Made in the Shade: Why Pets Need Shade to Stay Safe
When it’s hotter than an oven out there, we all want to stay indoors and relax in the cool AC. With the intensity of the southwestern sun and our higher than average UV index, skin protection and heat exhaustion are major concerns, including for our pets.
Pets need shade, too. With the fur coat they wear, they’re particularly at risk during the summer because they do not have the same internal temperature mechanism, namely sweating, as humans. Instead, they rely on panting, staying hydrated, and getting away from the sun. It’s up to us to help them do this, which is why providing shade is so important to our animal friends.
Why Pets Need Shade
While you never see your dog avoiding the sun or your cat sporting a suntan, there are several good reasons why pets need shade:
- They cannot cool down very effectively, as they only sweat minimally and rely on panting.
- Smaller pets, senior pets, and brachycephalic breeds, like pugs and bulldogs, are especially prone to heat stress.
- Pets can burn in the sun, especially those with short coats and light skin.
- Heat stroke is a very real threat that’s lethal to thousands of pets each year.
- After spending time playing or exercising outdoors, pets need to rest in an area that’s cool and comfortable with plenty of fresh water.
- As you can imagine, it’s uncomfortable to be in direct sunlight, especially when it’s hot outside!
Common and Creative Ways to Provide Shade
Shade doesn’t always mean having to sit indoors all summer (you can almost hear your dog groan from here!). While there are certain times of day that require fans and air conditioning, you can still create some shade for your pet in the yard or wherever you go.
Here are some ideas for resting and relaxing under the canopy:
- Invest in a good travel bed that has a canopy or a “pup” tent for when you’re in the great outdoors.
- Bring large umbrellas and pop-up canopies when you’re at the beach or on the boat this summer. Make sure there’s plenty of room for your pet to rest underneath, and watch out for the hot sand! Consider buying a pair of dog booties.
- Change up your pet’s daily walk by going along tree-lined sidewalks or to a lush park with lots of natural shade and covered picnic areas.
- Add shade to your backyard with native and adapted non-native trees. Consider grass or suitable non-toxic plants that reduce the heat of the day.
- Build a catio for your cat (or dog) to add to an adjoining window or door.
- Create several backyard oases using pagodas, ramadas, or canopies that you can also use for entertaining guests. Win-win!
- For pets who spend a lot of time outdoors, air conditioning or swamp coolers are a must in any enclosed outdoor space, including for rabbits and other hutch-based animals.
Finding a cool, shady spot in the high grass plains and deserts of Texas is tough, but it can be done with canopies and backyard landscaping. If you’d like more tips on keeping your pet cool or would like to schedule an appointment, please give us a call! We at Schertz Animal Hospital hope you and your pet’s summer is made in the shade!