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How to keep your pet cool in hot weather

Updated on July 4, 2009

Dogs enjoy sleeping belly up in the summer

During the dog days of summer (pun intended!) pets easily can become overheated risking heat exhaustion. Because dogs and cats are unable to sweat as we humans do, they musy resort to panting to cool their system down. Unfortunately, trouble arises when panting is not sufficient because the temperature in the environemnt is the same as the pet's temperature, turning panting into a useless acitivity.

There are several ways owners can keep their dear pets cool this summer. While some are common sense, it all basically comes down to avoiding direct exposure to heat and keeping temepratures acceptable in their enviroment.

For Dogs:

As mentioned, dogs need to pant to cool down. Therefore, owners should ensure that the dog's surrounding areas enables him to efficiently pant. There are some dog breeds that are less tolerant to heat waves because they either come from areas with cold climates or because their facial features make breathing and cooling down difficult (Brachycephalic breeds). Dark colored coated dogs tend to soak up the sun rasys much more than lighter coated dogs, so watch these dogs for signs of overheating. Following are some dog breeds that cannot tolerate heat well.

  • Siberian Huskies
  • American Eskimos
  • Malamutes
  • Newfoundland
  • Bulldogs
  • Pugs
  • Boxers
  • Shar-Peis
  • Boston Terriers

Here are some tips on what to avoid and what to do to in order to keep your dog cool.

-Provide shade

If you own an outdoor dog always make sure your dog has lots of fresh water and shade. Keep the water bowl in a shade area as well. Dogs as humans do not appreciate drinking water as hot as broth. Ensure the bowl is spill proof as well, as it is not unheard of leaving the dog out all day only to come home and find an upside down water bowl and a very dehydrated dog.

-Watch the hours

If your dog is an outdoor dog, if feasible try to at least take him indoors during the afternoon hours when the heat can easily reach into the triple digits.

-Get a kiddie pool

A children's pool can cost less that 20 dollars and provide a summer long time of entertainment for you and your dog. Make sure the water is not too deep for your dog tp prevent drowning.Supervision is a must for petite dogs. Most dogs love water or will learn to love water once they notice how fun it may be. Toss in some toys in the pool, put on a sprinkler and your dog acqua park is open for business!

-Prevent Sunburn

Dogs get sunburn too! Especially those with light or white coats and white ears and muzzles. Dogs as well can get skin cancer. These dogs in particular (and basically all dogs) should stay away from direct sunlight and should not sun bath in that nice sunny spot coming from the behind the window. Never use human sun tan lotion on dogs, it contains Zinc oxide that is harmful if licked off.

-Give a hair cut

Dogs with long hair will greatly benefit and thank you once you give that long hair a nice clipping. If you do not have a good pair of clippers your dog's groomer will be eager to help your pooch get some relief. Make sure your dog still has some hair to protect from the sun rays, basically avoid ''military hair cuts'' in dogs where the skin shows through.

-Know the symptoms

Heat stroke can occur witihin minutes if certain conditions of temeprature are met. Owners should be aware of the symptoms so to take action immediately. Following are symptoms suggesting heat stroke in dogs:

  • -Heavy panting
  • -Difficulty and noisy breathing
  • -Bright red tongue and bright red gums
  • -Tacky saliva
  • -Bloody diarrhea
  • - The presence of ''petechiae'': small pinpoint bleeding under the skin

Treatment for heatstroke can be found here: How to treat heatstroke in dogs.

In cats:

While peope are used to seeing dogs pants, seeing a cat panting with its mouth wide open may look quite disturbing. Cats just as dogs, rely on panting when over heating because cannot sweat other than from their paws. Cats generally do not suffer from the summer heat as much as dogs because they are desert animals, however they are prone to heatsroke as well, especially cats with long hair. While cats cannot be like dogs put in a pool full of water, there are other ways to cool poor kitty down.


If it is really hot turn your domestic long hair into a domestic short hair by getting out those clippers. Cats benefit from a nice hair trim as well. If you like stylish cats ask your groomer for a ''lion cut''. Basically a cute tuft of hair will be left on the tail, there will be hair around the neck forming a mane and at the base of the legs. As in dogs, make sure the cut is not too short, you want some hair to protect the skin.

-Say no to sunbaths

Cats love bathing in the sun right by the window but just as dogs they may get sunburns and even skin cancer. This applies in particular to cats with light skin and pale noses and ears. Keep the blinds closed so the room becomes dark and cool.

-Use a wet sponge

While kitty will not jump in your pool, she will benefit from a wet sponge passed on her head. Most cats will not mind when it is really hot and some may even appear to appreciate it under these circumstances.

-Confine to cool areas

Keep your cat in the basement if it is cooler, or the bath room. Many cats will seek the bathroom on their own because they like to lay down on the cool tiles. It is not unusual to find kitty laying in the bathtub or in kitchen sink.

-Use ice cubes

Keep your cat's water cool by adding ice cubes to it. Cats love drinking fountains and they may be entertained by it.

As seen, there are several ways to help Rover and Snowball keep cool when the mercury rises. It is never a bad thing to practice extra caution  and abide to the better safe than sorry protocol this summer.

Encourage kitty to drink

Petmate Ultra Bubbler Watering System, Medium, Peacock Blue
Petmate Ultra Bubbler Watering System, Medium, Peacock Blue
Encourage your dogs or cats to enjoy cool, healthy water. The Petmate Ultra Bubbler Watering System provides a fun bubbling water effect that will stimulate any pet and make it eager to drink. It automatically replenishes the water level from the transparent reservoir and constantly oxygenates the water to supply a better taste. The fun, stylish design fits any kitchen décor. No filters are needed. An AC power cord is included to generate the exciting bubble effect. The Petmate Ultra Bubbler Watering System measures 12.3 x 10.3 x 14.3 inches and holds up to 1.5 gallons of water.

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