A Vet’s Advice About Dogs And Air Conditioning

During the cold months people hear about bringing their pets indoors and watching out for strays in wheel wells. More than 60% of American households include pets and that means the majority of Americans have the comfort of another species to consider when deciding on what temperature to keep their home. Here are some things  you should know about how air conditioning affects your pets. 

Breed Matters

If you've ever wondered why someone would knit a sweater for a dog you might be in for a shock. A dog's coat, size, temperament, and sensitivity all play a role in how it perceives temperature, and some dogs have more trouble with the temp than others. Here are some things to keep in mind. 

  • Dogs with double coats (huskies, German shepherds) can overheat more easily than dogs with single coats, which means keeping cool temperatures during summer months is especially important for them. 
  • Dogs with single coats may become uncomfortable if they are kept too near the air conditioner, meaning that if you own a dog with a single coat, you should be careful to keep their crate or bed away from air conditioning vents. 
  • Small breed dogs tend to be more susceptible to cold and overheating, so having an accurate thermostat, maybe even a programmable one, will be important for them.

Age and Size Matter

Just like with humans, the very young and the very old have a harder time adjusting to uncomfortably warm or cold temperatures. During the warmer months, keeping your home cooled to a reasonable temperature will be important if you're keeping a puppy or an elderly dog indoors while you're away.

Just as puppies have a harder time with very hot or very cold temperatures, small breed dogs like Chihuahuas, rat terriers, and shih tzus need extra consideration when it comes to the temperature of their habitat. Leaving one of these breeds in the car for even a few minutes on a hot day could result in serious illness and heat stroke, while a larger breed may just be panting when you get back. For this reason it will be important for you to keep your air conditioner on, even when you're away for the day, if your tiny familiar is to remain healthy and comfortable.  

If You Have a Mutt...

Many dogs in the U.S. are mixed breeds, also called mutts. If you're the proud owner of one of these, you'll need to take a moment to assess your dog's temperature needs. Here's what to look for. 

  • How long is your dog's hair? Longer haired dogs tend to have an undercoat. To check for this, simply pet your dog backward. Do you see finer hairs under the longer ones? Congratulations! Your dog needs air conditioning.
  • Does your dog have bald spots? Some dogs naturally have very little hair around their ears, on their bellies, and on the inside of their legs. That means heat escapes their bodies easily, and you don't need to worry quite as much about overheating. 
  • How much does your dog weigh? Some "small breeds" are actually quite tall. Take the Greyhound for instance. These leggy pups are temperature sensitive because they have a short single coat, little body fat, and don't weigh much for their height. 
  • Does your dog have any other health problems? Dogs with existing health problems will have a harder time tolerating the summer heat. Breathing and heart problems should be of special concern to you, so make sure to consult your vet.

Now that you know what to look for, just keep a simple question in mind. If you had fur like your dog's, would you be comfortable at the current temperature? Some dog owners shave their pups in the summer to keep everyone at home feeling comfortable, or they put on an extra layer and crank up the AC. Either way, you're a great dog owner for considering your buddy's comfort. 

If your dog is truggling with the heat or cold too much consider taking them to be checked out at a place like, 1st Pet Veterinary Centers - Chandler.