How to Keep Your Cats and Dogs Cool in Hot Weather
It is not only us humans who have to keep cool in the warmer weather, our cats and dogs need to stay comfortable too.
In fact, dogs feel the heat far more than we do, so what may feel warm to us can feel sweltering to them. Dogs cope with getting hotter by panting, which helps to cool them down. But it’s not always enough, and can put a huge strain on their bodies.
Below, please find ten tips to help. In an earlier post, we gave you ten tips to keep your pets happy.
Here are some tips so you can help them
- Be careful never to leave your pet in a conservatory, outbuilding or vehicle - even with the windows open and even for just a short period of time - as temperatures can quickly rise. The temperature in a car can rise alarmingly quickly, so that a dog will become dangerously dehydrated and will likely suffer heatstroke. Sadly, as soon as a dog shows signs of heatstroke it’s often too late.
- Be aware that dogs and cats with light skin or white fur can be particularly vulnerable to sunburn - especially on their noses, ears and stomachs. You can use a non toxic waterproof sunblock made for pets on their skin if you are concerned. Even think about putting an old T-shirt on your dog as a form of protection.
- Avoid taking your dog out walking when the sun is at its hottest, sticking to early morning and late evening walks when the sun is lower in the sky and the sidewalks have cooled down.
- Remember that in hot weather, sidewalks and roads can become very hot and may still be hot later in the day. You would not want to be walking barefoot on them so your pets with their bare paws should not be doing so either. Booties to protect their paws from burns and cracking are available online and in pet stores. And another idea is to get some paw balm to soothe and hydrate your dog’s paws.
- Leave several bowls of fresh water (containing crushed ice cubes) around the house especially if you are going to be out of the home or at work for some hours.
- Another idea is to freeze some of your pets' favorite food in ice cube trays before placing in their food bowl for them to lick.
- If you have a back yard, a toddler pool will give your dog a great spot to cool off from the bottom up. Place the pool in a shady area with just a shallow amount of water and let your dog dip their paws or sprawl out in comfort.
- If your dog does spend time outdoors in the yard, please make sure there is shade always available.
- Your pets may find a damp towel cooling for them to lie on. You can even tuck an ice pack into their bed or under their blanket.
- Regular grooming is more important than ever in hot weather especially for long-haired pets. It helps them to regulate their temperature but don't be tempted to shave off their fur as this can put them at risk of sunburn. Shaving a double-coated dog can cause overheating. Those second-layer guard hairs that keep your dog warm in winter also protect them from the heat in summer. The fur provides an insulating effect and helps air circulate closer to the skin. Brush your dog regularly to remove mats and tangles to help improve air circulation to the skin. This will also help thin the undercoat but leave the protective guard hairs intact.
How to tell if your dog is dehydrated?
Here are those important warning signs you should watch out for in hot weather:
- Extreme lethargy
- Sunken, dry eyes
- Dry nose and gums
- Excessive panting
- Loss of appetite
If you’re still not sure whether your dog is dehydrated, gently pinch the skin on the top of your dog’s neck and it doesn’t snap back quickly, this can be a sign of dehydration.
If your dog is dehydrated, they will need urgent medical treatment.
How to tell if your cat is feeling the heat?
As the body temperature rises, a cat can suffer heat exhaustion and eventually heat stroke. If the body temperature is not brought down quickly, serious organ damage or death could result.
The initial signs that typically indicate the heat is causing your cat some heat stress include:
- Restless behavior as your cat tries to find a cool spot.
- Panting, sweaty feet, drooling, excessive grooming in an effort to cool off.
- Rectal temperature is usually normal to slightly elevated.
Ensure your cat is able to cool down before the situation gets worse by moving him to a cool quiet place and providing plenty of water.