Have you ever experienced what it’s like to take a walk outside in the middle of a hot summer day while wearing your warmest winter coat? Probably not, but your pet does!
Since wearing a jacket outdoors in the middle of the summer doesn’t sound appealing, you may wonder how you can keep your pets cool when the temperatures outside start to rise. Well, don’t sweat! In this article, we’ll explore some of the ways you can keep your pets cool during warm weather without having to keep them indoors all day. You’ll also learn what to look for if your pet is overheated, as well as the most effective ways to keep them cool if your air conditioner decides to stop working.
How Pets React to Heat
If pets could talk, what do you think they would say? “You keep the house too hot at night, stop it!” or “I want more cheese, please!” All jokes aside, since your pet can’t communicate their temperature preference to you, it’s important to understand how some pets react to heat. A pet’s size, weight, coat, and age all play a role in how they keep themselves cool. For example, a long-haired pet with a fuller coat will get more overheated than their short-haired counterparts. And smaller animals have a higher surface-area-to-volume ratio, making them lose body heat faster, which is why they gravitate towards a warmer atmosphere. Younger pets are usually better equipped to handle the heat and regulate their body temperature than pets that are older.
If you’re a dog or cat owner, you may get concerned when you see your pet panting, which is understandable! However, you may be surprised to learn that dogs and cats don’t sweat as we do, they regulate their internal temperatures by panting. So, while you should keep an eye out for heavy, excessive panting, just know that panting is the way they regulate their body temperature and keep cool! It’s also important to know the basic signs of heatstroke for your pet. For many animals, the list includes symptoms such as heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, and profuse salivation.
When you’re hot, you grab some water, sit by a fan, or turn down the AC. Well, the same goes for your pet, with the exception of fans (more on this later). You should always make sure your pet has fresh, cool water available and a cool place to recover when exposed to heat for an extended period of time.
If you’re outside and notice your pet is panting excessively, get them into the shade quickly and give them water right away. And never, ever leave your pet alone in a car under any circumstances. Even on mild days, temperatures inside a vehicle can soar to over 170 degrees! Even with the windows cracked, it’s incredibly dangerous and unlawful to leave your pet in an unattended vehicle.
If you are looking to take your dog out to exercise, check the humidity and heat index first. If the forecast calls for a humid and hot day, it’s better to wait until later in the day so you avoid the midday/afternoon heat.
Fun fact: Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which is what takes the heat away from their body (pretty cool, right?!)
If it’s too humid outside, your pet can’t cool down as well or as quickly as on dry days, which means their temperatures can soar to dangerous levels. Therefore, it’s best to keep your pet indoors during the hottest times of the day. Wait until either earlier in the morning or later in the evening to venture outside with your pet. Another idea? You can look into installing a pet door in your home. This way your pet can come indoors whenever they need to cool off. If you happen to have pets that are left inside and alone during the day, we recommend setting your air conditioner between 74-78 degrees to keep your house and your pet(s) cool while you are gone.
Keeping Pets Cool Outdoors
Guess what? You don’t need a fancy pool, state-of-the-art sprinkler system, or an ice swan to keep your pet cool and happy outdoors! To keep your pet from overheating while outdoors, ensure they have plenty of cool water and access to shade. If you have a towel, you can soak it in cold water for a bit to give them something to lay on when outside. You can even step it up a notch and get a small wading pool for your pet to play in, preferably in the shade. And just as with your car, never leave your pet outside when you’re not at home. Too many things can go wrong if your pet is left unattended for hours on end, especially in hot and humid conditions.
If you’re headed out of the house with your pet during warm weather, try to go somewhere where they can take a quick splash in the water to cool off if need be. Think lakes, pools, beaches, or anywhere with sprinklers! And don’t forget to bring some towels for the ride home. No matter where you go, remember to bring some water, too. Either a portable water bowl or a collapsible cup or bowl will do.
Related Topic: AC Maintenance—DIY vs Calling a Pro
Cooling Without an Air Conditioner
If for some reason your AC breaks or is being repaired and your pet starts panting profusely...what do you do? How do you cool them down? You may think pulling out all your fans is the best option, but not so fast! Although fans can help keep us cool, they don’t work so well for our pets since we sweat differently than they do. To help your pet cool down, place a bucket of ice in front of your fan to help it provide cold air. You can also look into purchasing a cooling mat for your pet to lie down on when temperatures start rising in your home. Another way to help your pet keep cool while your A.C is out of commission is by allowing them access to the coolest rooms in your house (think: tiles or cement floors!). You can also simply just wipe your pet down with cold water, or place a towel soaked in cool water over them (if they will allow it) to cool them down.
Schedule Service with Aire Serv
When it’s hot outside and your air conditioner isn’t working right, it can be uncomfortable for everyone - especially your pets. After all, they can’t remind you when it’s time to get your A.C. checked! To make sure you and your pets are not stuck without air conditioning when you need it the most, contact your local Aire-Serve professional. We’ll check your entire system to make sure it’s operating efficiently so you and your pets never lose your cool.