8 ways to celebrate summer with pets

Odd-eyed dog on a red leash stepping out of a blue kiddie pool
Here are some great ideas for having fun in the sun (and inside, too) and how you can help cats and dogs at your local shelter this season.
By Nicole Hamilton

When the days are warm and the crickets sing sweet songs all night long, you know summer is in full swing. It’s the perfect time to get out and have fun with a pet — either your own or a one from a shelter or rescue group. From a road trip with a canine copilot to an easy walk around the neighborhood with your pup (or even a stroller full of kittens), to giving a dog at the shelter a day on the town, summer is most definitely for the dogs — and for cats, too.

Here are eight ways to celebrate summer with pets.

1. Take a road trip.

Ready to hit the road for a little adventure with your dog? Chances are you won’t have to go far to find something unexpected and fun. Canine copilot Tony, for example, loves going basically anywhere with Tessa Carletta Belton, who is fostering him from Best Friends in Atlanta. Here’s an idea: Why not spend the day getting to know the next nearest city or visit a state park?

2. Go for an easy stroll.

From the sounds of birds in the trees to the smell of freshly cut grass, there are so many things for pets to take in on a simple summertime walk around the neighborhood. Benji, who was adopted from Best Friends in New York, loves to stroll around the neighborhood park where he lives and take in the view of the New York City skyline.

3. Foster some kittens.

By the summer months, kitten season is in full swing and shelters all across the county are inundated with newborns needing around-the-clock attention — a situation that makes kittens some of the most vulnerable animals at the shelter. In a foster home, however, kittens can receive constant care outside of the shelter where they have a better chance of staying healthy until they’re ready to be spayed or neutered and adopted.

Fostering kittens also happens to be a lot of fun. Just ask Zoe Casteel, who often takes kittens she fosters from Best Friends in Utah out for a walk in the cat stroller.

4. Have fun inside.

Summers can really heat up in Atlanta, but Emma doesn’t seem to mind. She recently helped foster Noodles from Best Friends in Atlanta and had a ball playing indoors with her. If it’s just too warm to spend quality time outside with your pet, take a cue from Emma and keep it inside. Have interactive toys and puzzles on hand, put on a pet-themed movie or use the time to help your dog learn a few new cues.

5. Visit pet friendly businesses.

Another great way to beat the heat with your pup is by visiting local pet-friendly stores and restaurants. Callie McClean adopted Pilsner from Best Friends in Atlanta and on hot summer days the two of them relax on the dog-friendly patio at a local brewery.

6. Head to a trail.

Pick a shady trail and spend the day in the great outdoors (a bonus if you pack a picnic basket filled with treats for you and your dog. Here’s Tonks (adopted from Best Friends in Atlanta back in 2017) on a recent hike. And by the looks of that grin, he loved every minute of it.

7. Give a shelter dog a break.

If you can’t foster a dog at home right now, contact your local shelter about doggie day trips, when volunteers can take a dog from the shelter out for a day on the town. These day trips can do a world of good for dogs waiting for homes. For example, Ginny Popovich and her son, Kenny, take dogs from Best Friends in Los Angeles out for hikes two times every week.

“We see such a difference in their behavior out in nature,” says Ginny. “Dogs blossom and really shine in a relaxed happy place. The most exciting for me as a volunteer is seeing a shy dog come out of their shell and relax and have fun.”

8. Take a dip.

“L.A. weather is pool weather,” says Marissa Sunny, Best Friends supervisor in Los Angeles. On most days, you can find water-loving dogs cooling off in the kiddie pool at the lifesaving center in Los Angeles. Want to do the same at your place? Check out your local dollar store for inexpensive kiddie pools. Then fill one with water and stand back while your dog makes a big, silly splash or two.

You can also check out your nearest swimming hole or creek, and visit on days when it’s too hot to take a long walk. Just make sure to bring a water vest for dogs who aren’t natural swimmers.

Of course, you’ll also want to make sure pets have access to plenty of water and are up to date on their flea, tick and heartworm prevention before they head outside in the summer. As long as they’re safe and stay healthy, the blue sky is the limit when it comes to fun in the summer — which is to say the possibilities are endless.

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