Dogs Playing (credit: Randy Yagi)

We love our pets. Keeping them happy and cool during the dog days of summer means more than just keeping them out of a hot locked car while you run into the grocery store. The heat can be dangerous and can lead to health problems or even death. Short of such dire consequences, you want to keep your pet happy when the weather gets too hot. Local expert Ricci Bilotta is here to tell us how to do exactly that.

Ricci Bilotta
CocoBear Boutique and Pet Care
197 E. 7th St.
St Paul, MN 55101
(651) 222-6367

Bilotta has always loved animals and knew from an early age that it was in her future to work with them. She got a job grooming dogs to make money during college and loved it so much that she ended up leaving school to be a groomer. Now with 20 years of experience she knows how to make pets happy. She has also worked in pet rescue since 1996, and for the last several years has focused on “bully breeds.” She classifies this breed as misunderstood dogs like pit bulls that just need extra attention. Now working for CocoBear, Lowertown’s premier pet boutique, she gets to work with dogs of all types from the neighborhood and beyond. Here she shares a few ideas on keeping pets cool and happy when the weather gets hot this summer.

Amber George, who has worked at CocoBear since it’s opening in 2011, also contributed to this article.

Dogs Playing in Back Yard

Regular Grooming Is Key

Most dogs shed constantly and that hair builds up in their coat. The hair needs to come out. This will help keep the dog cool. It doesn’t necessarily mean keeping the coat short but groomed. Your dog will be much more comfortable and happier throughout the summer.

If You’re Hot, They’re Hot

Anytime there are extreme weather warnings, especially those that target old or young people, keep in mind that your pet gets just as hot as you do. Make sure there is plenty of shade and fresh and cool water nearby for your pets. Don’t keep them outside for too long during these times, or at least not without shade. A kiddie pool filled with water can keep them cool during these times as well. If you’re hiking with your dog, make sure to give them regular breaks and plenty of water.

Keep Frozen Treats Around

(credit: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

(credit: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

For dogs there are plenty of cold treats you can buy that they are sure to love and will keep them cool. Even ice cubes are a good option. Another trick is filling a plastic container with water, freezing it, and giving that to your dog to play with.

Related: Best Pet Groomers In Minnesota

Pets Can Sunburn

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Short haired dogs and light colored dogs can get sunburned. It is important to keep them out of excessive sunlight. Sunblock for dogs does exist and can help your dogs keep from getting sunburned. In general, treat sunburnt with dogs the way you would for a child.

Look For Signs Of Overheating

Dogs sweat through their paws and pant using their tongues to keep cool. If you see your dog panting excessively or if the inside of the ears or tongue are getting red, these are signs of overheating. As they sweat through their paws, keep them off hot pavement. Their paws will burn. You can often tell if a dog is getting too hot by the way they’re acting, so on really hot days keep an eye on them.

Related: Best Spots To Find Winter Gear For Pets In Minnesota

Adrian Schramm is a resident Saint Paul writer with a passion for all things local. Through his work with Saint Paul Almanac and Minneapolis Examiner at, as well as in the kitchens of bars and restaurants around town, he has discovered what truly makes the Twin Cities tick.