For many people, summer is the most beautiful season. People throw away their clothes, go swimming, and enjoy cold beer and ice cream to cool off. But how do our little furry friends cope with the heat? They cannot undress and often suffer from high temperatures. You can read here about how you can cool off your dogs and cats in hot summer.
How Do Cats and Dogs Sweat?
Dogs, cats, and other rodents don’t have the ability like us to sweat in order to regulate their body temperature. In fact, these aminals do sweat, but sweat in certain parts of their bodies – the paw pad. This is why you might see some damp paw prints left by your dog or cat on the ground during sweltering hot days. However, The sweat glands on your pet’s paws are not enough to cool off their body in the summer heat.
Dogs rely on panting to regulate most of their body temperature. When they pant, they evaporate the moisture from their tongue and nasal passages, leading to a drop in body temperature. The hotter the weather, the heavier dogs pant. When it comes to cats controlling their body temperature, they often lay down on the cold surface of the ground in order to cool down.
Dogs and cats also rely on vasodilation to help them cool off. Their nose, ears, and other parts of the body are well supplied with blood. In hot Summer, their blood expands, getting the heat out.
Tips for Cooling off Dogs And Cats
At very high temperatures, even panting is far from sufficient. The following tips and tricks will help your dogs or cats to get through a great Summer.
Drink, Drink And Drink!
Dogs, cats and rabbits do not sweat like us, but they lose fluids through panting. Therefore, at a temperature above 20 degrees, it is important to make sure that your pet has enough water to drink. The drinking bowl should therefore be filled with fresh and cool water every day. The water should not be too cold from the refrigerator to avoid stomach aches.
There are many ways you can get your pet to drink enough:
- Set up additional drinking bowls or drinking fountains in the apartment and in the garden to create more drinking opportunities for your dogs and cats.
- If cats cannot be persuaded to drink more, you can try diluted water or broth. Simply mix some wet food such as tuna into the drinking water.
- If possible, avoid dry food for dogs, cats, and other rodents in summer. Instead, feed wet food or fresh fruit or vegetables, which contain much liquid.
- Another trick is to dribble some water on your pet’s paws (whether it’s a cat or a dog). The water is usually licked up and kills two birds with one stone: your pet ingests liquid and the subsequent cleaning produces evaporative cooling from the water on the fur.
Keep It Cool!
Surely there is a cooler place in your apartment too. Be it the basement, the tiled bathroom, or a storage room without a window. Whatever it is, make it accessible to your pet in the summer: put your dog in the coolest place in the house, open the door to the bathroom for the cat so that it can lie down on the cold tiles, or put your rabbit or birdcage in the cold cellar throughout the day. Where you find it pleasantly cool, your pet will also like it.
If you do not have the option or want to create an additional cool spot, there are a few options:
- Place a wet towel or frozen cold packs in the doghouse. The evaporation of the water creates a pleasant cold. Maybe your pet may even lie on it.
- Moisten the fur on the stomach and legs with a wet towel or hands. The evaporating moisture provides additional coolness – just like evaporating our sweat. Another effect: cats, in particular, will then clean themselves and thus increase the cooling effect.
Use Cooling Mats
If you want to prevent wet towels or cool packs from forming puddles in the apartment, the so-called cooling mats are also of help. These mats have a gel inside, which is activated by body contact. Gel cooling mats contribute to pleasant cooling and work without water, electricity, or a battery.
Avoid Direct Sunlight
Although we like to be in the sun for a sunbath, the risk of heatstroke is far too great for our pets. Therefore, the following applies not only to dogs and cats but also to the cages and aviaries of our smaller pets: Avoid direct sunlight!
In summer, a birdcage shouldn’t be placed in front of a window through which the sun shines, nor on the hot balcony. This is also true for the dog blanket or the rabbit hutch.
You should also pay attention to the correct ventilation: leave the windows, curtains and blinds closed during the day. Then it might be a bit dark in the apartment, but this will keep the greatest heat away outside. You should ventilate overnight if possible to take advantage of the cooling of the air.
Serve Ice Cream
The most pleasant dish in summer for us is probably ice cream. Even if most of the dogs shouldn’t eat milk ice cream because they can’t tolerate the sugar or the lactose, you can still serve them ice cream:
- Dogs are allowed to lick a little milk ice from time to time, but that doesn’t mean every day!
- It is better to make ice cubes with freshly cooked chicken broth to lick for dogs and cats. You can easily make this yourself by boiling the chicken breast in a little water, letting the broth cool down, and pouring it into ice cube bags. With the cooked chicken breast, your pet can have a healthy, easily digestible treat for those hot days.
- You can also make ice cream from yogurt and honey for your pet. You can fill it with goodies and then freeze it in the freezer.
You should keep in mind that too much cold in the stomach can cause diarrhea in dogs and cats! And the smaller the animal (small dogs or cats, rodents), the more sensitive to cold it is. Therefore, you should serve ice cream very carefully, especially the first time.
What could be nicer than a cool bath in summer?
Even if you usually cannot inspire cats to take a bath, it may well be that a little splashing water definitely appeals to them in summer. The same applies to rabbits or guinea pigs, who may be happy about a large, flat bowl with a little water in which they can put their paws.
Most dogs, on the other hand, enjoy having their own swimming pool in the garden or jumping into the water!
And you should also make sure that your bird always has a clean and filled-with-water basin available for bathing in summer.
What You Should Absolutely Avoid In Summer
In order not to put additional stress on your animal, there are a few things that you should avoid possibly in hot temperatures.
Tension and Stress
Any kind of stress affects your pet’s circulatory system, causing even more body heat. Therefore, you should avoid any kind of tension and stress in high temperatures. This includes physical exertion, visits to the vet, long car journeys, and new scary situations.
You should also avoid brushing your cat or rabbit for the first time in summer if they are not used to it. Likewise, you shouldn’t force dogs, cats, or guinea pigs to get wet with a damp towel. Because it is even worse for your pet when it is upset than not being cooled.
No Animals In the Car!
It goes without saying, but animals shouldn’t stay in a car, even for a short time in summer! The temperature can rise quickly in a very short time, which is fatal for dogs, cats and especially small rodents!
Not only is it considerably hotter in direct sun than in the shade, but dogs, cats and rabbits with white fur, in particular, are at risk of getting sunburn. This mainly affects the thin skin around the nose and ears, but also other parts of the body.
You should therefore protect your pet companion from direct sunlight or apply sunscreen to sensitive areas.
Do you know why you could endure the heat by the sea? Because it is the slight breeze that makes you feel like it is colder than it actually is.
While the draft is comfortable for us humans, it can easily lead to conditions such as conjunctivitis in animals like cats, rabbits, and birds. Therefore, you should never place a cage in the draft.