Advice On Keeping Your Pets Cool In The Heat

by Dr. Leslie Kasper, DVM
Companion Animal Medical Center

Boy it’s hot out! Ninety-plus degree weather and no real rainfall in months; area residents haven’t seen weather like this for some time! But I guess now they understand the real meaning of “The Dog Days of Summer.”

I mean really, you think you got it bad?! Don’t forget about us – imagine wearing a fur coat and not being able to sweat other than through the pads of your feet (unless they are hairy too) and by panting! Yuck, Dry Mouth! So just as a kindly reminder from some of your fuzzy four-legged friends, here are some tips to help make keep us cool and comfortable too!

Cars + Pets = Death!
Think I’m being dramatic? Hundreds of pets die every year from being left in cars during summer heat. Yes, I know it’s just a quick errand and you left the windows cracked or even down, but in 80+ degree heat outside, the inside of a car can easily reach over 100 degrees in about five minutes. Best course of action is to just leave me at home! Really, you will only be gone a few minutes…

Shade or Shelter
If some of your four-legged friends spend a majority of their time outside during the day, make sure they have an adequate amount of shade to protect themselves. Doghouses can be helpful, but like your house or car, if it’s in the sun all day they can hold heat and provide little comfort. If the roof is detachable try lifting it up slightly or setting it off kilter to allow for airflow and heat escape. Having a second shelter or shaded area allows for options as the day and temperatures progress. If your pet has a light skin colored nose or ears (areas with little to no hair) a bit of sunscreen may be warranted as well.

Fresh water at all times!
Inside or out, all pets need access to fresh clean water. If possible when outside keep it in the shade, then it is bearable to drink and doesn’t evaporate quite as fast. Multiple bowls may be needed as we will go through more water than usual. But even inside, with all the fans and a/c going, the air becomes dry, and a good drink would feel great on that panting tongue. And ice cubes make fun toys!

Oh, and on the subject of mouths…
Don’t be surprised if the appetite falls off a bit! Sometimes it just doesn’t sound appealing to eat in this heat. Oh, and of course, sometimes heat can cause imbalances in the intestines, so soft stools can occur also!

Emergency Situations
Okay, we all know you are great pet-parents, but sometimes it’s just too hot! If you notice any of these symptoms, please call my veterinarian right away for evaluation or advice:

  • Difficulty breathing, especially in cats or dogs with short noses (like pugs, pekes, bull dogs, and others)
  • Pale gums, nose, eyes, or inner ears which are normally pink.
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, or lack of food/water intake
  • Shaking, seizures, or unresponsiveness when stimulated.

Okay, now go out and be safe!

Rover and Tiger

(Courtesy of NPB Advertiser Companion Animal Medical Center, 206-878-0405)


2 Responses to “Advice On Keeping Your Pets Cool In The Heat”
  1. Thanks for the great tips! When we take good care of our pets, they take care of us – help us reduce our blood pressure, lower our stress and so much more.

  2. Klynn says:

    These are great ideas; thank you for offereing them! Never thought about ventilating the dog house, but…..duh!
    Also, if you crate your animal at night and cover the crate with a blanket – don't when it is hot! Put up a cardboard wall around the crate using an old box. Leave the top open and a gap where the ends meet to aid in air flow. Better yet, put the crate outside in a safe place for the night so your pet can enjoy the cooler air overnight.

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