COOL DOGS AND CHILLY KITTIES: TIPS TO KEEP YOUR PET COMFORTABLE IN THE HEAT!
I’m completely useless by the end of the day.
Not so much because I’m fatigued from running around the store (All of us Calvin & Susie workers tend to build quite the endurance. I like to call it the “Calvin & Susie Workout” and I will pit it against a low-level Cross Fit work out any day. I digress…), but because IT’S REALLY REALLY REALLY RIDICULOUSLY HOT OUT lately.
I grew up in Seattle, home of the rain and cold, then moved to St. Louis later in life where while the summers were miserable we got relief from the heat in the form of frigid, blustery winters.
In my 2 years in Hawai’i, I’ve noticed that the heat, though not so intense year round, doesn’t seem to let up the way it suddenly does in the Pacific Northwest or Midwest. You don’t get that first sudden gust of crispy, chilled air one day. The heat here settles, then fades, like someone turning the thermostat down verrrrrrrrrry slowly.
So the heat is a mainstay. This, means I am slug-like by 8pm in my non-air conditioned apartment, and that I sleep above the covers. Fine.
As people, we can cope with the heat, but for our pets this can mean an entirely different thing. Fluffy or Fido can’t just walk over to the fridge and grab a cold drink. Spot or Stripe can’t decide to crank the A/C (if you have it) if they get too toasty. Wookie or Whiskers can’t tell us if they are overheating.
Our pets have to rely on us to be vigilant about their hot weather well-being.
So how can you help your dog or cat stay cool and comfy this summer, fall, and — let’s face it, it’s Hawai’i — winter?
Here are some tried and true tips that we like and we think you will too!
Water, Water, Everywhere!
To some this may seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes we need a reminder to put keep water available everywhere for our pets. And I do mean EVERYWHERE.
Aside from keeping a fresh bowl or two (or three!) in your house, remember that just like you, your dog gets thirsty on the go. Investing in a doggie water bottle or a travel bowl that you can fill up from a faucet or your own bottle can be a lifesaver for your fluffy friend on hot days.
Not to be a downer, but water can literally save your dog’s life. Every year people underestimate how much heat their dogs can take, and thusly dogs die from heatstroke. Dogs handle heat very differently than us. Here is a quick guide to the symptoms of canine heatstroke and how to treat it.
Remember, dogs are walking much closer to the hot pavement than we are. We can feel the breeze, we are wearing shoes, and our chests are generally around three feet away from the ground. Then consider how much lower to the ground a dog is. A dog like a dachshund could be less than six inches from the hot sidewalk! It’s like walking next to an oven! Try doing that for an hour or two!
Doggie water bottles!
Some places to remember to keep water available for your dog include, but are not limited to:
– When hiking
– At the beach
– At the pool
– At cookouts/BBQ’s
– In the car (But this does not mean you can leave your dog in the car on a hot day!)
– At the dog park
– On hot, midday walks
– On a jog/run
– When your dog is playing or hanging out in the backyard
And don’t forget your cats! Cats are very prone to urinary problems, so keeping fresh water available for your cats (indoor AND outdoor) will help keep their systems running smoothly. Plus, don’t forget, on a hot day, without A/C, cats can overheat too!
BONUS Tip: Put ice cubes in your pet’s water! They might love it! (Just watch them to make sure they don’t try to gulp them down, creating a choking hazard.)
Courtesy of Ruffwear, copyright dogblog.ruffwear.net
A lot of our active and outdoorsy customers like the Swamp Cooler, made by Ruffwear.
The Swamp Cooler is a water absorbent vest that you put on your dog much like a harness. Before heading out into the heat, you wet the vest and the process of evaporation keeps your dog cool.
“The Swamp Cooler is designed with three distinct functional layers. First, the outer layer acts as a parasol, blocking the sun, and is highly breathable to assist in the evaporative process and keep air moving through the vest to cool the inner layers. Second, the middle layer is the absorbent layer that holds the water after you soak it. And third, the comfortable inner mesh layer wicks water from the mid-layer to the dog’s body keeping them cool.” Source, dogblog.ruffwear.net
Even long hair dogs can benefit from the Swamp Cooler. One of our most loyal customers, and it’s biggest fans is a large, long haired Golden Retriever!
Ice Cubes and Cold Treats
Water doesn’t have to be boring!
Admittedly, some pets just don’t like to drink a lot of water (just like people). But you can help them keep cool by giving them cold, frozen treats.
We sell locally made, Icy Pooch Pops at the store, which are basically doggie popsicles! They are a tasty, healthy way to treat your dog on hot days.
Icy Pooch Pops
Both cats and dogs can benefit from Honest Kitchen Ice Pups.
Made with “Dehydrated chicken, turkey, whey, dandelion, asparagus, watercress, honey and parsley”, Ice Pups are a “powdery mix” that only requires that you add water and freeze or chill!
Both Icy Pooch Pops and Ice Pups are treats you can feel good about giving your pet, and will also help them beat the heat.
And for a longer-lasting cold water on the go, freeze some water in a Tupperware or Tupperware-like container. On a hike or in a hot car it will start to melt, but the water will still be very cold. The water also won’t slosh around in the car as much. If the ice doesn’t melt enough for a drink, just pour some water in the icy bowl. Et voila! Delicious cold water for your pooch!
(NOTE! If your pet is suffering from heat stroke DO NOT douse them in ice cold water. “…this will close the skin pores, shrink the skin’s surface vessels and can exacerbate the heat stroke. It can lead to shock or even cause hypothermia.” Use cool or temperate water to wet your pet down. If your pet suffers an episode of heat stroke be sure to take them to the vet after they are stabilized.)
You know it’s IMPOSSIBLE to sleep or get comfy when it’s too hot out? Your pet feels the same way!
A cooling mat may be the answer to your pet’s dreams!
Cooling mats for cats and dogs (though if you get one for your cat make sure it’s puncture proof or that your cat won’t scratch it, you don’t want cooling gel or water leaking from the mat!) work either by pulling the heat from your pet’s body or by using water inside a mat to moderate body temperature.
Either way, heat sensitive pets may greatly benefit from a cooling mat, to give them a good night’s sleep.
Gel cooling mat by Eco Green
When To Walk
On your day off, a midday hike on a sunny day up the Makapu’u Point Trail might sound like TONS of fun (note the teeny tiny hint of sarcasm because the last time I did this I got myself burnt to a crisp in the noon time sun), but to your dog this sounds like a little less fun.
As I mentioned before, dogs regulate their body temperature differently than humans, therefore making it harder for them to cool off as quickly or effectively in very hot and humid weather. This goes double for “flat faced” dogs like Pugs or French Bulldogs, as their breathing (and cooling system) can become impaired.
When in doubt, leave your dog at home.
Instead try to walk your dog, or go for your hikes with them, early in the morning or at dusk (though I don’t recommend hiking a wooded trail at dusk either!). These cooler hours will be easier on your dog, thus ensuring that everyone will enjoy the outdoor adventure!
Our very own Emma with a block of ice!
So though we may transitioning into fall, remember that it’s still hot out (like you could forget). And if it’s hot for you, it’s much hotter for your pets.
So the next time you reach for that iced tea, lemonade or cold brew, think of your pet and perhaps inquire if they too, would like an icy treat.
Wear Sunscreen, and stay cool!
~Your Loyal Calvin & Susie Blogger
As always, check with your vet before making any changes to your pet’s diet or body care. The Calvin & Susie Blogger always researches to the best of her ability, but she is not a vet. This blog is not in any way meant to replace veterinary advice or care. When in doubt always ask a vet.
NOTE: All images used in this blog are pulled from the brand manufacturer’s website and are products that Calvin & Susie, as of the date of publishing, sells in the store. Items represented in this blog are highlighted in which to advertise the merchandise Calvin & Susie carries and sells. Any additional photos are property of Calvin & Susie.