suffering the first signs of heatstroke.

3. Create shade for water dishes

If your pets like to spend time outside, they won’t let the heat stop them. However, when they become overheated they’ll make a run for their water bowl. Make sure all outdoor water dishes are located in a cool area that doesn’t get much sun. If a shaded space doesn’t exist naturally on your property, build a little shelter for their water dish. You can even put a water dish in a little dog house facing away from the sun. 

If you can’t keep your pet’s water dish cool even while it’s in the shade, they probably shouldn’t be outside for very long. When water gets hot in the shade, that means it’s exceptionally hot outside. 

4. Run the air conditioner while you’re away

Keep your air conditioner running while you’re out of the house, whether you’re at work all day or just going to the grocery store. It doesn’t take long for a space to heat up when there isn’t a cool breeze or air flow. 

Presuming you close your doors and windows before leaving the house, that means the inside of your house could get hotter than the outside much like the temperature inside of a car can exceed the outside temperature.

5. Don’t take your dog to run errands in moderate or high heat

Hundreds of dogs die each year because their owners left them in a hot car. The biggest problem with leaving a dog in a hot car is the fact that the temperature inside of the car will often climb far above the outside temperature. When it’s 80 degrees outside, the inside of a car parked in direct sunlight can reach 130-172 degrees

Leave your dog (or cat) at home if you can’t leave your car windows rolled down.

6. Bring ice cold water wherever you go with your pets

Wherever you go, make sure you have ice cold water on hand. Make it a habit to grab a frozen water bottle from the freezer when you leave the house. You might know you’ll have water at your destination, but what if your car breaks down and you get stuck waiting for a tow truck without air conditioning? You’ll be thankful for that frozen water bottle.

Your pets are family members

Keep your pets cool just like you would any other family member. They can’t speak to tell you when they’re hot, so you have to keep an eye out for them.