Surviving Summer: 8 Tips for Pets in the Heat
It’s summer. No one knows that better than us as we swelter in temps that should only be experienced inside of an oven. We’ll reach 117 degrees this week and that makes me feel a little terrified for the millions of animals left outdoors by owners who don’t know any better, or worse, don’t care. We know you’re not one of those people, but we do hope you can pass this article along to someone who may not know better.
It’s important to make sure your pets have shelter that is clean, ventilated and has adequate air circulation, preferably in an area that is shaded all day. Pets can overheat quickly.[box title=”Watch for these signs of heat exhaustion” box_color=”#996633″]
- loud, rapid panting
- rapid pulse
- glazed eyes
- excessive salivation
- elevated body temperature
- excessive whining, agitation and vomiting.
If you live in a climate with temperatures exceeding 80 degrees, we have some tips and tricks for you. Read on for the latest in cooling trends for pets…
General Guidelines for Surviving the Heat
If your dog must stay outside for whatever reason, be sure he has plenty of clean, cool water in a non-metal, spill-proof container.
Outdoor dogs may enjoy a baby pool filled with fresh water to relax in as the temperature climbs. Keep the pool in the shade.
Be aware that an in-ground swimming pool is NOT sufficient for drinking water, and a dog may inadvertently fall in and drown while attempting to drink water.
As always, watch your children around water, such as large dog dishes and play pools. (But be sure if you have a regular pool that your dog is not allowed access when you aren’t at home).
Here are a few more items you should consider adding to your summertime arsenal…
As Phoenix faces temps exceeding 120 degrees, the Phoenix Zoo is planning to keep the big cats cool by serving frozen fish-cicles. We have a similar plan but will be using The Honest Kitchen’s Ice Pups.
Ice pups™ are make-at-home grain free treats for dogs and cats. Serve them as a frozen or warm broth homemade treat.
Ice Pups come as a powdery mix that needs water added but can be served three ways! During the winter months, add warm water to make a nourishing broth that tastes divine. Ideal after playing in the snow! In the summer, add warm water and chill or serve over ice. You can also freeze the liquid in ice cube trays to make a healthy, puppy-sorbet!
Kumfy Tailz Cooling Harness
This thermal harness is a relatively new concept in pet harnesses and we love it. The idea is that you can freeze or heat up a removable “warming/cooling pack” to keep pets comfortable in any extreme. We love the new high-technology thermal insulating layer that stays warm or cool for over an hour. Since it fits between the harness and your pet, the Kumfy Pax is easily removed without having to removing the harness. The Kumfy Tailz Warming/Cooling Dog Harness is designed in the USA and created by people who really care about animals. That says a lot to us!
Remember that this is not a substitution for keeping your pets indoors during extreme weather. But, it will go a long way to keeping your pets comfortable for a play date or dog park run.
Here are a few of our favorite boots for dogs.
This is one of the most important items your pet can have, as far as I’m concerned. Particularly in the Southwest. Road temperature is dependent on the absorption of sunlight, and that means temps in Arizona can reach 200 degrees in summer.There is NO excuse for taking your pet out in these extreme temperatures without boots.
If you can’t walk on it barefoot (or even stocking-footed), your pet can’t walk on it bare-pawed. That’s your test. Walk around on the pavement/asphalt in bare or stocking feet for a few minutes. Then decide if you want to take your best friend out.
Ruffwear Grip Trex Boots are our personal favorite as they have a thick rubber sole that helps offer additional protection from the heat. They retail at $69.95 on Amazon. There are many other selections that are far more affordable so don’t feel like you need to spend a fortune.
Ultra Paws offers a nice set of boots that retail at only $31.95 on Amazon.
Socks are another option for pets who have long thing legs (especially greyhounds and other slim legged dogs). Our favorite pair of socks for the great outdoors is from Woodrow Wear. The greyhound edition are customized for dogs with thing paws and legs so that they stay on. Rubberized soles provide extra traction.
Pet Life Dog Socks with Rubberized Soles are a great alternative as well, and they only run $9.66 on Amazon.
Skin Care for Pets
You don’t think much about your dog being in the sun, but I’m here to tell you that it’s more of a problem than you think. Research shows that dogs are just as likely as humans to get skin cancer, and that a third of all tumors in canines are sun-related. Short-haired breeds are slightly more at risk than long-haired breeds (unless you shave them, which we strongly recommend you do NOT do). White and light-colored animals also tend towards higher frequency of tumors.
Even if your pet does not spend a lot of time outside, but prefer to lounge near the window, they are at risk. This is tragic as there are ways to prevent this problem, and like humans, it begins with sun block. You cannot use “human” sun block on animals due to chemicals (including Zinc, which will cause severe stomach upset in pets). You must use something that is specifically designed for pets.
The only sunblock for pets that we have used successfully and trust completely is the Epi-Pet Sun Protector Spray for Pets. We strongly recommend this line of products for the best protection from sun for your dogs and cats.
Pup Tents & Shade Cloths
If you don’t have large trees in your yard, you will need to provide shade for your pets. There are a number of ways to do this. First, you can check out one of these fun “pup-tents for dogs” that are easy to set up. The SturdiPet Bordeaux Pet Tent is easy to set up, cost-effective (retailing at about $55) and provides a nice shade for your pets.
Alternatively, you can explore shades that set up nicely on patios or in the yards by attaching to trees. We found these Coolaroo Triangle Shade Sails for $99 on Amazon. But there are many alternatives that will hold up to the weather but still provide shade.
Three BONUS Ideas for Staying COOL
1. Cooling Mats
We recently got these amazing Self Cooling Pet Pads in from The Green Pet Shop and we immediately hijacked it for ourselves. This pad regenerates on it’s own – once it warms up (which it takes awhile to do), just let it air out for a few minutes. It will be right back to it’s cool self in no times.
We especially love this product because it doesn’t get “too cold” but is perfect for lowering your pet’s core temperature just slightly. Of all the products that impressed us this year, this is the one that made us say, “Ohhhh.”
Now, if someone would feed me grapes while reciting verse as I relax on my cooling mat – I just might get through this crazy summer…
2. Keeping Water Cold in Water Bowl
Certain water bowls allow water to stay clean and cool even in the hottest summer months. These are a few of our favorite bowls and they aren’t very expensive at all! Alternatively, if your pet knows how to drink from a faucet, you may want to consider some of these…
The Loving Pets Standard No-Tip Dog Bowl is a fantastic option as the air forms a natural insulation and keeps water ice cold. These are some of the best dishes we’ve found.
Another option is the FrostyBowlz Chilled Dog and Cat Bowl is great for serving raw food diets that need to stay relatively cool throughout the day. Use caution, however. Contact with metal can result in burns – limit contact with chain link fences or fence posts and remove metal collars or chains. Metal food and water dishes should be used indoors only during the hottest months of the year.
3. Mist Systems
If your dog must be outside, consider installing a Portable 1/4-Inch Outdoor Mist Cooling System. This can be a lifesaver during the dog days of summer. Mist systems can lower the outdoor temperature by as much as 30 degrees and they are incredibly inexpensive, not to mention, easy to install. Consider putting this around your dog’s outdoor kennel or patio if he absolutely must stay outside. This one retails at $15.87 on Amazon.
Of course, the best bet is just to stay home with your pets. But, we know that’s not always an option. So practice common sense and try not to leave during the hottest part of the day, install a doggy door that will enable your pet to come inside during the day, and be aware that the majority of animals are not equipped for hot weather.