I am not sure there is anything quite as annoying as the person who walks up to you on the hottest day of the year and asks, “Hot enough for you?” The second most annoying thing someone can say about the heat is to try and dismiss it as a dry heat. Although humidity does certainly add to the misery factor, hot is hot, no matter how you try to rationalize it.

After an unusually wet and mild first two months of summer, the blast-furnace like heat that we’ve come to expect each August has arrived. In the last few weeks leading up to Labor Day, the pools and lawn sprinklers are sure to be in full use by kids not only having fun, but also trying to avoid the heat.

There is one group, though, that cannot drive to the pool or even change into something cooler. Our pets, both indoor and outdoor, are sensitive to extremes in temperature.

As pet owners we need to take it upon ourselves to care for them, making sure they have the proper conditions to survive the summer heat. Leaving them indoors is not necessarily safer than leaving them outdoors, if they are left in an un-air conditioned house with poor circulation. There are several simple steps each of us can take to make sure our pets are safe and comfortable during the summer months. By providing shade and water and keeping our pets well-groomed we can also keep

them safe.

Leaving your pet outdoors in an area without shade can be almost as dangerous as leaving them inside a hot car. Be sure they are not left in a cage, on a chain or in a run without sufficient shade for protection from the mid-day sun. With this area’s abundance of tall shade trees, that should not be hard for a pet owner to accomplish. In addition to being shaded, living areas need to be well ventilated. Plan to build your outdoor kennel in the shade and in an area that will be exposed to a breeze during the day.

Making sure your pet has a supply of fresh water is also important. Bowls should be large enough that they will be difficult to tip over, particularly with dogs. Make sure the water bowl is placed in a shaded area where it cannot be heated by the sun. Water is very important in keeping cats and dogs cool in hot conditions.

Pets left indoors are not necessarily out of the danger zone. Indoor pets also need fresh water but almost as importantly they need fresh air. Owners can keep air circulating with a child-proof fan or an air-conditioner in the pet’s room.

Cats and dogs with long hair, or with hair mats, retain heat increasing their body temperatures and increasing risk of injury. Keep your pet well groomed by clipping long hair and mats. Shorter hair will help keep your animal cooler.

As humans, we have many options available to us for keeping cool. We can turn up the air conditioning, put on shorts and T-shirts or head to the pool or beach. For the next several months the temperature is going to do nothing but climb up the thermometer. Before you load up and head to the pool this summer, take a couple of moments and check the conditions your pet is living in. Make sure you provide adequate shade and water for your pet. Leaving your dog outside in the yard is not always necessarily safe. Taking a few simple steps can make it safe and comfortable. Don’t you owe at least that much to an important member of your family?

Bill Crist is associate publisher of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Wednesday. He may be reached by e-mail at bill.crist@brownwoodbulletin.com.