2024 has a one-in-three chance of being even hotter than 2023, which was deemed the world’s hottest on record, according to scientists from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). For pet parents, keeping your dog cool indoors can sound like a no-brainer — especially if you have air conditioning. However, when aiming to ensure that your home is geared towards maximum comfort during warmer months, there are several considerations to keep in mind — from providing plenty of water to maintaining your AC — and what you can do when your AC is on the fritz. 

Maximizing AC efficiency 

Air conditioning is the cornerstone of a comfortable house during the summer months, though there are a couple of ways that you can ensure maximum efficiency to keep both yourself and your pup cool. Investing in a smart thermostat, for example, is just one great way to achieve the ideal indoor environment during warmer months. “Smart thermostats learn the homeowner’s heating and cooling cycles and then build a schedule,” explains Jeanne Blaisdell, a broker and realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Yost & Little Realty. Apartment Therapy goes on to explain that while programmable thermostat models work with a preset schedule, smart thermostats differ due to their usage of features like geofencing and motion sensing, which work to guague when to turn the heat up or down — in fact, it’s noted that some models can even check the weather. These models, as a result, use the information in order to regulate air conditioning, auxiliary heating, and humidity, according to Apartment Therapy. Wi-Fi adds further benefits, allowing for heating and cooling to be controlled from anywhere.

Getting your air conditioner ready for the summer months is imperative in ensuring that it’s well maintained, and will allow the unit to work as efficiently as possible to keep both you and your pup cool. Properly preparing your air conditioner involves a few key steps — to start, it’s important to first turn off the circuit breaker. From there, cleaning or replacing the filters is essential, as this will prevent restricted air flow (thus reducing the efficiency of your unit). Cleaning the air conditioner’s condenser coils, and clearing any debris out of the base of the condenser is necessary. After checking the coolant lines, testing the air conditioner (after allowing it to dry thoroughly) will ensure that everything is in working order.

Access to water is a must

Providing access to clean, fresh water at all times is essential for your dog to stay cool during the spring and summer months, and will work to prevent dehydration, too. This is especially important if your pup is coming in and going out of the house throughout the day. The AKC lists lack of water intake as one cause of dehydration in dogs, though it’s also important to ensure that Fido is not exercising too much (especially in hot weather) as this can result in dehydration as well. With that in mind, it’s vital to be aware of the signs and symptoms of canine dehydration

According to Dr. Jerry Klein, Chief Veterinary Officer for the AKC and an expert in veterinary emergency and critical care, symptoms of canine dehydration range from loss of appetite to vomiting (with or without diarrhea), panting, and a dry nose — to highlight just a few. Dr. Klein notes that checking your pup’s skin elasticity is one way to determine whether they’re hydrated. In well-hydrated dogs, it’s noted that the kin will instantly spring back to its original position — to test this, simply hold some of Fido’s skin near their shoulder blades, raise it up, and let it go, observing carefully how it falls back into place. One great way to ensure that your pup has continuous access to fresh water is to put out extra bowls (especially in the areas they frequent), both indoors and out. Making it a point to check on these bowls throughout the day will give you an idea as to how much your pup is drinking and will provide ample opportunities to top up or refill the water as needed.

Cooling comforts in challenging situations

Turning on the AC and putting out a bowl of water can seem like a simple enough way to keep your pup comfortable during warmer months, though there are a few situations that can make keeping cool a challenge. For example, should you need to leave your home for a few hours on a hot summer day. Using a smart thermostat is a great way to gain insight into your home’s temperature while you’re away, as you can see such information on your phone and adjust the temperature accordingly. Family Handyman points out that indoor temperatures during the summer months should be “what you’re probably used to,” or a temperature between 75 and 78 degrees fahrenheit. “When you leave the house, never set the thermostat higher than 82 degrees, and always provide lots of fresh water for your dog,” the post recommends, going on to point out the value that materials like cool tile or cement flooring can have for your pup. 

If you don’t have air conditioning (or if happens to be on the fritz), there are still ways that you can keep your dog cool. In addition to keeping water available, the AKC notes that it’s important to let your dog drink as much as possible. If you have a working freezer, making cold treats (such as frozen chew toys or dog-safe ice pops) can be a great way to keep Fido cool during hot summer days, notes the AKC. “Along with plenty of cool water, the most important thing to do to keep a dog cool is to stay indoors or in the shade.” The basement, for example, can make for a great hang-out spot on hot days, as can a well-ventilated and properly shaded porch area. Heading to a friend or family member’s house (with AC) is another recommendation. The AKC goes on to highlight the value of certain supplies, such as a fan, cooling pads made for dogs, a spray bottle filled with cool water, and even helpful accessories such as a cooling vest, each of which can make the heat more bearable. 

Ensuring that your home is cool and comfortable for your dog this spring and summer can feel like a challenge, especially when it comes to preventing serious health issues like dehydration. However, successfully preparing your home can be made easy with a few key elements — from understanding the right temperature, providing plenty of water, and properly caring for your AC unit.