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We’re. So. Excited!
Summer is here.
You probably have your Skechers boot and map ready for the trail you’ll be hiking.
You look forward to the feel of the warm beach sand between your toes. Or maybe you’re the laidback, grab a drink, picnic with friends and discuss, kind of person.
Whatever it might be, you have plans.
Well, that’s fantastic because this article is about keeping your pet animals cool in the summer. So they can enjoy the activities that you love with you, or at the very least, make it through summer without suffering a heat stroke.
So… how do you keep the animals in your care cool this summer?
1. Offer fresh water throughout the day.
Make sure that your pet has plenty of fresh, cool water in large water containers.
Be sure they have access to numerous sources of freshwater in case they accidentally step in one, or it becomes too dirty or warm.
The containers should be in a shade, away from direct sunlight and reflections. Check the temperature of the water every hour or two, to ensure it isn’t too warm to be of use.
Sometimes you might have to change the water several times on a very hot day. A neat little trick is to add some ice cubes or a big block of ice in the water to keep its temperature low.
This small step can encourage cats, dogs, and other animals to drink. And will go a long way in keeping them cool and healthy during the summer.
Many animals regulate their body temperature through their feet. So if your cat, dog, ferret, poultry and caged birds seem to be in discomfort, try misting water onto their face or wetting their feet.
Do not soak a bird’s feather with water, it often causes birds to go into shock.
2. Provide a cool shade.
Many animals such as chickens, cats, birds, and reptiles, will snooze in the early morning or late evening sun until they get too hot, then they’ll retire to a shade.
Ensure your pet has a couple of properly shaded spots it can retreat too when the sun’s heat becomes unbearable.
Remember the sun moves, so make sure the shade protects them all day long.
You might occasionally find your cat, dog, or ferret resting on the kitchen or bathroom floor tile.
Pets gravitate towards such materials when they’re hot because these materials are often many degrees cooler than the room temperature.
Do not leave any animal in a glass building, greenhouse, garage, vehicles, caravans, and conservatories in warm weather. Most animals can overheat and die in these hot environments.
3. Improve air circulation for indoor pets.
The air warms up pretty fast when it is not circulating.
Opening the windows so the air outside can replace the one inside goes a long way in keeping animals cool.
If the breeze isn’t moving fast enough to offer any cooling effects, you can get a small box fan to keep the air in motion. Make sure to place it close to the window, so the air outside is forced indoors.
If your house isn’t air-conditioned, try this simple hack. Place two or three frozen water bottles in front of the fan to cool the air as it bounces off of the bottles.
However, this hack alone cannot perform the job of an air conditioner.
If your air conditioner is faulty, you should fix it now that summer hasn’t shifted into full gear. Or, you can purchase a portable air conditioner for a small room.
4. Don’t over-groom your pet.
A well-groomed coat will help your dog and cat stay cool this summer, however, don’t overdo it.
There’s a debate whether trimming cat and dog’s coats helps keep the animals cool during summer or not. Both sides have valid points.
However, it seems we’ve forgotten that some of these animals used to go through all the seasons without our help while they were in the wild.
You might think that shaving your double-coated dog’s hair or cat’s fur is a kind gesture. But, doing so might increase their likelihood of getting sunburns.
Grooming all year round is very important and keeps your pet’s coat from tangling/matting. However, these animals have a natural way of altering their bodies according to the season.
It’s best to use a FURminator deShedding on your pet’s coat to remove hair that’s been shed off, instead of shaving their coat.
If shaved, growing it back in the summer can cause pets to get even hotter. Especially double-coated dogs, since their topcoat helps prevent sunburn.
I’ll show you how you can prevent sunburn further down.
5. Keep things clean.
Wash out jugs, buckets, and water bowls weekly. Lots of animals will not eat if their bowl or water jug is unclean.
Weekly cleaning will encourage them to eat and drink more. Besides that, this also reduces the likelihood of your animal falling sick when the heatwave starts.
6. Offer ice.
Ice cubes have lots of uses other than floating in your glass of martini.
If your pet spends most of the day alone, you can offer it two bowls of water. One with ice cubes and the other without ice, in case the bowl with ice gets too cold to drink.
You can also invest in a cooling mat or wrap a frozen drinking bottle in a towel and place it where your pet likes to lounge.
7. Don’t rely on a fan but use it anyway.
Pets handle heat differently from how humans do.
Pigs, for instance, do not have sweat glands, dogs and cats sweat through their feet, and ferrets do not have well-developed sweat glands.
Fans do not cool these animals as effectively as they do us, humans. However, you should still run the fan anyway, the minimum it’ll do is push the hot air out of the barn or animal shelter.
For indoor animals such as cats, dogs, and ferrets that do not swear on their skin, you can mist their skin with cool water and let the fan blow off the water.
That’s basically how sweat glands help us stay cool.
Keep pigs, chickens, ducks, and goats cool too. These animals do not sweat (except goats), and pigs are very susceptible to heat since they have so much fat.
Plus, they have smaller lungs which limit their ability to release heat by panting.
If you have to hose down your pig, start at the rump. Starting at the head messes with their internal temperature and can lead to shock or death.
If you have a pet duck, provide it fresh clean water and tasty treats. You’ll have to give ducks a pool to swim in, especially on a very hot day.
Make sure to change the water frequently because, well, ducks are ducks, they aren’t very neat animals.
8. Avoid small, enclosed spaces.
Before locking sheds and greenhouses, make sure no animals are hiding or napping in there.
Cats, ferrets, and dogs can sneak in there to sleep in a shady spot.
It’s best to check before trapping them in since these structures get hot when the sun is high.
The same goes for cars. An animal left in a car, even for a moment, can suffer severe heatstroke.
On a warm day, a car’s temperature can reach as high as 50 degrees or more.
And… that’s with the windows partially open for fresh air, now imagine a sealed window.
If you see a parked car with a dog in it, and the dog seems to be in distress, try to get the owner’s attention ASAP.
If that doesn’t work, copy the car’s model, make, and license plate number. Call the police and report what you see.
In some states, you are protected by ‘good Samaritan’ laws if you can get some witnesses to back up your assessment of the dog’s state before breaking the window to let it out.
However, you can’t just waltz out of there, you’ll have to wait for the authorities to show up.
9. Watch out for signs of heatstroke.
Watch out for symptoms of heatstroke, such as excessive panting, fever, vomiting and lack of coordination, lethargy, drooling, rapid heartbeat, insatiable thirst, dark tongue, collapse, or unconsciousness.
If you see a dog or cat exhibit some of these signs of heatstroke, move the animal away from the sun and put a call through to your vet immediately.
Gradually lower the animal’s body temperature by providing drinking water, use a towel or ice pack to wipe its head, neck, and chest.
Wipe the animal’s underbelly with cool water (not chill) and try to keep it calm.
10. Make sure the ground isn’t too hot to step out.
Even in the summer some animals, such as dogs and horses, still need to be exercised.
I recommend doing this very early in the morning and late in the evening when the environment is cooler.
This will prevent a lot of problems, such as sunburns, heat stress, and injured paw pads.
Many animals, such as dogs, pant when their body temperature is high.
Panting isn’t very effective when humidity rises, so just stick to early morning and late evening walks. You wouldn’t go jogging in the afternoon, would you?
If you have to walk a dog on pavement, concrete floors, or even sand during summer, always test the temperature.
Place your hand or barefoot on the floor for 5 seconds. If it’s too hot for you, then it’s not safe for your dog’s paws. A better option is to walk your dog on shady or grassy routes.
When going on long walks, pack plenty of cold water.
Take lots of breaks so your dog can cool down and make sure your dog doesn’t run or walk too fast when the weather is hot.
Remember, you have sweat glands to help you cool down, your dog doesn’t.
so watch out for signs of a problem, such as darkened pad, licking or chewing at feet, redness or blisters, missing part of the pad, limping or refusing to walk.
Get your dog a paw protector to keep his paw pad from cracking.
11. Remove toxic plants.
It isn’t usual for animals to eat lots of random things.
You should do everything you can to stop dogs from eating lots of random junk when they’re outside the house.
The reason is that many of the things animals eat can be toxic, especially household plants – including those with beautiful summer bulbs.
Lilies, for instance, are very toxic to cats. You can prevent the cat from going close to your lilies.
However, if you want your feline friend to be completely safe it’s best to avoid planting lilies and others such as Ivy, Hydrangea, and Gladiolas.
To be on the safe side, always check online or with your vet to see if the plant you want to grow is pet-safe.
Here’s a list of 42 plants that are toxic to cats.
If your pet is drooling, vomiting, lethargic, or having seizures after eating something outside, visit the vet immediately. The vet will have a better idea of what they’re treating if you go along with bits of chewed-up matter.
12. Annoying little pests.
Flea and tick populations usually peak in the warmer months of the year.
They bite and cause itchiness which adds to the discomfort your pet might be feeling due to the heat.
13. Look out for the little ones too.
Small critters, such as guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, and birds, are vulnerable to heat stress.
Do not leave these animals outside during very hot weather.
If that’s not possible, you can soak a towel in cold water and drape their cage with it.
Make sure the animal’s cage is not receiving direct sunlight, else you have to move it or cover it with something to absorb the heat and radiation – just move the cage.
Offer the animal a bottle of frozen water to lean on, so it can regulate its body temperature.
14. Start now to prepare for emergencies.
Hot weather comes with many risks, such as fires and summer storms.
Have a backup plan now, before a summer storm cuts the power supply to your home.
It’s a good idea to have things in place so you can deal with heat stroke and other temperature-related problems if the power goes off.
Prepare yourself and your pet(s) in case you have to evacuate because of a fire.
Pack an emergency kit and keep somewhere accessible. What’s the worst that could happen? No fires, you can continue using your supplies.
Here’s a useful resource for planning pet emergencies.
Remember, keeping the animals cool this summer is your duty since the animals in your care depend on you to keep them comfortable and safe.
These few tips will set you up for changes that accompany summer. And will help you and your animals make it through summer in one piece.