Warm and humid weather, and our pets.

If you have been outside today, you know where we got the inspiration from this week’s post….OUTSIDE!
In our part of the world, in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, very warm and humid weather is expected all week :

Heat is an important topic, which we understandably covered last summer: http://www.ovenbakedtradition.com/en/interesting/too-hot-for-our-pets

Among other things, you will learn from this post that cats or dogs do not sweat like we humans do. To evacuate heat, dogs pant, while cats choose to lick their fur to cool down their body temperature.

Did you know that sweating, panting or fur licking all work in the same way to evacuate eat?
Through evaporation!

(If you are curious, water (or saliva, or sweat) uses the body heat to evaporate, hence relieving the body from his own produced heat.)

And do you know which physic phenomenon is perturbed in humid weather?
Evaporation!

(If you are curious: The air is already packed with water when it is very humid outside, leaving no room for extra water from the body)

So, are our pets sensible to the humidity index like we are?

Yes, very much so, and perhaps even more than we are, as the surface from which they can evaporate heat (their mouth or the moist fur) is very limited compared to the surface of our skin, and as their heat evacuation system generates…more heat than ours!

So how can you help your cat or your dog get through our hot and humid summers? Some tips:

1) Give your pet some air! All beings dissipate heat through their body. So basically, all beings have an aura of heat around themselves. An aura that is not so practical when it is already warm outside. Breezes simply relieve us from our own heat by moving it away from us. Breezes also accelerate the evaporation process, a well-appreciated help on a very humid day. Putting a fan in front of an opened window will help create a fresh breeze in your house that all your animals can enjoy. A fan in front of their favorite sleeping locations will also help them stay cool on a warm and humid day.

2) Have some wet and fresh towels, as well as wrapped icepacks available in your pets’ beds. The cooling effect of such attentions is almost immediate, and very effective, even on humid days, as the body heat escapes to warm the cold item through a conduction phenomenon. Conduction is in fact the most effective cooling process on humid days.

3) Let your pet swim! In a lake, in your pool, in a small kid’s pool, in your city’s water fountain (if dogs are accepted), etc., anywhere! By “swimming”, it could only be stepping in a one-foot deep pound…or on wet grass! Your pet’s paws are very efficient at regulating his body temperature; it is in fact the only body part on which your pet has sweat glands.

Swimming has two main benefits: The fresh water immediately cool down the dog’s (or the cat’s, if you have one of the rare cats that enjoy swimming!) body temperature from conduction, plus his wet fur will help him dissipate heat through evaporation (like sweating would, if he could sweat!). You could also leave him a water basin so that he can wet his paws during the day. Make sure to put a towel underneath, tough, as it is unlikely that all the water will stay in the basin..!

4) Treat your pet to air conditioning. Obviously, if you have an air conditioner, regardless of the torrid weather outside, your pet will enjoy a comfortable temperature during the day. A real treat, when the other option is to pant all day long! There is however a down side: Your pet will find the heat particularly brutal when he goes outside – from one extreme to another. A pet (or a human!) that spends his days in an environment with air conditioning might find it harder to acclimate to the heat.

5) Have fresh and cold water available, at all times. To pant or to lick fur, saliva is needed, obviously! Your pet might become dehydrated if you do not provide him with enough water. Drinking water will also help him cool himself, especially if the water is cold enough. You can put a couple of ice cubes before you leave for work, so that the water stays cooler longer.

6) Limit strenuous activities, which produce a lot of heat (“BURN” calories!). Choose to exercise your pet early or late in the day, when the temperature is usually cooler. Walk your pet on the shaded side of the street, an attention that is particularly important for dark dogs (or cats!), which are even more sensible to the heat conduction proprieties of the sunrays. Plan your route so that you pass near water fountains or bring a water bottle with a spray to splash your pet. Water games are obviously a good pick to burn off excess energy on a very hot day, but mind games can also be a lot of fun and tiring.

19 Juin 2012