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New Ways to Keep Pets Cool in Summer

Keep pets cool in summer

If you’ve followed PetsWeekly for any length of time, you already know how we dread the summer heat. We’re long-term residents of Arizona and we feel like that makes us experts on the topic. As temperatures continue to rise on our planet, so do our temps in the southwest. This summer, it appears the entire nation is going to experience a taste of our sweltering heat.

It’s very important to keep your pets cool in summer. Not only are pets susceptible to heatstroke, they can wind up with burned paws and even skin cancer if you don’t take precautions.

That’s why we wanted to share some of our tips and tricks. If you’re anywhere in the world where summer heat is on the rise, we hope you’ll pay attention! Here are a few of our favorite ways to protect pets from the summer heat and sweltering sun.

NOTE: When possible, we use affiliate links in our posts.

Tip 1: Products To Help Keep Pets Cool in Extreme Heat

When you’re dealing with temperatures of 110 degrees (or more) in the arid west, or 80 degrees in the humid south, there are different strategies for staying cool. We’re going to try and address each of these products from both perspectives. Here are few of our favorite pet products to keep pets cool in summer.

Cooling Mats

If you live in a hot, dry region, these cooling mats are ideal for pets. The pressure-activated gel cooling pad is ideal for placing on porches, in kennels or even indoors. It will not overly cool your pet. But keep in mind that in the humid south, they may not be quite as effective. Keep these pads out of the direct sun, and be sure you check on your pet frequently if they prefer to use them outdoors.

Cooling Vests

Cooling vests are designed to keep your pets slightly cooler on walks. Just wet the middle of the coat, wring it out, then place on your pet. Cooling vests are designed for short-term walks and hikes, not for all-day wear. They work quite well (sort of like an evaporative cooler) in hot, dry areas. However, they are not nearly as effective in the humid south. Keep this in mind if you use them in that region. In the South, they have a tendency to be very heavy weight for your dog as they don’t truly dry out as they should.

Cooling Bandanas

These cooling bandanas are great for helping to reduce heat stress. They also contain a build-in leash hole so your pets don’t disrupt the coolness on walks.

Frozen Toys

Some toys are just perfect for freezing – like these beef-flavored indestructible toys or a Kong toy with a favorite treat or broth frozen inside. They not only help your pet stay cool, but keeps them busy through the day. Another fun trick is to free your pet’s favorite toys inside a ring of ice and let them work at getting them free throughout the day. Perfect for dogs who love to bark!

Frozen Treats

Make your own sherbert or ice cream treats for a quick treat outside! Here are 5 refreshing treats you can make for your pets in summer! We love these options as a healthy approach to cooling your pets no matter where you live.

Air Conditioning

Make sure your pets have access to plenty of fresh, cool air during the day. Sometimes this means adding a spare air-conditioning unit. We’ve used this wall-mounted unit for years. But, we have added a Mr. Cool Mini Split in our outdoor cat enclosure. I can’t recommend it enough!

Tip 2: Be Aware of the Heat and Heat Index

The heat index is a measure of how stifling it feels due to temperature and humidity. In the south, where humidity reigns supreme, even moderate temperatures can spike the heat index into the uncomfortable red zone. This means, it is exceeding 105°F in places like Florida and the Gulf Coast. The oppressive combination of heat and humidity makes everyone feel awful.

In contrast, the northeast can experience lower humidity, leading to a more tolerable heat index despite similar temperatures. For example, a 90°F day in New York might feel like a balmy 85°F. While a sticky 100°F in Georgia may feel hotter than a dry 110°F Colorado. Regional variations within each area keep things interesting.

Ultimately, understanding the nuanced interplay of temperature and humidity (and how it effects your pets) is key to staying cool and comfortable during summer months.

There are a number of ways you can help people and pets in summer. Know how to perform CPR, understand the symptoms of heatstroke, and strive to keep you and your pets hydrated.

Tip 3: Learn The Symptoms of Heatstroke

Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition for pets and it can happen at any time. If you don’t know how to prevent heat stroke in pets, we’re going to tell you!

Heatstroke occurs when their body temperature rises to dangerous levels, often due to excessive exposure to heat or exertion. Unlike humans, pets cool down primarily through panting and through their paws, all of which becomes ineffective in extreme heat. This can lead to organ damage, seizures, and even death if not treated promptly.

Pets most at risk for heatstroke include brachycephalic breeds (dogs with short snouts like pugs and bulldogs), overweight or senior pets. Certain medications and underlying health conditions can also increase this risk.

Prevention is key!

  • Never leave pets unattended in hot cars
  • Always povide ample shade and removal from heat
  • Provide fresh, cool water during walks
  • Avoid strenuous activity during peak heat hours
  • Take dog boots off when they don’t need them on to walk
  • Limit playtime on asphalt, packed dirt, sidewalks or artificial turf (temps on these surfaces can exceed 180°F!)
  • Be especially mindful of outdoor time during hot weather spells and humidity.

Early signs of heatstroke in pets include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Drooling
  • Glazed eyes
  • Vomiting
  • Incoordination

If you suspect your pet is suffering from heatstroke, immediately move them to a cool area. Wet their fur with cool water and seek veterinary attention immediately. Heatstroke is absolutely a medical emergency. By taking precautions and being aware of the signs, you can help keep your pets safe and healthy during hot weather.

Tip 3: Know How to Perform CPR!

Heatstroke and water-related deaths are sadly commonplace in the desert. Unlike humans, who can shed clothing and sweat profusely to cool down, dogs and cats are often at the mercy of the environment. Their inability to pant effectively in extreme heat can quickly send their body temperature soaring, leading to organ failure, seizures, and even death if not treated immediately.

This is where knowing pet CPR becomes a critical lifeline. Every second counts when a pet’s body is overheating, and the ability to perform basic life-saving measures like chest compressions and rescue breathing can bridge the gap between life and death while waiting for veterinary help.

Several pet CPR courses are available online and in person, often taught by veterinarians or animal welfare organizations. These courses typically take a few hours and equip you with the skills and knowledge to handle a heatstroke emergency. Investing this time can pay off in dividends, giving you the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’re your pet’s best advocate, even in the face of the most unexpected challenges.

Remember, heatstroke is preventable, but it’s crucial to be prepared. Make pet CPR a priority this summer, and give your pets (and others) the gift of a fighting chance in the face of this silent killer.

Tip 4: Pool Safety – Not All Dogs Can Swim!

Pools are fantastic for keeping dogs and humans cool in summer. However, bear in mind that not all dogs know how to swim (read more about Dogs that can’t Swim and Some that just aren’t very good at it).

Some dogs are simply not designed for swimming due to their barrel chests or short legs. Learn how to protect your pets when they are around water.

On that same note, not all pets know when it’s time to take a break in the shade. Make sure you keep an eye on your pets when they’re outdoors.

Tip 5: Keep You and Your Pets Hydrated

In Arizona, you never travel anywhere without a bottle of water tucked away. We keep a few gallons of water in our car, as well as extras in our home so our pets (or other people’s pets) are never without a cool drink.

Remember, if you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.

Dehydration can result in a myriad of symptoms from muscle cramps to death.

Water is the only common thread uniting every single animal on this earth – drink often and do everything you can to encourage your pets to drink. If you notice your dogs or cats are not drinking enough water, we have some tips on increasing your cat’s water intake, and some tips for making sure your dog drinks plenty of fluids.

Tip 6: Never Leave Pets In Cars!

I shouldn’t have to say it, but I will:

Never leave your pet in a hot car!

Finding a pet left in a hot car is a heart-wrenching sight, but staying calm and taking quick action can make all the difference. Every minute counts in these situations, so here’s what you should do:

  1. Assess the situation: Quickly check the animal’s condition. Are they panting excessively, drooling, lethargic, or unconscious? These are signs of heatstroke, a life-threatening emergency.
  2. Call for help: Immediately dial 911 or your local animal control. Explain the situation and location, and follow their instructions.
  3. Remove animal from vehicle: Some states (like Arizona) have Good Samaritan laws protecting people who break into cars to rescue animals in distress. However, this is not a “free pass” to walk around breaking windows. Often, the vehicle (especially Tesla) has an auto-run function that keeps the car cool.
    • Document the scene: Use your phone or a camera to document the animal, the vehicle, the license plate, the time and the owner (if possible).
    • Invite additional witnesses – the more the merrier. It’s important to have witnesses in the event the owner receives a citation (and we hope they do).
    • Call 911. An animal in a car is an emergency situation.
  4. Try to cool the animal: If safe and legal, attempt to lower the car’s temperature by opening windows or doors. Move the animal to a shaded area and wet their fur with cool water (avoid ice water, which can constrict blood vessels). Do not force water if they’re unwilling to drink.
  5. Stay with the animal: Don’t leave the animal’s side until help arrives. Monitor their breathing and keep them calm.
  6. Prevent future occurrences: If you see someone leaving their pet in a hot car, politely approach and explain the dangers. Offer to stay with the animal while they run an errand. Remember, education and awareness are key to preventing these tragedies.

If the animal is in obvious and severe distress, be very cautious in how you break the window and remove the pet, but remember:

  • Glass can cut you and the animal.
  • You do not know how dangerous the animal in that car might be – stress will aggravate any aggression issue.
  • You don’t know how the animal will respond to you coming into their space.
  • You don’t know how the window will break and if it may cause more problems for the animal.
  • You must have a safe way to restrain the animal and a place to move them into the shade and off of pavement or concrete.
  • You don’t know how the owner will respond should they arrive back at the car.

A parked car can turn into a furnace quickly, even on mild days. Always be vigilant and take action if you see a pet in distress. By acting promptly and knowing what to do, you could save a life.

how to Keep pets cool in summer

Water, Water, Everywhere

Your pets need 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight each day. Learn more about how much water your pets need, and how you can help them reach this amount during the day.

how to Keep pets cool in summer

Cats, especially

Cats especially are notorious for not drinking enough water, but all animals may have a problem drinking enough water in summer. This is why water fountains are so important. Pets and wildlife tend to drink more when water is moving. Filtered water can also help improve your pet’s water intake.

Water is critically important but delivering that water can be challenging when you’re on the road (or trail). That’s why we always carry a few extra water bowls. They’re easy to store, simple to clean (just toss into dishwater) and they’re lightweight. When selecting a plastic or silicone water bowl, be sure it’s made from food grade plastic or silicone that is BPA-Free (like the Dexas Popware Water Bowl).

Prepare Your Yard for Summer

Thankfully, technology and innovative tech has made it easier to keep ourselves cool (yes, even in Arizona). But, what to do if your dog stays outdoors while you’re at work or if you don’t have air conditioning? There are a number of solutions to this problem.

Install a Pet Door

If you don’t want your pets roaming the house while you’re away, consider Installing a Pet Door for Summer that opens into a confined area of your home (or even into a large crate where your pets can move freely). Pet doors can be permanently installed in a wall or temporarily installed in a sliding glass door. If you’re concerned about security, choose one that only opened with your pet’s unique collar ID or microchip.

Access to Shade

Make sure your dog has plenty of shade, an elevated pet bed where they can curl up on to allow for air circulation, and easy access to water. The FrontPet Foldable Pool also provides a great option for providing a small area to cool down. 

Mist System

If you’re in a very dry climate, you may want to consider installing a Mist System on your patio. These can drop the air temperature as much as 20 degrees. Your dogs will need plenty of access to water in order to cool off.

Cooling Pads and Vests

Another favorite with our pets (for indoor or outdoor use) is the Green Pet Shop Self-Cooling Pet Pads. These all-natural cooling pads use your pet’s body weight to become activated and naturally help cool your pets during hot summer days. You’ll find they are excellent for yourself as well!

We’ve tried out a lot of cooling vests and most of them have been far too heavy for the dog when it’s wetted and placed on top of them. I’m pleased to report that the Ruffwear Swamp Cooler is the best we’ve ever seen for cooling vests. Read our review of this neat product at Keeping Dogs Cool with the Ruffwear Swamp Cooler.

Protect Your Pet’s Paws

Contact burns to paws can develop in only a few seconds when temps raise over 85 degrees. Surfaces like asphalt and concrete are an average of 40-100 degrees hotter (depending on the surface) than the air temp. It’s very important to keep paws protected from the summer heat.

Before you head out for a walk, make sure you test the surface of the asphalt by placing your hand on the surface and holding it there for 15 seconds. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pets. For this reason, you should only walk your dog in the very early mornings or very late evenings.

Dog Boots

Besides walking only on lawns, these are some ways to protect your pets paws.

Note: You will see many companies advertise their paw wax as a protectant for hot summer days. This is NOT effective for pets paws in the desert heat. Please look into boots with a thick sole.

how to Keep pets cool in summer

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