As the weather warms up most people start to think about swimming pools, ice cream, long evenings on the porch, and finally getting back to that comfortable summer wardrobe. In addition to these fun things, pet owners need to start thinking about helping their animals stay cool, too. Keeping animals safe in the heat is very important. Since your furry or feathered friends cannot tell you when the heat is making them uncomfortable, pet owners have to think proactively about how to manage the summer temperature before the season sets in. Here are a few tips the team at Pet Overstock have prepared.
Temperature Regulation is Different for Animals
When we humans get warm, our bodies begin to sweat. This light sheen of moisture evaporates, keeping us cool and preventing us from getting too hot. Because humans have relatively little hair covering compared to cats, dogs, and other furry animals most of our body is involved in this form of temperature regulation to one degree or another.
Although many mammals possess sweat glands just like we do, these glands are not exposed to the air in the same way and may not be found in exactly the same configuration as they are on human bodies. Some excess moisture might escape through paw pads but for the most part dogs and cats do not sweat in a comparable manner. This means that they must regulate their body temperature in other ways to stay comfortable when the summer heat arrives. You can provide optimal opportunities for staying cool with just a few simple changes at home.
Designing a Cool Home for Your Friends
Here are a few simple strategies that you can implement as the weather gets warm. Use several of these tips to create a more comfortable living arrangement for you and your pet:
• Identify the coolest rooms in the house. In the northern hemisphere, rooms facing north are usually coolest; in the southern hemisphere, south-facing rooms tend to be cooler. Your pets will naturally be seeking out the coolest places in the house, so make sure that these areas are accessible and safe.
• Use blackout curtains or other heat-deflecting window coverings to keep sunny rooms relatively cooler. These curtains are inexpensive to make or buy. Simply hang them in place of your normal curtains and keep them shut while the sun is up.
• Make sure that fresh, clean water is available at all times. Water can evaporate surprisingly quickly in the heat, so switching to a larger water bowl might be necessary. Keeping water dishes in cool, shady places can reduce the rate of evaporation and maintain water at a pleasant temperature. A gravity pet waterer like those we stock can be a good way of ensuring that plenty of water is available at all times.
• Cooling gel pads can be purchased from well-stocked pet supply stores. These are often inexpensive and can be safely placed in pet beds or on other surfaces that your pet likes to rest on. These pads stay cool to the touch even in warm rooms and will help make animals more comfortable.
• Consider adding small air conditioners or fans to certain rooms. Even if you have central air or ceiling fans, these may not adapt the temperature inside your home enough to keep animals comfortable and safe. Adding a rotating fan or portable air conditioner can help.
Be Sure to Talk With Your Vet
Remember that different animals have very different needs when it comes to staying cool. Elderly animals, very young animals, rabbits, hamsters, rats, mice, gerbils, guinea pigs, and ferrets may require additional climate control measures. Birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish can be especially sensitive to heat, so speak with your vet about keeping your favorite friends safe during the summer.