As we’re going into summer, it’s essential to be aware of the potential for heat exhaustion for everyone: yourself, your kids, and your pets.
Since your pets can’t tell you when they’re having trouble keeping cool, you have to make sure they have everything they need to beat the heat. To do that, you have to understand how your pets stay cool.
Dogs try to keep cool in many of the same ways that humans do. First, they reduce their activity levels when it gets hot. Then they seek out cool places where they can stretch out, maximizing their contact with the cool surface. This might be a shady spot, a place on the grass, or a bed of plants. A dog left outside might even make their own cool place by digging to find the cool dirt just a short distance under the surface.
But when the temperature gets too hot, these methods might not be enough. As the temperature gets high, only evaporation remains an effective way to cool down. With a furry coat, dogs can’t sweat effectively, so they pant. Panting brings in hot air, which evaporates the moisture in their throat and lungs. This cools them off.
Cats use many of the same tricks to try to keep themselves cool. You probably notice your cat gets especially lazy on a hot day. Low activity is the best strategy to avoid overheating. Cats will also seek out cool places to stretch out. Inside, this means you might find them on the bathroom floor near the toilet or perhaps in an empty bathtub or sink. Outside, they will stretch out in shady places.
When these strategies aren’t enough to help cats cool off, they also turn to evaporation. Like dogs, cats can’t sweat effectively for cooling. But unlike dogs, they don’t normally pant. Cats will pant if they get very hot, but if you see your cat panting, it’s a sign that they’re too hot, and you need to respond. Instead, cats groom themselves excessively to cool down. This puts saliva on their fur, which then evaporates, cooling the cat down.
If you notice signs that your pets are overheating, it’s important to help them keep cool. First, make sure that an outdoor dog has access to shade all day. Remember that shade moves across the yard and might be minimal in the hottest part of the day. Don’t count on a doghouse to provide that shade—they are just as likely to act like an oven, concentrating heat in a confined space.
Make sure your pets have plenty of access to water. Put water in places where it won’t get too hot and check on it often. Not only will water evaporate a lot faster when it’s hot out, but animals sometimes spill their water.
If your yard doesn’t have enough cool spots, or if your pet must be confined to a kennel or run that can get hot, you should consider a more powerful cooling option. Portacool evaporative coolers give you a great way to efficiently provide cooling for pets outside or in areas that are too open to effectively air condition. Our coolers are so effective that veterinarians use them to keep kennel animals cool and comfortable.