High temperatures can be a challenge for humans and pets who don’t have air conditioning in their home. I do have air conditioners, but prefer not to use them most summers. Growing up, we didn’t have air conditioning, so when I bought my home, my dog, Jack, and I were used to not being in a cool environment during the summer heat. Jack’s favorite way to beat the heat was to carefully carry his water bowl into the living room and place it in front of a box fan I had sitting on the floor where he could enjoy the air and have a drink of water close at hand. As pet owners, it’s our responsibility to help our pets stay as cool as possible during the dog days of summer. You can keep your pet cool without air conditioning.
Now pets are normally difficult to control especially when the heat wave is in its worst phase but still not everyone is fortunate enough to own even a cheap air conditioner much less something like blaux portable ac but still certain things need to be worked out.
Dogs and cats don’t sweat like we do. They do sweat, however, through their feet, but the pads aren’t a large enough area to cool them down. One way a cat stays cool is by grooming herself. As the saliva drys on her fur, it cools her down. Dogs pant and when he’s really hot, his tongue will swell which gives the tongue more surface area for body heat to be released. Cats will pant as a last resort to try and stay cool. If you see a cat panting, you know it’s hot outside. Cats and dogs like to stretch out on cool surfaces when it’s hot like tile flooring or wood flooring. That’s one reason why you may find your dog or cat sleeping in the bathtub, on the kitchen counter or in a sink on a hot day.
Circulate the air with fans. Fans won’t bring the temperature down inside the home, but they will move the air around helping to keep it cooler. A combination of ceiling fans, pedestal fans and window fans can help make life more bearable inside a hot house. Pedestal fans are up away from pets and window fans work well blowing out to help pull hot air inside the house to the outside. Some homes are set up to allow air to circulate throughout the home and placing a fan in a doorway, pulls air around the house. You can experiment with the proper placement of fans to get the best airflow. Pulling curtains closed to keep the hot sun out of the house makes a huge difference.
Take your dog swimming at a dog friendly lake. Even if your dog doesn’t like going in the water, relaxing under a shade tree by a lake or pond is usually cooler than inside your home. If your dog likes getting in the water, an afternoon romp in a lake or pond can help him cool down. If you spend an afternoon at the lake, don’t forget your dog needs sunscreen made specifically for him. Our sunblock can be toxic for pets.
Put a kiddie pool under a shade tree in the back yard. Some dogs and even some cats will climb into a kiddie pool to beat the heat. Only put enough water in the pool to cover their tummy. They don’t need a lot of water and laying in it will help them stay cool. Pets should be supervised around water in a pool or lake.
Cool inside air with a block of ice. Placing a block of ice in a cooler or large bowl in front of a fan works sort of like an air conditioner. As the air from the fan melts the block of ice, it helps cool the air around and in front of the fan. The one drawback is it also adds humidity to the house.
If your home has a basement, it’s usually cooler in the basement. My basement is probably 10 or 15 degrees cooler than the air temperature upstairs. Move your pet to the basement during heat spells.
Wrap 3 or 4 ice cubes in a towel and wipe your pet down. Cool your pet down by slowly moving the towel around their neck, over their back, tummy, legs and feet. However, if you think your pet is suffering from heat stroke do not use ice cubes to cool them down. The sudden shock of cold can be deadly for a pet experiencing heat stroke. If your pet is suffering from heat stroke, put a cool towel on them and call your vet.
Give your dog a bath, hose him down and mist your cat. Hot days are the best time to give your dog a bath. The wet fur helps cool down his body as he dries. Hosing your dog down does the same thing and for dogs who love to play in water, it’s fun for him and you can water your lawn at the same time. Most cats aren’t crazy about water, but they will let you mist them down when it’s hot. Just don’t spray them in the face. That’ll get you a, “Why did you do that?” stare only a cat can give.
Frozen dog treats give your dog something to do and helps to cool him down. I fill an ice cube tray with their favorite canned dog food and freeze it. You can also use chicken broth with small pieces of cooked chicken in it. When they need a cold treat, all you have to do is pop a cube out of the tray. Just remember which ice cube tray you put the frozen dog treats in. The cubes may cool down your drink, but neither frozen treat is good in iced tea or lemonade. Frozen treats are best eaten outside in the shade.
It’s important to make sure pets drink plenty of water, especially when it’s hot. Cats are more finicky than dogs and may not drink water that’s been sitting out and is warm. Adding ice cubes to their water will keep it cool longer and give cats and dogs something interesting in their water bowl to check out. One of my dogs loves to bob for ice cubes and several of my cats like to push the cubes around in the water.
Heat can be a killer for pets and humans. Pet owners who don’t have air conditioning and work outside the home should check in on their pets during heat spells. If you can’t get home over lunch or during a break, make arrangements with a friend or neighbor who can check in on your pet or consider hiring a pet sitter when your area is going through a heat wave. Limit exercise during the heat of the day and never leave a pet inside a hot vehicle.