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How You Can Help Your Pets Stay Cool in the Heat

I have owned cats for over 60 years. Between them and their vets, I have learned a great deal about how they tick.


Heat and Your Pet

Whether you have a cat, dog, hamster, bunny, or any other type of pet, heat can have a devastating effect on them. They have fur—some more than others—or feathers, or scales. It would be like you wearing a winter coat to the beach.

Animals can't sweat as we do. They need other ways to cool off. Even inside but near a sunny window can overheat your pet. When they sit day after day with the sun beating down on them and the heat temperature rising steadily, you need to take action.

Check your pet for signs of overheating especially when temperatures rise.

What You Can Do

  • Plenty of water
  • A cool Splash in the water
  • Plenty of shade
  • Wet blanket or towel
  • Shelter from bad weather
  • Air conditioning

Plenty of Water

Just like us, animals need plenty of water. Dehydration can kill them. Be sure they always have water to drink. Even if you must go out multiple times or refill the bowl inside often. They can't walk up to the faucet and turn it on for a drink. They can't sweat to cool off. They can't tell you that they are thirsty. They need water, especially in the heat.

Animals inside need water just as much, if not more, than the ones outside. They have no cool breeze to ease the heat when they are inside. Many animals try to get the cool breeze of a fan (which is dangerous) but can help, but water to drink is a must.

A Cool Splash in the Water

Big or tiny kid's pools are great for pets, especially dogs. But, believe it or not, some cats also love swimming. Even small pets such as gerbils can enjoy a cool dip, but a small bowl would be better than a large pool. Be sure to keep an eye on your pet while they are swimming because they can't call for help when they need it.

Don't just put your animal in water and expect them to like it. Just as there are people who don't like swimming, there are pets who do not as well. Give them a taste of cool water by setting them in a small very shallow container first.

If they try to get out then water is not for them. If the pool isn't their choice, try using a sprinkler for them to get wet on their own. Just the cool water in the area will cool them down a bit.


Plenty of Shade

Shade can reduce the effect the sun has on your pets. Even inside, the sun can heat up the space and cause your pet harm. Here are a few suggestions:

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  • If your pet is outside, be sure they have a light-colored covered space to take refuge from the worst of the heat.
  • Be sure your pet has lots of water in large containers that are placed up against a solid object to prevent spillage.
  • Inside pets can still be affected if your home has lots of windows and your pet can't get away from the sun. Closing curtains or shades can reduce the effects the sun will have, so be sure your pet has a place away from the sun while they wait for your return.
  • Setting your pet up under a tree for shade will help, but make sure they can move with the shade as the sun moves across the sky.
  • Keep the water you leave for your pet out of the sun so it doesn't get heated up.
  • When they are outside, you should check on your pet often or have a friend or neighbor check to make sure they are alright and have plenty of shade.

Wet Blanket or Towel

If you don't have any of the above suggestions, try getting a towel or small blanket wet with cold water. Wring it out and put it over your pet to cool them down. Put one down on the floor for them to lay and cool off. Or fill the tub with cool water for them. Just remember to refresh the towel or blanket often.

Shelter From Bad Weather

Summer heat can be bad enough, but the humidity that often comes with it can cause thunderstorms. Your pet is not immune to getting struck by lightning. This is especially dangerous if your pet is tied to a tree or a metal fence which draws the lightning down.

Also, driving wind and rain can cause your pet harm as items are thrown around and water begins to build around them. Make sure your pet has a house or enclosure to keep them safe from the storm. It should be on higher ground and waterproof. It should also be secured in place so the wind doesn't blow it away.

While light rain can sometimes cool off the day, heavy rain can have the opposite effect. Stormy weather can't always be predicted, so make sure your pet has protection in case one comes while you are out.


Air Conditioning

I know a lot of people do not have air conditioning. But if you do, it can keep your pet from suffering heat stroke while they are inside waiting for you to come home.

Fans will also work, but they can be dangerous to animals left alone. Be sure they are on something like a table and be sure the pet cannot reach the cord. Windows that are close to the ground should be secured around the air conditioner to ensure no one can pull it out and climb inside.

The point is if you need to be gone for the day and it is hot outside, turn your air conditioner on for them. Even keeping it at seventy-five can make a difference for your pet.

Miscellaneous Ideas

Every pet is different and will have different needs. And many things will affect your pet in different ways. Keep in mind that animals, like young children, aren't always smart about dangerous items.

  • Keep fans high and cords hidden.
  • Ask your vet for ways to keep your particular pet cool or warm depending on the pet.
  • Keep a close eye on your pet for signs of overheating such as heavy panting.
  • Running water can keep your pet cool, but be careful that you don't flood the area where they stay.
  • Keep animals separated in the heat, their body heat combined together can cause them to overheat.
  • Be certain that your pet is safe, cool, and well hydrated.
  • Keep enclosures and pet housing colored with a light color to block the sun's heat.
  • Use a larger container for water such as a small kiddie pool. The water will be hard to spill and the animal can get in if they need to.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Cheryl Simonds

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