Tips to Keep Pets (and Energy Bills) Comfortable When It’s Hot Out
You may have heard that you can reduce energy use by as much as 10% simply by setting the thermostat 7-10 degrees higher while you’re away from home during the warm months. This works perfectly – if you don’t have pets.
Like humans, pets can become overheated and that can lead to deadly circumstances. Dogs and cats can have a heat stroke if their temperature exceeds 103 degrees. That can happen easier than you think because dogs and cats normally have a temperature between 99.5-102.5 degrees. They also can’t sweat to release heat from their body and cool off. The best they can do is pant to feel a little bit of relief.
It’s up to us pet owners to protect dogs and cats when heat is a concern. Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to keep pets comfortable and safe while still keeping energy use under control.
Set Your Thermostat With Pets in Mind
You may be tempted to increase the temperature for maximum energy savings while you’re away from home, but if a pet is inside you can’t keep it too high. Anything 80 degrees and above is too warm for dogs. Most cats can handle up to 90 degrees, but that doesn’t mean they’re comfortable doing it. It’s best to play it safe and set the programmable thermostat no higher than 80 degrees when your pets are indoors.
Make Sure They Have Easy Access to Water
Staying hydrated is just as important for pets as it is for us, but giving pets access to water is important for a few other reasons. For one, drinking water can help cool pets off. And because animals pant to release heat, drinking water helps keep the airways moist to aid the process. On hot days you may want to put a few ice cubes in the water to keep it cold for longer.
Keep Fans Running Only Where Pets Hang Out
Because animals don’t sweat, fans aren’t as effective at cooling them off. For humans, the moving air of a fan blows against the sweat on the skin creating a cooling effect called convection.
A fan can have a similar, albeit less noticeable, effect on animals if it is blowing directly on them. Using a fan to move the air can help increase the evaporation of warm air in the pet’s mouth and there’s an element of convection cooling in the ears. But feeling the benefits requires that the pet be right in front of or below the fan.
Use a Dehumidifier
Humidity in the house will make a pet feel less comfortable and raise their temperature even if the air conditioner is on. When the air is humid, panting provides less relief for a hot cat or dog because the warm air in their mouth won’t evaporate as easily. It’s a situation that could cause an animal’s temperature to rise quickly.
If you live in a humid environment or there are humidity issues in your home, use a dehumidifier in rooms where your pets roam. It will help regulate the moisture in the air so that if your pet gets hot they can cool themselves off a little easier.
Give Them a Cooling Mat to Lie On
A cooling mat is a great way to keep pets comfortable while they’re inside or outside. The mat soaks up water that is trapped inside the mat and provides a cool surface for up to three days. There are additional cooling products for pets, like bandanas with built-in ice packs.
Give Pets Shade
If you stand by the window in the sunlight you’ll start to feel warmer instantly. In the winter the warmth is welcome, but during the summer can make a pet go from warm to hot very quickly. Indoors and outdoors you want to make sure your animals have a place in the shade to relax and keep cool. And be mindful of how the sunlight moves throughout the day.
Acclimate Pets to the Heat
As the weather warms up experts recommend that pet owners expose their animals to the hotter temperatures so that they can acclimate. Animals that are outdoors are going to naturally acclimate as the weather changes, but that isn’t necessarily the case for indoor pets that are in a climate-controlled environment.
When pets have been acclimated to the warmer weather the first heatwave isn’t such a shock to the system. But even if you ease your pet into it, it’s still a good idea to avoid having them out running around at the hottest times of the day.
Plan Ahead for Power Outages
In some parts of the country, power outages aren’t uncommon during hot summer months when energy demand peaks. The Humane Society has created a great disaster plan for pets that you can modify for your family.
You can also use smart home technology to get an alert if the temperature increases to a dangerous level while you aren’t at home. That way you at least know if a power outage or malfunction has occurred that could lead to a dangerous situation at home.
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