Spring is here and summer is almost upon us. If you live in India, then you have felt the heat rise steadily throughout the days. And we know it is just going to get hotter. You know how you are going to stay cool this summer, but how will your pet?

Here are some tips on how to help your pet beat the heat this summer and stay comfortable.

1. Trim your dog’s coat

Pets in summer find it hard to cope with the heat, especially dogs with long or thick coats. This is because their fur, which is meant to provide insulation from the cold, traps the heat and makes the summer even more difficult to get through. Trimming your dog’s coat can help offer them some release and keep them cooler this summer. Check with your vet on what they recommend – you do not want to cut your dog’s coat so short that their skin is exposed to the sun and is therefore damaged.

2. Use sunscreen

The sun can damage a dog’s skin as much as it can damage ours, so it is very important to make your pet wear sunscreen during the summer. Dogs with short or thin coats and those with white fur will need the sunscreen more than other dog breeds. Finding the right kind of pet sunscreen is important – there are different kinds of cat sunscreen and dog sunscreen. Always check with your vet about what brand they recommend, as they will be able to tailor-fit the recommendation to your dog.

It is especially important to remember that any sunscreen for your cat or dog should not contain zinc oxide. If a canine or cat ingests zinc oxide, it can lead to a condition with low red blood cell count (haemolytic anaemia). Also try and pick sunscreens that are fragrance free and be mindful of any skin allergies your pet may have.

3. Never leave your dog in the car

It is not okay to leave your dog in the car. Temperatures inside cars can rise within a matter of minutes and if you have locked your dog in the car, there is no way for them to escape the heat. Cracking open a window open changes very little – while it might provide some ventilation, it certainly does not reduce the temperature in the car. Dogs are susceptible to heat stroke and some dog breeds may suffer effects sooner than other breeds. This is a serious issue: many dogs die of car-related heat stroke. It is important to take care of your pets in summer.

4. Take your dog for walks during cooler times of the day

Because the afternoons can get mercilessly hot during the summer, it is important to plan your dog’s walks during cooler times of the day. Take them out for walks during the early morning or in the evenings, when the sun has disappeared and there is a breeze that can offer some respite.

For urban dogs that usually take their walks on the streets, this is also a good way to take care of their paws. Pavements and streets can get very hot during the summer, especially during the afternoons, and this can burn your dog’s paws. Choosing the morning or evenings as a time to walk is a great way to take care of your pets in summer.

5. Plan activities for your dog to cool off

When planning how to keep your pet active this summer, plan in activities that will keep them cool and happy. A great option is swimming. It is important to not assume your dog can swim (several dogs have to be taught) but if they can, try and take them to the beach or a small pond, where they can beat the summer sun by soaking themselves to the skin. And it is a great way to keep them fit! Several cities now have doggie pools for your beloved pet.

Of course, not everyone may live close to a beach or lake or have access to a doggie pool. In that case, try creating a small pool of your own in your compound for your pets in summer. Inflatable kiddie pools are perfect for your dog to splash around in and escape the heat. And your dog does not have to know how to swim!

If all else fails, a garden hose or sprinklers are all you need for your pet to cool down and have some fun.

6. Keep your pet hydrated

The most important thing to remember this summer is to keep your pet hydrated. Your dog or cat needs all the water they can get to get them through the summer months. Remember to always keep their bowl full of clean water – check it periodically to make sure the water supply is not running low and fill it several times a day.

If you own an outdoor cat – which is a cat that likes to wander outside for a few days before returning indoors – make sure you keep a water bowl outside your house for them (in addition to one inside the house). It is crucial to hydrate pets in summer, and this will ensure they can drink water whether or not they choose to come indoors.

Also make sure you curate a liquid-heavy diet for your pet during the summer. This is a great way to ensure they keep their water levels up.

And finally, be kind to animals this summer. If you can, set up a bird feeder or a bird water bowl outside your window. Leave bowls of water for stray dogs. We are all battling the heat these coming months – make others’ lives a little easier.