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Keeping Pets Cool

Keeping pets cool is not just kind; it’s crucial.

• When the temperature rises, all pets are at risk for heat stroke.
• Some pets are particularly susceptible. Brachycephalic breeds—those with a “pushed-in” appearance—are inefficient at panting. These breeds include Himalayan and Persian cats, Boston terriers, Boxers, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Pekingese, Chinese shar peis, and shih tzus, among others.
• Obese pets are at risk; as are those dogs and cats with a thick hair coat.
• Dogs, cats, rabbits, and birds don’t sweat through all over skin as we do. They get rid of excess heat by panting, and sweating through their foot pads.
• Never leave your pet unattended in a vehicle.
o Cracking the window won’t make a difference, and air conditioning units can fail.
• If external temperature was 72 degrees, the internal vehicle temperature could reach 117 degrees within 60 minutes.
• Cooling the vehicle before you turn off the AC? A study found that a vehicle consistently reached ambient temperatures within five minutes of the AC being turned off and then would heat up at a similar rate to non-air-conditioned cases.
• Keep your pet hydrated
• Make sure the water container is full of clean, cool water.
• Close the drapes to keep out the sun. Turn on the air conditioning. If you don’t have AC and there is a breeze, open windows for cross ventilation. Turn on fans.
• Wait until it’s cooler before you exercise your pet.
• Make sure the cages for your birds or pocket pets are out of any sunlight streaming through the windows.
• Make sure the room your rabbit is in has shade. A circulating fan will help cool the room, but make sure the fan cord is protected so the rabbit cannot chew on it.
• Don’t shave or trim your dog, unless you first talk with your veterinarian. A coat can keep a dog warm in winter and may actually keep it cooler in summer and prevent sunburn.
• If you suspect your pet is overheated, provide them with small amounts of cool water or ice cubes to lick, get them in the shade, and stop exercising. Apply cool, wet cloths to the feet and around the head.
• Do not soak the entire body—if the temperature drops too quickly, the pet can become hypothermic.
• Get your pet in to a veterinary emergency clinic ASAP even if they seem OK after cooling down.”

Maureen Blaney Flietner, an award-winning freelance writer, photographer, and artist, kept her home thermostat at 65 degrees summer and winter because it was Tony the dog’s preferred temperature when he got older.