Thursday, July 1, 2010
By Linda Cole
Air conditioning is a blessing and a curse during the dog days of summer. It seems like they break down on the hottest days. And not every pet is lucky enough to live in an air conditioned home. As responsible pet owners, we need to be mindful of how higher temperatures affect our pets, and when the air goes silent or you don't have air conditioning, we still need to provide relief for our pets. So how can we keep our pets cool without air conditioning? Read on.
Since we don't wear fur coats like our pets do, it's essential to pay close attention to them when hot weather rolls in. Make sure outside pets have access to adequate shade and fresh water. Shaded areas change as the sun makes its daily run across the sky. To help keep your pet cool, pay attention to areas in your yard that have the most shade for the entire day.
Make sure water containers are placed where your pet can't tip them over. Spill proof bowls can help but aren't always foolproof. The best solution is a specially designed water bowl that's made to connect directly to a garden hose. A pressure valve controls the amount of water in the bowl. When it gets below a certain level, the valve opens allowing water to refill the bowl. This way, your dog has access to fresh water that's cooler than water in a bowl heated by the sun.
Dogs have their own natural cooling system. Panting helps them cool down, but when the weather heats up, they need help to stay cool. Even cats will pant on an especially hot day. You know it's hot if your cat is panting. Outside cats can usually find a cool spot out of the heat, but it's important to know where your kitty is so you can keep an eye on them.
A child’s wading pool is a great way for an outside dog to find some cool relief from the heat. Make sure the pool is in the shade, and only put enough water in to wet the underside of the dog unless you're able to supervise. And never allow your pet to swim in a swimming pool unsupervised.
Fresh water is essential. Keeping an inside pet cool without air conditioning isn't that difficult. Make sure to keep water bowls filled with fresh, clean water. It's important for pets to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Cats are more apt to drink fresh water over day old water that's been sitting around. You can add ice cubes to the water as the temperature climbs. Ice cubes seem to be interesting to cats, and they'll check out their water to investigate those strange things floating in it.
Use fans. I like using pedestal fans because they're up away from the pets, and you can set them to oscillate which helps distribute air around an entire room. I also use two of the wind machine fans that sit on the floor. Both the dogs and cats camp out in front of them when it's really hot. You can also put ice cubes or a block of ice in a big bowl in front of a fan. This helps cool the air as the fan melts the ice. Window fans set so they are blowing out can help circulate air throughout a house. Close all of the windows except for one or two. The window fan will pull air back into the house through the opened windows.
Spray them down. You can help keep pets cool by spraying their paws, legs and around their neck with water. You can also take an ice cube wrapped in a paper towel and rub it along their neck, down their back, legs and over their paws. Cats appreciate this as much as dogs.
Keep curtains and window shades closed during the hottest part of the day. One of the best ways to keep pets cool without air conditioning is by keeping the hot sun out of the house to begin with.
Reconsider the crate. It's difficult to keep a pet cool without air conditioning when they’re enclosed in a crate. If you have to keep your dog confined, you'll need to make sure the crate is large enough for him to comfortably move around in without spilling his water. He'll need his own fan as well. A better solution is to find an area in the home where he doesn't have to be confined. You could also check to see if there are doggie daycares in your area, or someone who could pet sit while you're away.
Keeping your pet cool in the summer heat is an important part of responsible pet ownership. Know your pet and how well they deal with heat. Some pets do better than others. Heat stroke is a possibility if they get too hot. Most pets do just fine in hot weather as long as they have plenty of water, shade and air movement, especially inside pets. Just remember – if you're hot, so are your pets.
Read more articles by Linda Cole