SPARKS — You are lying on the beach, the sun beating down on your stomach as you soak up another leathery summer tan. As the sweat slowly drips from your brow you have finally had enough so you make a break for the water and an instant cool overcomes you.
Meanwhile, your dog waits patiently at home for you in the comfort of the dog house you bought that supposedly accommodates the changing seasons in the area. He begins to smolder in his thick, comfortable pillow with dreams of making his own splash to cool off.
Some canine owners fail to realize the amount of heat their dogs take in from their stomachs and feet, according to Lykira Fuentes, canine manager at the SPCA of Northern Nevada.
“Dogs feel most of their temperature in their pads (on their feet) and on their bellies where their vital organs are kept,” Fuentes said. “That’s why they tend to dig to find that cool part of the ground for their stomach.”
The quick-fix solution: a doggy pool. The summer months mean less time at home for parents and children to check on and play with their pets, meaning their daylong cooling strategies must be planned ahead of time. Fuentes says open shade may be a better option than a ventilated dog house.
“Wood and plastic dog houses will get really hot during the summer, and even with decent ventilation it might not keep them cool enough,” she said. “A canopy lets in a lot of ventilation and offers them shade on the ground for their stomachs.”
Pet owners often turn to the razor or trimmer to keep their dogs cool as the temperature begins to rise, but Fuentes says that is a common mistake that leads to eventual problems.
“Dogs’ coats naturally change as the weather gets warmer and their winter coat can get stuck in the new coat that is developing. The key is to get them to a groomer and brush out the dead coat to make way for the summer coat,” Fuentes said. “Sometimes when you shave them the coats become too thin and the dogs can actually get sunburned.” She added that the best summer shave is on a dog’s stomach, which allows for more air flow even while they are lying on the ground, and that sunburns for short-haired dogs can be combatted with a dab of children’s sunscreen on their nose, ears and bellies.
Dog owners also can cool their pooches with frozen treats, such as ice cubes made of chicken or beef broth or frozen Kongs filled with peanut butter.
Feline pet owners prefer to keep their pets indoors during the day and do not have to worry about a kitty pool to keep them happy during their lonely hours at home.
Michelle Harper, feline manager at the SPCA of Northern Nevada, says that cats need their room to wander, and because it can be dangerous for them to roam outdoors the best option for pet owners is to provide them with other amenities.
“Cats find it stimulating to survey their surroundings, so providing them with a window where they can watch birds is very important,” Harper said. “If you already have places where they like to climb then you don’t need one of those big fancy cat trees.”
According to Harper, cat trees can sometimes be helpful to cats, which are inquisitive predators and timid prey, because their desire to climb comes out of necessity to maintain strength and dexterity in their muscles and tendons.
“Climbing is part of their survival instincts,” she said. “Even when they become very domesticated they continue to climb because they are wired in that predator-and-prey instinct.”
Some cat owners find their felines scratching items in their house while they are away, which is their way of marking their territory and not about the boredom, according to Harper.
“A sprinkle of cat nip on a small scratching post or wooden board can get them to scratch in a place that isn’t your furniture,” she said adding that cats are stimulated more from watching things when they are alone. Harper suggests playing videos while the cat is home alone that have various outdoor scenes for them to look at and stay occupied.
As for keeping cool in the coming summer months, Harper said cats will likely find cool tile, linoleum or garage cement around the house to lie down on and sleep while their owners are out.
“Cats spend anywhere between 16 and 22 hours sleeping, depending on their age,” she said. “They will probably be sleeping in the same spot when you get home as they were when you left them.”