Heat wave: how to relieve dogs and cats ?

When the heat wave is launched, we are not the only ones suffering. Our friends dogs and cats have a hard time withstanding too high temperatures. But we have the possibility to relieve them with a few simple actions.

Like humans, dogs and cats can suffer from heat. Especially when it becomes a heat wave. While sweating allows us to lower our body temperature relatively effectively, our four-legged friends are not so lucky. They have only a few sweat glands between their pads. Not enough to refresh them sufficiently. And it’s actually through breathing that they regulate their temperature. A system that requires effort from their hearts and costs them a lot of energy.

So in case of a heat wave, dogs and cats risk exhaustion first. They may also experience respiratory failure. Especially the brachycephalos, those animals with crushed noses. And those who suffer from heart disease risk heart failure. When the animal is confined in a too hot space, it risks heat stroke which can even cause its death.

The cat less sensitive than the dog

However, the cat’s desert origins make it a better adapted animal for heat than the dog. When temperatures rise, it is therefore natural that the cat will spend its day sleeping in the coolest place it can find. Thanks to a special urinary system, he is also able to better retain the water he drinks. And he can wash more to refresh himself with the saliva he then deposits on his hair.

To help your cat get through a heat wave, however, you can think about:

  • keep him indoors during the hottest hours of the journée ;
  • to set up a corner for him in a ventilated room or at ombre ;
  • guarantee him fresh water at his disposal and if the cat is reluctant to drink, opt in his bowl for wet pâtée rather than croquettes sèches ;
  • soak his paws regularly in fresh water – if he likes eau ;
  • spray it with a mist or caress it with a washcloth humide ;
  • to offer him the freshness of a fan or an air conditioner.

Comme chez l’être humain, il faut être particulièrement vigilant avec les chiots/chatons, les vieux chiens/chats, les chiens/chats brachycéphales ou les chiens/chats malades ou en surpoids. © Free-Photos, Pixabay License

Some tips dedicated to dogs

To protect itself from the heat wave, the dog has another strategy at its disposal: panting. When the temperature rises, it breathes faster in order to evacuate heat more quickly and efficiently. He may also, if he is outdoors, decide to dig a hole to enjoy the freshness of the layer of soil hidden under the lawn.

If you want to help your dog get through a heat wave, you can adopt about the same strategies as a cat. Not forgetting, moreover:

  • to take it out at the coolest hours: early in the morning or late in the evening while choosing cool places to walk such as the undergrowth and the edges of a ruisseau ;
  • to offer him swimming (legs or whole body) in fresh water – but be careful to avoid the shock thermique 
  • to avoid running it at soleil ;
  • to provide a wheelchair to relieve any pain
  • to offer him to sleep on a refreshing carpet or even on a towel mouillée ;
  • to brush him regularly to allow his coat to perform its thermoregulatory function as well as possible.

Even if it is tempting, avoid shaving your animals

In the event of a heat wave, however, beware of a few preconceived ideas about our cats and dogs. Thus, one might think that a dog or cat that has its hair removed will suffer less from heat. That’s not true. Our four-legged friends’ hair is their thermal insulation. They therefore also protect them against extreme heat. And against sunburn. If your pet has long hair, you may want to cut it a little shorter.

Note that a dog or cat who is constantly panting, who seems to have trouble breathing, who loses his appetite or appears lethargic should alert you. He’s clearly in pain, because of the heat… or some other pathology. It is then better to consult a veterinarian in an emergency.