Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Reminds Owners to Help Keep Animals Cool and Safe as Temperatures Rise

June 17, 2024

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AUGUSTA, ME-As temperatures rise across the state, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) reminds animal owners of the best ways to keep their pets and livestock cool and safe.

"Maintaining animals' health during rising temperatures hinges on keeping them cool and hydrated," stated Maine State Veterinarian Dr. Stefanie Bolas. "Recognizing the signs of heat stress is crucial, but preventing it is even more vital. Mainers can take five steps to ensure their animals remain cool and safe."

1) Provide unlimited cool, clean, fresh water.
Just like people, animals can quickly get parched in hot temperatures. No matter the species, animals should have access to unlimited cool, clean, fresh water to prevent dehydration. Also, if out in public, bring some hydration options for your animal and avoid using shared/communal water bowls.

2) An animal's ability to tolerate heat varies.
An animal's age, breed, type of coat, and health history can all affect its ability to tolerate the heat. To help them stay comfortable, ensure they can access shade, fans, misters, pools, cooling mats, and air-conditioned spaces. Watch your pet for signs of heat stress, such as increased panting, drooling, or lethargy. If these signs are present, move it to a cooler area immediately. Consider talking to your veterinarian for specific guidance on handling your animals in hot weather.

3) Test surfaces to make sure they won't burn paws.
Surfaces like asphalt, concrete, and sand can heat up in the sun, burning paws or making a walk uncomfortable. To test if a surface is too hot, touch it with the palm of your hand. If it is too hot for you, consider taking a different route, mostly grass, or waiting until the evening when everything has had a chance to cool.

4) Avoid harmful algal blooms (HABs) in bodies of water.
HABs form due to the rapid growth of cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae, naturally found in lakes, rivers, and ponds. To prevent illness in animals, keep them out of areas with scum or discolored water, rinse them off after contact with any lake water, and bring clean, fresh water for them to drink. Call your veterinarian immediately if an animal becomes sick after contact with a suspected HAB. Animal illness due to HABs is reportable to the DACF. To report cases, submit a Reportable Disease Form. In addition, to report a potential algal bloom, send an email to

5) Parked vehicles are not places to park pets.
Even when temperatures feel more moderate, vehicles can heat up quickly, creating dangerous conditions for the animals left inside. Leaving windows cracked open and parking in the shade does little to improve the situation. In these conditions, it is best to leave pets at home when you need to go out and about.

Following these tips can help keep your animals cool and comfortable during any heat wave. If you have concerns about your animals' health now or throughout the summer months, please talk to your veterinarian.