Hot Dogs & Cool Cats

            Your pet may appreciate a shady dog house on a hot summer’s day, but simply providing shade is not enough to keep your pet safe from the stifling heat.  Walk into your garage during the hottest part of the day--- since the garage is shady, why isn’t it very cool in there?  Because there isn’t enough air circulation to give you that “cool” feeling.  Does your pet’s dog house or other outdoor shady spot provide enough air circulation to keep him cool?

            If your pet isn’t using the dog house during the hottest part of the day, then you probably have your answer—his shady spot is still too hot!  One easy option is to freeze water jugs and put them in the dog house or somewhere shady. If your pet gets too hot, he will go lay against the cool water bottle. 

            Many pets prefer to rest in the flower bed on hot days. They’ve found a great place to keep their cool.  To keep your cool and save your landscaping, try removing the floor of the dog house so that your pet rests on the cool ground.  Soft dirt is as comfortable as a blanket to most pets, and it is much cooler in the summer time!  If you don’t want the dog or cat sleeping on the ground, then get them an elevated bed, so that their body heat is not trapped against the floor of the house.

            In terms of design, a dog house with a higher peak allows for hot air to escape up and away from your dog—so get one with an “attic.” Building the floor 3-4 inches off of the ground will also help your pet stay cool.  There are even air conditioning units available for your pet’s house! 

            Every summer, local veterinarians see pets who have life threatening heat stroke.  In some cases, this occurs in the old pet who is too “creaky” to get up and move to a shady spot.  In other cases, heat stroke effects the puppy or kitten who didn’t have enough sense to find a cool place for their afternoon nap.

            Dogs and cats are good at staying warm, but they’re not very good at keeping cool.  Of course, long haired pets have an extra layer of insulation that makes it more challenging for them to lose body heat.   Short-nosed dogs and cats also are prone to overheating, because their panting is not very efficient.  Panting takes a lot of work, and a dog or cat can actually overheat themselves by panting while they were trying to cool off!

            If you can’t keep your pet indoors during the heat of the day, then you may need to place some water misters or fans near their favorite outdoor spot.  Water misters are reported to cool the air by up to 30 degrees.   When it’s one hundred degrees outside, don’t you wish it was seventy degrees instead?  Combine a water mister with a fan, and you have a very comfortable and safe place for your pet relax for the day.

            However, make sure that your pet can ‘get away’ from the fan and water misters if he wants to—we don’t want your pet to get too cold. But that’s a different article . . .


Please feel free to distribute this article (at no charge) via all media— all we ask is that you give credit to the author Dr. Jon Klingborg. You will find him at the best veterinary hospital in Merced, California– Valley Animal Hospital.  and Copyright 2015 by Jon Klingborg, DVM