Tips for keeping your furbabies cool
By Jenny Anderson
We all need to make an effort to keep cool during these hot summer months.
Many techniques we use ourselves also are effective for pets. For example, daily walks should be early morning before the sun bakes every surface, making it dangerous for tender paws. Avoid walking a dog during the hottest portion of the day. Doggie booties can be used to protect tender paws if necessary, but please walk either before sunrise or after sunset. Mornings are best because it’s the coolest time. If your dog does become overheated, use a couple towels soaked in cold water. Apply to legs and feet, the groin area, and around the neck.
Always carry extra water and a portable dish when traveling by car. Never assume cracking a window will allow enough air to keep an animal cool in a vehicle. All too often we still see animals left in hot vehicles. Call 911 immediately if you observe this. State law allows breaking into a vehicle to rescue a child or a pet left in a life-threatening situation.
A shaded wading pool can be a wonderful source of enjoyment for dogs. Dogs and cats do not sweat in the same way humans do. Their foot pads sense the heat. When an animal can cool its feet, it will feel refreshed. Dogs (cats, too) will pant when overheated, and a cool drink of water will help. Just a few ice cubes in drinking water really help make it more refreshing.
Cool treats are another option. Either homemade or commercially prepared doggie “ice cream” is a refreshing and tasty treat for dogs. Leftover rotisserie chicken can be combined with a few other ingredients to make a nutritious, cooling snack. Simply take unseasoned chicken pieces and skin and combine with: a few tablespoons of broth, nut butter, and a veggie of choice. Combine using a blender and pour into ice cube trays. Then just freeze and save in a plastic bag. Pull out one or two for a refreshing treat. Another frozen treat, one suitable for both cats and dogs, is simply combining chicken broth with a small morsel of chicken. Put a piece of meat with broth in each ice cube tray compartment and freeze. Pets will cool themselves by licking the icy treat.
There are many other “keep cool” options we can employ in pet-friendly households. These include raised platform beds, misters in outside patio areas, cooling vests, cool chew toys, and plentiful cool water placed throughout the home. There is a cooling pad which is activated by the dog’s weight and recharges when not in use. It folds for easy storage.
If a dog is housed in an outside kennel, provide plenty of shade and make sure the water supply cannot be knocked over. Dogs often tip a bucket over when trying to keep cool. I don’t recommend keeping pets outside during our long, hot summers, especially when the monsoon storms arrive. They can survive, but life can be pretty uncomfortable for them.
Some dogs enjoy swimming, which provides exercise and the opportunity to cool off. Smart pet parents always introduce pets to water gradually, when encouraging swimming, beginning in shallow water. People should never force furry companions into water if they resist swimming. A post-swim rinsing rids fur of impurities, salt, or chlorine which can cause skin irritation.
Because we’re in the middle of another long, hot summer, it may seem we just can’t get a break from the heat. This means pet lovers must be especially vigilant in keeping our four-legged pals cool. If you suspect an animal companion is suffering from heat stress or exhaustion, call a veterinarian immediately.
The Western Arizona Humane Society is open Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., with kennel hours 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Call 855-5083 for details. To find lost pets, call 855-4111. View animals found at lhcpd.com.