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Since we are officially in the beginning of summer, I thought I’d share some insight in to various ways to keep our pets cool and comfortable all summer long. Some of these seem pretty basic. You might think that these are things that should come easy to pet owners, but you’d be surprised how many pets we see at our office that come in overheated. We also tend to get calls that pets are behaving differently when it’s hot out, even though they are strictly indoor pets. So, turn on the AC, sit back, and take note of the following tips to keep your furry friends happy and comfortable.
Water – Keep everyone and every animal hydrated! The heat affects them the same way as it does us. Except we sweat, dogs and cats don’t officially. They pant, a lot. Whether you are indoors with your pets or spending time outdoors, make sure there is water available at all times, cool and fresh. If you are leaving the house for several hours or the majority of the day, throw a handful at least, of ice cubes in your pets water bowls. You can extend the length of time the water stays cool instead of getting room temperature. When your pets are going to be spending time outdoors with you, remember to bring water with you. Also, investing in a travel bowl is a great idea. They come in leak-proof fabric as well as foldable “rubber” bowls to save space while you travel. Finally, freeze water in water bottles to put in your pet’s favorite spaces. This also works well cages if you have small and furry animals like rabbits or guinea pigs. If you’d enjoy a cold refreshing glass of water, so would your pets.
Image Credit: Flickr User: BotheredByBees
Never EVER leave them in your car – I don’t care if you have your air conditioning on, if you are parked in the shade, or if the windows are open. There is no need to keep your pet in your cat on a hot day. Temperatures inside a car can reach 20 degrees higher or more inside the car then outside. If you think it’s no big deal, get in your car on an 80 degree day and just sit there. No AC, crack a window maybe. You won’t last a minute without getting out for relief. It does not take long for our pets to begin suffering from heat stroke, and their is no errand worth running that could be worth your pets life. (Now people, please do not go shutting yourselves in your car to literally test my theory, that would not be smart folks – but you get my drift)
Pick the best times of day to be active with or take them outdoors – You may have to change your schedule with your dog as far as walks go to limit your time outside when the sun is strongest. Set aside some extra side early in the morning and later in the evening to go for a romp. If you dog isn’t a seasoned jogger, don’t force a faster paced walk to make up for a skipped mid day one. Keep your walk at an easy pace, but just for a longer amount of time, as long as it’s comfortable enough outside. Overweight pets have a harder time keeping up as it is, so running them when they aren’t used to it will have it’s own problems. Make sure you can provide a shady area for them to get out of the sun wherever you may be. Some dog houses are made to provide a much cooler spot for dogs outside. We have a dog house shaped like an igloo and I know there’s a more defined reason, but it is definitely about 15+ degrees cooler in our boys’ house than it is out in the sun.
Leave them home – If you have cats, and they are let outside and aren’t strictly indoor felines, make the indoors a little more fun and don’t let them outside. You cannot guarantee that they’ll find something to drink, or a shady place to cool off for a while. If they do routinely go outside and come back home to be let back in, what will they do while you’re out and about enjoy a hot summer day? Sure you’ll hear a lot more meowing and complaining possibly, but knowing they are safe and cool should give you piece of mind. Invest in some more cat toys, or a laser light to keep them form getting bored. Save a little money and save a cardboard box or 2 and let them have a blast inside. (My cat keeps himself entertained for hours with a box!) For your dogs, unless you can provide a cool place to rest and fresh water at all times, leave your pooches home in a cool house. Young puppies and older dogs should be kept indoors regardless for their safety.
Outdoor bathing – While you can skip the shampoo (unless Butch really needs a washing) if you’ve got access to a hose, water your dog down every few hours to help them stay cool and comfortable. If you are traveling outdoors and your canine companion is along for the trek, aside from carrying water, bring a bandana or 2 along to soak with cold water and tie around your dogs neck. I’ve even soaked and frozen my dogs bandana for long lasting comfort. This is a good option for dogs that aren’t too thrilled about being hosed down. Our lab was petrified of water, but during a major blackout about 8-10 years ago, he was so hot that he stood for being hosed down in the yard and it’s been a piece of cake ever since.
Image Credit: Pete Markham
Finally, watch and monitor your pets behavior. If you are concerned about anything out of the ordinary, call your veterinarian. Pets can exhibit very different behaviors with they are overheated or suffering from heat stroke. I know I get irritable when I am too hot and uncomfortable, and the same goes for our pets. Some may nip or growl to warn others to leave them alone when they are affected negatively by the heat. When a pets temperature is reaching past 103, 104, etc this is a dangerous zone for them to be in. Higher than that, and our pets are at risk for seizures, even death. It becomes important to cool them off, but at the same time you cannot shock their system by introducing extreme opposite temperatures too quickly without the direction of a Dr. All of that being said, as long as you follow some of my tips, and plan your days or trips ahead of time, you can have an enjoyable summer with your pet whether indoors or out. Enjoy!