Many pets love outdoor time, but be sure to follow these tips to keep your pets safe in the Florida heat.

From overheating in the scorching sun to dehydration, the spring and summer months can be harmful to your pets if you aren’t aware and don’t prepare for the soaring temperatures.

Here are a few do’s and don’ts from Hillsborough County’s Animal Control Division of Code Enforcement to help keep you and your fuzzy companions safe throughout the summer.


  • Always keep water on hand wherever your pet is to avoid dehydration. Consider ice cubes or pet-friendly frozen treats. Watermelon and cucumber are also tasty summer treats for hydration.
  • Walk your pets in the early morning or late evening to avoid the full force of the sun and midday heat.
  • Water play with sprinklers, hoses and kiddie pools are fun ways to cool off if your pet enjoys the water.
  • Know the symptoms of heat stroke: excessive panting and drooling, weakness, disorientation and/or seizure.
  • Groom your dogs and cats to keep their coats light to allow for air circulation that will help regulate their body temperature. However, shaving a double-coated dog, such as golden retrievers or border collies, can be harmful.
  • Use pet-safe sunscreen on hairless and short-haired pets and pets with white coats. This protects their skin from sunburn.
  • Monitor your pets around pools and large bodies of water so they don’t fall in and possibly drown. If you take your pets on a boat, have a pet life vest for each pet to wear.
  • Have a plan for your pets in case of disaster, like a hurricane.


  • Never leave your pet in a car unattended. Dogs and cats don’t sweat like humans, so they easily overheat and can die if left in the car at any time but especially in the hot summer months.
  • Don’t walk your pet on hot pavement, as it can burn their paws; early morning and evening is best.
  • Don’t shave a double-coated dog. Shaving them does not help keep them cool; it does the opposite. If your dog has a double coat or if you’re not sure what type of coat your dog has, consult your veterinarian.
  • Don’t forget your flea, tick and heartworm prevention medication. Fleas, ticks and mosquitoes thrive in hot temperatures, and dogs and cats can get sick from their bites.
  • Never let your pets drink any liquids from the ground. Leaked substances from cars and other sources, like antifreeze, can be extremely toxic.

If you think your pet is suffering from heatstroke:

  • Cool them by submerging them in water or spraying them with a hose. It is very important to cool the animal’s head, but be sure to keep water out of their airways. Put the animal in an air-conditioned vehicle, building or, at minimum, in the shade.
  • Call your veterinarian immediately.
  • To report an animal in danger or heat distress, immediately contact a law enforcement officer and call Code Enforcement’s Animal Control Division at 813-744-5660.

Visit for more information on keeping your pets safe and healthy.

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