Keep Pets CoolIn hot weather, animals overheat just as easily as humans. In some ways, it’s even harder for them to maintain a healthy body temperature than it is for us. With record heat waves expected this summer, there are some basic guidelines owners need to follow to keep their pets cool and safe.

Turn on the AC

During a heat wave, the safest place for your pet is inside with the AC on. If you don’t have air conditioning, then a fan will work almost as well.

Provide Plenty of Water

Pets dehydrate quickly, so fill their water bowl regularly throughout the day. Lay out extra bowls if you have to. On extremely hot days, add a couple of ice cubes. Pets enjoy cool water as much as we do. Furthermore, if you’re going outdoors, take a water bottle and collapsible bowl with you. Your pets will probably need a drink every 15-20 minutes.

Provide Lots of Shade

Like humans, pets overheat quickly in direct sunlight. A few are even prone to sunburn. If they’re going to play outside, make sure there is shade for them to rest: trees, shrubs, umbrellas, etc.

Limit Exercise

Pets need to be let out from time to time, but be careful if you let them out in the middle of the day. Temperatures peak from 10 a.m. ‒ 6 p.m., so any physical activity during this time could cause problems. Confine walks to early morning or late evening. If you have to go out (e.g. for a bathroom break), avoid pavement, which can damage their footpads. Stick to grass, dirt, or wood chips.

Never Leave Them in the Car

A locked car is like a greenhouse. On a hot day, temperatures can rise quickly and become dangerous. Never leave your pets behind. Always take them with you.

Keep Them Well Groomed

Fur keeps pets warm in winter and cool in summer. It traps heat when it’s cold and repels it when it’s warm. However, in order to effectively regulate body temperature, fur has to be clean. Brush your pet regularly and bathe them if they become dirty or unkempt. Don’t shave your animals, but if your pet wasn’t bred for hot climates, getting them a trim will  help them stay cool.

Take Them Swimming

Pets like to cool off just as much as we do. If they like going outside, take them someplace where they can splash around, like a stream, lake, or pond. The beach works as well, though be careful. Sometimes they wind up ingesting sand or algae.

Or, if you don’t want to drive, set up a pool in your backyard. Sprinklers are another option. Pets also enjoy playing with ice cubes.

Buy an Elevated or Cooling Bed

Given how much pets like to nap, a better bed is a good way to keep them cool day and night. Elevated beds provide air circulation, so the heat gets carried away instead of getting trapped, as it does with a mattress. Cooling beds are made from special fabric and filled with water, which siphons heat in response to soaring temperatures.

Treating Heat Stroke in Dogs & Cats

Heat stroke can come on fast in animals, so stay alert. Know the signs and how to respond. In dogs, common symptoms include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Weakness
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Drooling
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Temperature over 104°F

On the other hand, common symptoms in cats are:

  • Redness in the mouth and tongue
  • Heavy panting
  • Stumbling
  • Staggering
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Temperature over 105°F

Act immediately if you notice symptoms. Move your pet to the shade. Give them something to drink and soak them with cool (not cold) water. A bag of ice or frozen vegetables between their legs helps cool them down even faster. Once they’ve had a chance to cool off, take them straight to the vet.