Temps are rising and family members are flocking to air-conditioned rooms and pools to cool off. But we're not the only ones suffering from the heat. In my house, my big black dog starts panting in May and really doesn't stop until October. Here's how we make sure he stays cool when the temps go up:

Extra water: Make sure your pet has access to plenty of fresh cool water all summer long. If your pet is outdoors, keep her water bowl in the shade so that it stays cool longer.

Shelter: If he can't get indoors, give your pet a shady spot to get out of the sun and heat. Shade from trees is a good start. Even better is a well-ventilated pet house or tent.

Keep 'em calm: Just like kids, pets need rest breaks throughout the day so that they don't overheat. If it's particularly hot outside, encourage your pet to rest and "chill out" rather than run around.

Freeze a towel: If you really want to be your pet's hero, put a towel or washcloth in the freezer to chill.  When it gets good and cold (but not frozen), spread it out on a tile floor or patio for your pet to lay on.  

Water play: If your dog is a water puppy, set up a hard-molded kiddie pool (not the inflatable kind) for him to take a dip. Just be sure to change the water frequently. Another option? A sprinkler that waters your lawn and your dog throughout the day — but check your local watering restrictions first.)

Also on MNN: Read this before you take your pet on errands with you this summer