Too hot for our pets?

In July, our pets and I are both panting, but for completely different reasons: While we are panting from exhaustion because of much needed vacations, our pets are panting from a constant battle against the hot weather.

Our pets do not evacuate heat through their skin via transpiration like we do. To be more exact, they do, but very, very locally, which is strictly on their paws between their toes, the only place where they have sweat glands. Not very efficient! To regulate and lower their body temperature, they instead resume to panting by which they can exhale a large volume of heat.

A dog panting in hot weather is normal. A dog panting in hot weather looking like it cannot catch his breath is in panic and in risk of heat stroke. A fan can help, but water is better and quicker at cooling a dog down. You can poor some cool water on a distress dog’s neck to bring down its body temperature safely, and quickly.

While cats can also pant to regulate their body temperature, they most often lick their fur to cool themselves. The moist fur acts exactly as sweat on our skin: The water evaporation will bring down the body temperature by dissipating the body’s extra heat.

The sun is your animal’s enemy on a hot day. Make sure that you keep your house cool by closing the curtains and limiting sun rays into your house, especially if you do not have air conditioning. If you are outside with your dog or your cat on a warm day, make sure that your pet can rest in a shaded area as needed.

Wind helps to cool animals down. Your dog or your cat might appreciate a fan next to his bedding on a warm day.

Of course, any physical exercises bring the body temperature up, which is not a desirable consequence on a very hot day. Some mature dogs will moderate their activity level themselves, by walking slower or by taking multiple breaks during their usual daily walks. But some playful dogs, which are most dogs, need help to keep them from overdoing it on a hot day. Some can run right into a heat stroke if their owners do not moderate their physical activity by requesting frequent breaks.

Choosing cooler periods to do those activities will help. Activities later at night or earlier in the morning will make it possible to burn your pet’s excess energy without burning them down. Their health is well worth redesigning their usual daily routine!

During their walks, let your animal step on grass instead of concrete, as it is usually a lot cooler. Make also a point of avoiding asphalt which gets so hot under the sun that it can cause severe burns on your dog’s fragile paws.

Finally, if your dog needs to be outside and is having a hard time dealing with the heat, you can buy him or her a cooling vest like this one:

A wet towel available to them inside the house can also help cool down your cat or your dog if they do not need to be physically active.

Have a great summer!