The Dog Days of Summer: A Q&A with the spcaLA on Keeping Pets Safe in the Heat

A few days ago, I received an email from the spcaLA about how summer can be a really dangerous time for animals, and it got me thinking about all my friends, clients and family members with pets who may be vulnerable to this super hot L.A. weather. I contacted the spcaLA (President Madeline Bernstein is a client and incredible advocate for animals in need) and happily, the non-profit organization answered all my questions about keeping pets safe this summer season. 

If you’re outside with your pet, what are some tell-tale signs that it’s too hot for them?

If a pet is overcome by heat (detected by excessive panting, is heavily salivating, and/or immobile) immerse the pet slowly in cool water to lower body temperature, then contact a veterinarian. Never immerse a pet in ice cold water, it may cause shock. NEVER leave your pet in a parked car, not even for five minutes. It could cost your pet their life. The temperature in a parked car can soar to 160 degrees Fahrenheit within minutes, even with the windows left slightly open.

Are there any snacks you can recommend (e.g. freezing applesauce or yogurt in ice cube trays, pet “ice cream”) that are particularly good for hot summer days? 

Make a delicious frozen treat, like Frosty Paws, for your dog to enjoy! Mix together 1 quart plain or vanilla yogurt, 1 banana or 1 large jar banana baby food, 2 tbsp. peanut butter and 2 tbsp. honey. Pour the mixture into cups, then place the cups on cookie sheets and freeze. Let the cookies thaw about 10 minutes before removing from the cups. 

DO NOT USE LIGHT PEANUT BUTTER or anything with Xylitol (it’s highly toxic to dogs) or other artificial sweeteners. You can also freeze stock into ice cubes for your pet to lick or freeze a treat in each ice cube. One final idea: Fill a Kong with kibble and top with broth and freeze.

Let’s say you’re on a walk with your pet and the pavement was OK during your “hand check” but 10 minutes later, it’s just too hot! What should a pet owner do? 

On hot summer days, it is best to exercise your dog in the early morning or evening when temperatures are coolest. Dog pads burn easily, so avoid hot surfaces such as asphalt on hot days.

How can you make your home more pet-safe in the summertime? 

It’s best to keep pets inside where it is cool. They should have plenty of clean, cool drinking water at all times. If your pets must stay outside instead of the cool indoors, be sure they have adequate shade and ventilation. Some pets need sunscreen or a “summer cut,” (not shaved, pets can sunburn). A fun thing to do is fill a kiddie pool with water and let your dog splash around. Toss a few of the ice cube treats in the water and let them play.

What are some fun summer-safe activities you recommend with your pets if you can’t go outside?

If it’s too hot, stay inside and take the opportunity to practice short bursts of training commands, like sit and down. Hide treats for your pets to search for or try a puzzle treat feeder.  

Can you provide some resources for readers who would like to give back to spcaLA?

Help spcaLA by adopting, donating, or volunteering. Looking for a pet? Visit spcaLA pet adoption centers or and meet your friend for Life. 

All shelters, including spcaLA, are filled with animals looking for homes, so please, adopt – do not shop! When you visit, keep an open mind, and find a pet that fits your lifestyle and expectations. If now is not a good time to adopt, consider fostering a pet or volunteering. Visit for more.

Donations, both funds and in-kind are always needed. To make a donation visit 

If you’d like to drop-off or ship needed items, like pet food, litter, or toys, please visit

P.S. Thank you to Madeline and the spcaLA team for answering these questions with incredible insights! Interested in making a tax-deductible donation to the spcaLA to help provide lifesaving care to abused or abandoned animals? Click here!