Summer months are a time of fun in the sun, but rising temperatures and longer days mean potential danger for your pets. High heat can have a negative effect on dogs and cats which can result in overheating and heat stroke, so it’s crucial to know how to keep your pet cool in summer.
This blog is about ways to cool down your furry friends without having to say goodbye to good times and tan lines. Read below to gain knowledge on how cats and dogs cool themselves naturally, the warning signs of overheating and heat stroke, ways to help keep their body temps low and summer safety.
How Do Cats and Dogs Cool Themselves?
Our canine and feline friends do not sweat the same way their human friends do – by perspiring from their bodies. Instead they have a different approach to the overheating problem.
Dogs regulate their body temperature through panting. As they breathe heavily the moisture from the lining of their lungs, nasal passages and tongue evaporates. This allows air to circulate throughout their body and helps them reach a lower temperature.
Cats lick and groom their coats to cool down. Once it evaporates from their coat the spit acts as a coolant similar to how a human’s sweat dries up off their skin.
Signs of Heat Stroke and Overheating
Even though they can naturally cool themselves, dogs and cats are still at risk of overheating and developing heat stroke when temperatures soar. Warning signs for both pets include excessive panting, whimpering/whining, slowing down and frequently laying down. More dangerous symptoms include difficulty breathing, excessive drooling, lack of coordination, collapsing, vomiting and seizures. If any of these are happening to your cat or dog, take them to a cooler environment immediately and call your vet for further instructions.
Ways to Keep your Pet Cool
Keep Your Dog or Cat Hydrated
You may have known that humans are mostly made up of water, but did you know that your cat and dog is the same way? H2O accounts for about 60% of their body weight. As humidity rises so does their need for water. A good rule of thumb is one ounce of water per pound of body weight for dogs and four ounces of water per five pounds for cats daily.
Excessive heat may tempt your pet to drink too much and too fast, leading to painful bloating. Thankfully there are a couple of strategies to prevent this from happening.
Control when and how much they drink by only giving them a small-to-moderate amount of water at a time, placing small bowls throughout the home or yard to curb the urge to drink it all at once, limiting drinking water 30 minutes prior to any intense exercising, and taking their bowl away if they are guzzling it down. You want your pets to drink enough – and slowly enough – to satisfy their thirst and cool them down without it harming them in any way.
Elevated or Cooling Bed for Dogs
An elevated bed is a must for any cats or dogs that want to hang out outdoors in high heat. This type of lounge furniture is perfect to keep them off the hot ground and allows the air or a breeze to cool their undersides.
Cooling beds are great to help your pet regulate their body temperature on hot days and nights. They come in a variety of sizes and styles to fit different types and preferences of household animals.
Provide Shade for Your Pets
Temperatures aren’t always dramatically different in the shade, but the shelter from the sun protects your furry friends from harmful UV rays. Some of the best summer shade options for dogs and cats in the backyard are patio umbrellas, canopy covers, sun sails or cotton awnings. Putting a protective shade over their elevated bed will create a little cooling paradise for your beloved pet.
Frozen Dog Treats
Like humans, dogs enjoy cold snacks on hot days. Frozen treats like homemade pupsicles, ice cream (Puppy Scoops ice cream mixes available at Smoochie Pooch locations) and frozen fruits and vegetables are a great way to cool them down and give them extra nutrients. Click here to learn which fruits and vegetables are safe for pets to consume.
Swimming and Water Activities for Dogs
Swimming in a pool, lake or river provides excellent exercise for your dog while keeping their body temperature cool. Be cautious at the beginning of summer, however, as many bodies of water may still be cold for your pet.
Water can be a dangerous place for dogs, so never leave your pooch unattended. Make sure they are experienced in swimming, put them in a life jacket if they need help with buoyancy, and give them breaks so they don’t get too tired.
If you don’t have access to a lake, river or a pool, you can cool your pet with water using a sprinkler, hose or kiddie pool. Dogs may bite or drag around hoses and sprinklers, so it’s best to keep an eye on them when utilizing them.
Regular Grooming Helps Keep Pets Comfortable in Summer
For both cats and dogs regular grooming is crucial to having a comfortable summer season. Most people are aware that an animal’s coat keeps them warm during the cold months, but many don’t know that it actually helps keep them cool during the hot months, too. It also protects their skin from sunburn.
To maintain proper air flow along your pet’s skin, consistently schedule brushing and styling to prevent matted, compacted fur and too thick of an undercoat. This will also decrease their summer shedding – an added bonus for pet owners!
For double-coated dogs and cats it’s actually not a good idea to shave them down. This action can completely change the texture and growth patterns of their fur. It is okay for single-layered cats and dogs, but this will increase their risk of major sunburn. Learn more about why you should never shave a dog with a double coat in this blog.
Never Leave Pets in a Parked Car
Never leave your pet in a parked car. Ever. Even with cracked windows the temperature inside of a vehicle can get up to 131-172 degrees Fahrenheit. With little-to-no air circulation, your furry friend will feel the effects of the rising temperatures quickly.
Don’t put your pet at risk for heat stroke – or death – by leaving them in your car. Do what is best for your pet and leave them at home in the air conditioning.
Be Mindful of Midday Heat
Temperatures can change dramatically throughout the day during the summer months. Midday, typically considered 11am – 3pm, is the hottest and most dangerous time for your pet to be outdoors. The best time to exercise your dogs or let your cats out is in the early morning or late evening. The sun will not be as intense and the temperatures will be lower.
Eighty-degree weather is considered moderately dangerous for animals. Being outside in 90+ degree weather is considered very dangerous for pets. Pay attention to heat levels outside before you decide to spend a lengthy amount of time in the open air with your dog or cat.
Hot Walking Surfaces for Dogs and Cats
The sun can bake a sidewalk or a road with intense heat and light. For this reason, asphalt and concrete may be much hotter than the air around them. To prevent your pets’ paws from burning, it’s a good practice to test the ground they will be walking on.
Place your palm on the sidewalk or road to feel how hot it is. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog or cat.
How to Enjoy the Dog Days of Summer
Summer is a wonderful yet tricky season. You want to be outside with your pets and let them play and roam, but the heat and sun can be harmful to their health and overall well-being. You can still enjoy the weather as long as you adhere to safety and actively provide consistent cooling opportunities for your dog and cat.
Always keep your pet hydrated, but do your best to prevent them from guzzling liquids. Pay attention to the outside temperature, both on the ground and in the air, and make sure your pet has adequate shade. Consider giving your pets frozen treats to cool them off or let them play in water for quick relief. And never, ever leave your pet in a parked car.
Your pet deserves regular grooming, and summer is no time to slack. Help prevent your pets from overheating, shedding excessively or burning in the sun by following a regular grooming regimen. And remember not to shave your pet if they have a double coat.
Talk to your local pet groomer if you have any questions. We’d love to help keep your pets cool this summer!