Pets in Hot Weather

Unlike people, whose perspiration keeps them cool, pets have hardly any sweat glands at all. They do have sweat glands between their toes, but it's not enough o carry heat away. What they do is pant. Panting helps dispel some heat but it really isn't very efficient, which is why hot weather, for both cats and dogs, is uncomfortable weather. Here are some tips to help your pets stay healthier and happier in the warm summer months.

Even if your pet has a waterbowl the size of a birdbath, chances are he will occasionally kick it over-and then be completely without water. To prevent your pet from going thirsty, provide two bowls of fresh water and always keep them filled. You can also provide a "drip system" attachment to the faucet in addition to the water bowls. By training your dog to lick the end of the drip system, you'll always be assured that they'll have enough water. Pets enjoy the stimulation of licking ice and through that action quenching their thirst and keeping cool. You may want to add ice cubes directly to their water bowls, or freeze a bowl of water for daily use. This technique also works well when taking trips with pets. A wading pool filled with an inch or two of water will give pets a pleasant place to cool off. Dogs often enjoy a cool dip on a warm day. Dogs often dig holes in yards for the insulating coolness they provide and many times, having a wading pool will keep them from digging holes in your yard to cool off in.

Even when you have the windows open, it's often hotter inside the car than it is outside. The best advice is to let your pet lie near the air conditioner vent. You may also want to keep your pet comfortable by giving him a window seat where he can catch a breeze. Make sure the windows are closed far enough to prevent daredevil escapes. Park carefully, remembering that temperatures inside a parked car get oven-hot within just a few minutes. You should never leave your pet inside a parked car. If you must leave him in a car always park the car in a cool, shady spot. Leave two or more windows open to allow air to circulate (but not so wide that he can jump out.) And don't ever leave him very long.

Dogs and cats that play all day during the cool months may find themselves slowing down when it's hot outside. Don't push them too hard during the summer. Be particularly aware of dogs with dark coats as they get hotter faster. Pets don't know their own limits, and can overheat quickly. We have to know when to put the brakes on them. Most dogs and cats will naturally eat less during the summer months, so don't be alarmed if your pets appetite falls off a little bit. Pets don't expend as much energy keeping their bodies warm, so they need less food. When the temperatures rise take your pet to the groomer for a summer haircut. While a long coat may look hot, in many cases the coat helps insulate the pet and keeps him cooler. It's okay to give them a slight trim. Just don't give him a buzz cut unless that's his normal style.

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