Summers are hot enough as is, and a heat wave can make venturing outside almost unbearable. When temperatures begin to climb, pets turn to you for a way to keep cool. Heat waves make it more difficult to exercise and stay hydrated, ultimately increasing the risk of hyperthermia and heat exhaustion in dogs and cats.
To survive the heat, pets need more than a drink of water. Dangerously high temperatures and heat domes call for extra measures like cooling mats, shady spots and nighttime walks. Check out these helpful tricks that can protect your cat or dog during a heat wave.
- Place water bowls around the home: Increased access to water becomes even more important during a heat wave. Keep bowls of cool, fresh water in rooms where your pet spends most of their time. The bowls should be easy to find and far from heavy foot traffic. Water bowls in the yard are a must for outdoor cats and play sessions with your dog. Choose deep bowls with a small circumference so the water takes longer to evaporate.
- Give your pet a cooling mat: Cooling mats provide a comfortable resting spot for cats and dogs when temperatures start to rise. They’re filled with a nontoxic gel that absorbs excess body heat and helps stabilize your pet’s internal temperature. When your pet leaves the mat, the fabric releases captured heat to regain its cooling capabilities. Cooling mats are portable, so you can use them around the house or on your outdoor adventures.
- Provide outdoor shady spots: Shade can offer some reprieve from the beaming sun. Help your furry friend cool off by increasing access to shaded spots throughout the yard. If your property doesn’t have tree coverage, set up a large umbrella, lean-to or another form of shelter that allows your pet to step out of the sun. When you go for walks, pick a route that casts as much shade as possible on the path. This is especially important if you walk on pavement, because hot asphalt can burn your pup’s paw pads.
- Avoid peak hours of the day: Limit time outside between the late morning and early afternoon. Midday is when the sun is at its peak, and the hot temperatures increase your pet’s risk of heat stroke. If you have an indoor-outdoor cat, consider keeping them inside at the hottest part of the day, especially during a heat wave. Schedule walks for early morning or later in the evening so your pup can enjoy slightly cooler temperatures. If you have to go out at peak hours, break long walks into several shorter ones.
- Circulate indoor air with fans: Air conditioning is an easy solution to keep pets cool. Unfortunately, not all pet parents have an air conditioner in their home. Cool down your living space by setting up fans where your pet likes to hang out. Proper circulation prevents the air from growing stagnant, which can alleviate the discomfort of a heat wave. This trick gives the illusion of lowering temperatures when you don’t have access to an air conditioner.
- Apply cool towels: Cool, wet towels are another easy way to help pets beat the heat. Soak a towel with cool water and place it on your pup’s back, on their underbelly or between their thighs. As the water evaporates, it takes the heat with it! Frozen towels also work well. However, make sure the towel is only damp when you put it in the freezer, or else it can get too hard!
- Bring a water bowl on hikes: Dogs need a way to rehydrate when they’re far from home. Pack two water bottles for long hikes—one for you and one for your canine companion. Make the water easy to drink by pouring it into a collapsible water bowl. These bowls are made of flexible silicone so they can fit in your bag. Many come with carabiners that clip onto a backpack. Drinking from a collapsible water bowl is more sanitary than any puddle or stream your pup may find along the trail.
- Get creative with a garden hose: Many dogs go nuts for the garden hose. They can drink the water and splash in it, all while getting out their zoomies on a hot day. Twist on a hose attachment and wave it around the yard. Not only does this water the plants, it’s a cool summertime activity that encourages your pup to exercise! You could also hook up the hose to a sprinkler so your dog can chase the water and run through it. For outdoor cats, attach an automatic water bowl to the garden hose so they have a constant supply of drinking water.
Pets depend on their doting parents to help them beat the heat. They can’t speak to humans, so pet parents have to keep their needs top of mind when the outdoor temperatures reach a critical point. Following these tips will make your pet comfy and cool, even during a heat wave. Remember—if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pet!