These are general suggestions, and you should adjust them based on the breed of your pet and any special needs it may have.
Compiled by Charlene Bobis
DOGS – In addition to the many tips above, give them drinks of cool (even iced) water, let them play in water if they like, and keep them in the shade. Do not use cooling gel pads on dogs.
CATS – As they only sweat through their paws, and can only cool down by licking themselves, give them access to the bathroom when you’re not home. Use a mix of rubbing alcohol and water to lightly mist their ears and paw pads if they are panting from the heat. You can also cool their fur down by moistening paper towels and gently stroking them with these from the head down their backs, bellies, paw pads, armpits, underthe chin, and outside the ears. Avoid using cooling gel pads as cats can be poisoned by what’s inside.
BIRDS – If they are kept outdoors, consider using an extra roof for their enclosure or cage, and moving them to a shadier area. Birds have no glands and cool themselves off by panting, so provide them with fresh water daily. You can also mist the plants and area near their cages daily; some breeds of birds like being sprayed with water. Watch out for signs of heat stress, which varies from breed to breed. If you can handle your bird, keep the featherless area under their wings clean. Ideally, their cages should be cleaned daily.
HAMSTERS, RABBITS, MICE, AND OTHER SMALL FURRY PETS – Keep their cages clean so that flies and maggots won’t be attracted by the mess. Check if your particular pet can have its coat trimmed if it has long fur. Ensure their cages or enclosures are not in direct sunlight at any time of the day. Provide fresh drinking water daily. Some of these pets will appreciate moisture-rich fruits like watermelons; check if their diet includes such fruits. Rabbits will appreciate having their ears misted daily, and may appreciate having cold vessels in their cages. Make sure they have adequate ventilation.
REPTILES – Yes, they are becoming popular, and yes, they can suffer from the heat. Even breeds that bask in the sun need to be able to retreat to shaded areas when the heat becomes too much for them. Fans should only be used to circulate air; some breeds will not appreciate having this aimed at them. Amphibians will need cooler water temperatures, so do check their habitats daily. Air conditioning can be a great help for most reptiles; if this is too expensive or not available, monitor humidity levels in their habitats instead. You can also use ice to help cool them down.
This story appeared in Animal Scene’s March 2015 issue.