Updated: Oct 29, 2020
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When the weather starts to warm up and the sun finally pokes out from behind the clouds, we start spending as much time outside as we possibly can. Our pets often enjoy spending that time with us. They enjoy it so much, in fact, that they often don’t even let on that they’re overheating before they begin experiencing heat stroke. Check out the tips below to help keep your pets safe, comfy, and cool this summer!
Seek out the shade: It’s the oldest trick in the book, but there’s a reason for that -- it works! Solar radiation makes the air feel 10-15 degrees warmer , so sitting in the shade can help your pet’s body do less work to cool off more quickly.
Make drinking water readily available:
Dogs and cats lose more water by breathing, panting, and sweating (through their foot pads and noses!) when it is warm outside. Help them easily replenish that water by keeping clean bowls full of cool water readily available. If you are concerned that your pet isn’t consuming enough water, try subbing in some canned food for a portion of their kibble during the warmer months to help them consume a little extra water.
Give them some water to cool off in:
Drinking water is necessary, but your pet may enjoy water in other ways as well! Bust out the sprinkler or kiddie pool to give your pet a fun way to cool off this summer. If your pet is hesitant at first, try luring them into the water with treats and/or toys. (Looking for a place for your pup to swim? Check out this list of pet-friendly places in Wisconsin.)
Keep the air flowing:
When your pet is trying to cool off, make sure they are able to get plenty of air flow. Laying in the shade of a tree will help your pet to cool off more quickly than laying in a shaded dog house or crate. Panting helps your pet cool off and a breeze will help speed up that process. Not a windy day? Set up a fan inside so your pet can lay near it.
Get them out of the car:
You’ve likely already seen several posts about pets overheating in cars, but it doesn’t hurt to say it again! A 2005 study showed that regardless of the ambient temperature, a car’s interior can heat up an average of 40°F within an hour.  Keep your pets (and your kids!) out of the car when it is warm out. It’s just not worth the risk!
Keep them off hot pavement:
Much like the inside of a car, pavement can get significantly hotter than the ambient temperature as it absorbs heat from the sun. Pavement will generally be at least 20 degrees warmer than the air.  It can even reach temperatures over 40 degrees warmer than the ambient temperature. While dogs and cats have developed foot pads that are tougher than our feet, if it’s too hot for you to walk barefoot on the pavement, it’s likely too hot for your pet as well. Walk your pet in the early morning and late evening to avoid peak pavement heats. If you need to get your pet exercise during the hottest part of the day, find routes that allow them to spend most of the time on the grass and consider offering their pads a little extra protection with a paw wax like Musher’s Secret or booties.
Provide a cool place to lay down:
While your pet may love that extra cozy, fluffy pet bed during cool weather, it may be too warm during the summer time! When it’s warm outside, consider offering one of the following:
Cooling Bed - This is essentially a doggy water bed! Since water takes longer than the air to warm up, cooling beds are filled with water. As long as the bed is kept out of direct sunlight, it will maintain a temperature lower than the surrounding air.
Damp Towel - Damp towels offer the same properties as cooling beds, but they have the added coolant benefit of evaporation! As your pet lays on the damp towel, the evaporation will help to cool your pet off just like sweat does for us.
Freezing treats in water or sodium free bone-broth can give your pet a yummy, cooling treat AND some extra mental stimulation in one! Kibble, fruits, vegetables, plain yogurt, peanut butter, and more can be frozen for your pets to munch on. Filling an ice cube tray allows you to create multiple treats at once, and freezing treats in Kongs or other toys can make this summer treat last even longer for your pet. A word to the wise: give these treats outside or in a crate to avoid a big mess!
Do you have other ways you keep your pets cool? Share your tips in the comments!
1 Trying to keep cool? Here's how shade, ocean breeze help https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/fl-xpm-2013-07-07-fl-shady-breezy-temps-20130706-story.html
2 Parked cars get dangerously hot, even on cool days, Stanford study finds http://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2005/07/parked-cars-get-dangerously-hot-even-on-cool-days-stanford-study-finds.html
3 Predicting Maximum Pavement Surface Temperature Using Maximum Air Temperature and Hourly Solar Radiation http://onlinepubs.trb.org/Onlinepubs/trr/1993/1417/1417.pdf#page=9
Do Dogs Sweat? https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/do-dogs-sweat/
How Do Cats Sweat? https://www.petmd.com/cat/general-health/how-do-cats-sweat
Keep pets safe in the heat https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/keep-pets-safe-heat