How to Keep Your Horse (or Pets) Cool in the Summer

Red border collie dog and horse are friends at sunset in summer

Long summer days are perfect for family fun and made even better if the day is shared with family pets or on horseback. Keep the summer fun healthy for everyone, including your horse, pony, and family pets by recognizing that heat and sun can be dangerous for your animals.

Blazing sun, high humidity, confined spaces, over-exertion and dehydration are all potential risks to horses, ponies and pets in the summer months. Keep you and your pets cool with awareness, timing and a big dose of precaution.

Take advantage of the long days, and plan strenuous activities with your horses and pets in the cool early morning or in the long shadows of the early evening. “Limit strenuous riding to late evening or early morning when the temperature is lower,” recommends the  Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “ Use less tack in the hot summer by minimizing saddle pads and leg boots.”


The same rule applies when you’re considering a jog with your dog. “On very hot days, limit exercise to early morning or evening hours,” says The Humane Society of the United States, “and be especially careful with pets with white-colored ears, who are more susceptible to skin cancer, and short-nosed pets, who typically have difficulty breathing.” When the temperature goes up, take down the intensity and duration of exercise with your pet, according to the Humane Society. “Asphalt gets very hot and can burn your pet’s paws, so walk your dog on the grass if possible,” says the Humane Society, and “always carry water with you to keep your dog from dehydrating.”

In horses, dehydration, respiratory distress, and colic – even fatal heatstroke or heat exhaustion – can all be caused by the sun and humidity of summer, according to the Dr. Fosters and Smith Veterinary Supply website. Keep your horse safe from the perils of summer with some common sense safe guards.iStock_000085393831_Medium

According to Doctors Fosters and Smith website, horses can drink more more than 25 gallons of water a day when the temperature is above 70 degrees.  Offer free, cool, clean water in a suitable bucket throughout the day; keep water troughs clean and filled.  Turn horses out to pasture in the early morning and make sure there’s shade– natural or man made. When horses are working in heat and humidity and sweating excessively, offer electrolyte supplements to avoid muscle cramps, fatigue and colic.

Once your horse is back in the barn or other shelter, turn on the stable fans and open doors and windows to increase ventilation. Use misting fans or sponge cold water over your horse. Quality fodder is especially important in summer months. Feed hay provides the energy horses need to help control  body temperature and support the natural the cooling process.

Woman washing her dog, Golden Labrador Retriever, outdoors on hot summer day

Cool off hot dogs by directing them into shade or bringing them indoors on hot days.  Remember, for your canine friends, a fan alone may not do the trick, according to the Humane Society.  Unlike people, dogs sweat primary through their feet, the Humane Society says, so fans alone are not effective.

Do not keep horses confined in steamy hot trailers for extended times and never leave dogs in locked cars – even with the windows cracked, says the Humane Society.

When the family pets are outside, make sure there is plenty of protection from direct sunlight.  The Humane Society reminds pet owners that dog houses and other similar shelters are not protection from the heat – pets need lots of air circulation so an open-sided shelter is best.

Also, keep pet water bowls full and clean, adding ice whenever possible, the Humane Society recommends.

Barry Kellogg, VMD, of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, reminds pet owners that high humidity makes it difficult for animals to cool themselves.  If your pet isn’t stressed out by bath time, use a kiddie pool, sprinkler or hose to offer a quick cool off on the hottest of days.


Before the heat of summer sets in groom your horse or pets for the dogs days of summer. Trim your pet’s coat short for the summer to help keep them cool.  Also groom your horse’s coat, says Doctors Fosters and Smith website, and clip the mane and tail.

For more great tips on taking care of your horses or pets, check back for more blog posts! In the market for a new horse trailer? Don’t forget to browse our extensive online inventory or stop by our lot!