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Yes, your pets need sunscreen. How to keep furry friends safe in summer heat

Posted by Lindsay Lowe, for the Today Show on

With temperatures soaring around the country, these summer safety tips will keep your pet comfortable and healthy on hot days.

Lindsay Lowe

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When you slather on the sunscreen before a day out in the heat, don’t forget to do the same for your pet!

Just like humans, dogs and cats can get sunburns, especially animals with thin or white fur. So, it’s important to protect their skin from the sun’s harmful rays by keeping them in the shade when possible and, yes, by applying pet sunscreen.

With scorching temperatures breaking records around the country, Marc Peralta, chief program officer of the Best Friends Animal Society, stopped by the 3rd Hour of TODAY to share some tips for keeping your furry friends safe in the summer heat.

Know the signs of overheating

Learn to recognize the signs of dangerous overheating in dogs and cats, which include:

Heavy panting (both dogs and cats)

Dry, bright red gums

Thick drool

Vomiting

Diarrhea

Wobbly legs

To avoid overheating, keep pets indoors when it’s extremely hot outside and do not exercise your pets in temperatures above the 80s. When pets are outside in the heat, always provide them with a shaded area.

Apply sunscreen

Cats and dogs face similar risks from the sun as we do, so it’s important to protect them with sunscreen on hot days. There are sunscreens specially designed for cats and dogs.

While all cats and dogs are susceptible to sunburn, animals with thin hair or white hair are especially vulnerable because their skin may be more exposed. Check with a veterinarian about the best sunblock for your pet.

How to navigate your summer vacation plans with pets

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Don't shave your pets

Many people may be tempted to shave their dogs in the summer, thinking it will keep them cooler, but this is not recommended.

Pets’ coats actually keep them cool, and their fur protects them from harmful UV rays.

Stay hydrated

Pets can become dehydrated quickly, so provide pets plenty of water when it’s hot or humid. Dogs may not like drinking warmer water so if their bowl is outside, try to keep it in a shaded area.

Also, be sure to change their water frequently so it remains fresh and clean.

Protect paws

Hot sidewalks and sandy beaches can harm pets’ sensitive paws.

To test whether a surface is too warm for your furry friend’s paws, hold your hand to the pavement or sand for 10 seconds. If it’s uncomfortable to keep your hand there, it’s too hot for your dog or cat.

To help keep paws cool, apply water to them or fill a kiddie pool with shallow water that your pet can walk through during the day.

You can also try pet booties, though some pets may not like them. Cooling mats can also protect animals from warm surfaces.

Sit. Stay. Forever. Organic Sunscreen for Dogs and Cats

Epi-Pet K-9 Care Sunscreen

$17.76 $17.95

Warren London Dog Sunscreen Spray

$13.99 $13.99

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