Keeping Your Dog or Cat Cool – Should You Worry?

During hot weather many pet owners worry about their pets overheating. Should those of us that are worry warts about the comfort of our pets be concerned? I decided to do a little research, get the facts and then share them with you.

How would your dog keep cool if you weren’t around?

If you weren’t around to protect your dog, he would rely on his tongue as the main method of keeping cool. He also has other physiological mechanisms that kick in naturally to help keep him cool. He would also drink plenty of water to replenish that evaporation that takes place when his tongue is hanging out to cool. He would probably be less active during the heat of the day and seek a shady place to lie until things cooled down. He would probably also eat less.

How would your cat keep cool if you weren’t around?

When it’s too hot for a cat her paws will perspire, she will breathe rapidly or pant and she will lick her fur. She will find the coolest shadiest place possible and hole up there until it’s cooler.

Should you give your pet a haircut?

A rule of thumb for dogs is as follows: If your dog has double coated fur such as that of a Border collie or Samoyed, the answer is no. These dogs have fur designed to protect them from both the heat and the cold. Misty, my Yorkshire terrier gets a haircut when it gets hot to help keep her cool, but she has hair, not fur. You might consider also cutting the fur of thick coated fur with short snouts such as the Pomeranian.

A rule of thumb for cats:

Leave their fur where it is.

If you do decide to cut your pet’s fur short for summer, make sure you don’t cut it so short that they can get sun burnt. Yes, dogs and cats sunburn just like we do. Ears and noses are particularly vulnerable anyway. If you cut their fur/hair too short, you can add to the problem.

Should you wet your dog or cat down?

Some dogs love the water and will willingly run through a sprinkler and dive in a lake or stream. Lori’s Australian Sheppard loves the

water and never misses a chance to submerge herself. Other dogs hate it with a passion. Misty, my Yorkshire terrier, will wander into a body of water up to her knees. That’s it. She won’t go an inch deeper. Some dogs tend to be more temperature sensitive than other dogs. Misty’s a pretty hardy little girl, but my other Yorkie, not so much. She also didn’t go swimming and would turn into a Popsicle if I got her wet. I called her my 70 dog. Anything over 75 degrees and she was too hot; anything less than 65 degrees and she was freezing.

For dogs that don’t like water and for cats that rarely enjoy water, I would use a wet towel and rub it over their fur too cool them down on hot days. Ebony, my cat, hates that, but he just has to suffer a little. Better a little kitty mortification than risk a heat stroke.

What to do for your dog and cat in hot weather:

  • Animals acclimate to the climate where they live. If you live in a cool climate, take extra precautions if you take your dog or cat to a hot climate. If it’s a short visit, you aren’t going to be there long enough for them to acclimate. You’ll have to keep them cool.
  • Bring them inside during the hottest part of the day.
  • Wet their fur down using either a hose or wet towel (I strongly suggest using the wet towel on your cat unless you want to get shredded.)
  • Never leave your dog or cat in the car in the sun even with the windows rolled down.
  • Some dogs need a higher protein and fat diet during hot weather. Check with your vet.
  • Don’t walk your dog during the heat of the day. They will tag along just to be with you even though they should be lying in a shady spot waiting for it to cool.
  • Watch for signs of overheating and get your dog or cat cooled off.
  • If your dog or cat starts to vomit, has diarrhea, a red mouth, excessive panting or drooling are all symptoms of heat stroke. Get your dog or cat cooled off immediately. Submerge in cool water (not cold) or cover with cool wet towels then head to the vets. Heat stroke is life-threatening. Dogs and cats with short snouts are at most risk. Examples among dogs are Pomeranians, pugs, and bull dogs and Persian and Himalayan cats.


Now you know everything I know about the subject. I have loads of fun with Misty and Ebony, my cat, and I really want to keep them as comfortable and safe as possible. All our goddesses out there who know the joy of dog and or cat pals now know about hot weather care. There’s no worry and no stress involved when you know what to do.

Now go have fun and relax.

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