Air Conditioning: Should You Leave It on for Your Pet?

More on PawNation: Air Conditioning, Cats, Dogs, Lifestyle, Safety, Summer
Thermostats don't lie: it's hot! Thankfully the modern marvel of air conditioning helps us beat the summer heat and keep our pets cool as well. But what about when we leave the house? Should the AC be left on for your pet while you're out and about?

According to Mother Jones, this is an issue that has the animal lovers of the world all riled up. One side says it is unfair to leave our fluffy friends at home sans AC during heat waves, especially when they are stuck in fur coats. The other side argues that cats and dogs were roaming the Earth for thousands of years in the heat before we came along and put them indoors. Additionally, they point out that running your AC full time for your animal could be hurting the environment more than helping your pet.

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Instead of ping-ponging between the two sides, Mother Jones decided to contact a professional to find the answer. Dr. Helen Myers of the ASPCA told the news organization that it isn't the heat that is the big problem for pets, but the humidity. Humidity mixed with heat prevents panting -- an animal's natural cooling system -- from working effectively. Dr. Myers suggests leaving fans on to keep the air circulating while you are away, or leaving your AC set around 78-80 degrees, a preferred temperature for pets. It is also important to keep all water bowls full to prevent dehydration.

Dr. Myers also said that dogs usually require cooling more than cats, because canines create more heat with muscle activity. Owners of obese, ill or elderly animals should also be extra careful, since these animals are more susceptible to heat stroke.

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Mother Jones also asked American Veterinary Medicine Association's Dr. Kimberly May for her input. Dr. May added that the AC needs of each pet vary individually. She suggests keeping an eye on your pet's behavior while the AC is on. If you find your furry friends constantly by the vent, it is probably best to leave it on for them if you are gone for long periods.

Overall, it comes down to learning your pet's individual needs and finding the chill factor to match. As May pointed out, since we domesticated the animals, we also assisted in their loss of natural responses to things like extreme heat. So we owe it to our little guys to make sure that this isn't a bummer summer for them.

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The very first dog (not wolf) known to man was a breed built for hot conditions. Since then, selective breeding has created a wide range of dogs -- dogs who do well in cool weather, and dogs who are better off in hot weather. If your dog isn't built for the heat, you should leave them inside with the AC going.

On that same note, can someone give me a little advice? I'm starting a job working for an oil rig. For now I'll work eight ten hours days straight with six days off. It's very hot here in Utah, so I cant leave my dog outside (Husky Mix) but I cant lock her up without a potty trip and a good walk. There are no listed dog walkers in my area (small town). How do I find one, and how can I be sure they treat her well and walk her like they should?

July 15 2012 at 2:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It really depends on how hot it is and also the breed of dog. If I were to leave my bulldog home with no air on a hot humid day, I can kiss my little guy goodbye. His breed doesn't do well in extreme heat.

July 09 2012 at 12:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have a pomeranian, and I have air conditioning, thing is .. is the a/c wont cool whole apt. So we have it in daughters room.Does it hurt him to take him back and forth from heat to a/c ?

July 06 2012 at 5:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Last year in the middle of summer on one of the hottest days, my AC failed, it blew a fuse probably shortly after I left for work. It was 99 degrees that day, hot but not deadly. I came back to my second floor apartment to find it 118 degrees inside my home, my fish and frog were dead, my 16 year old cat had crawled behind the toilet to try and keep cool, he had passed out. I quickly put him in the bath tub with cool, not cold, water and called the vet. By the time we got to the vets, he was doing better. He lived to be 18 years old. I have a new cat, more fish and another frog and an emergency window unit programmed to come on 90 degrees and sound an alarm. It cast me $290.00 to put it in, my pets are worth 100 times that to me. Never again.

July 04 2012 at 1:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

To heck with conserving energy. The amount saved would not make a hill of beans to energy conservation.
My dogs are my family, old and rescues. They have been through enough mistreatment. What ever I can give them to keep them safe, happy and healthy for the rest of their lives is priceless.
I won't have them for much longer. It is the least I can give them. They also eat the best, healthy homemade food that I can give them. No store bought contaminated foods for them either. Their allergies forced me into that to be honest. LOL

July 04 2012 at 12:17 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Leaving a pet in high temps without AC is abuse. Please don't adopt if you can't give them the basics.

July 04 2012 at 11:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Living without air conditioning in high temps is abuse. Don't have a pet if you are not able, they are innocent.

July 04 2012 at 11:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Julie T Goldman

Only a moron would turn the a.c off in this kind of heat

July 04 2012 at 11:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have noticed that my Sheltie lays where the fan hits him on my bed, so I can turn up the A/C a bit more during the day and I leave the fan on, that way the humidity is down and he has the breeze to feel. I did notice that humidity affects him worse outside on walks that hotter days without humidity, and if there is a breeze blowing he loves it hot or not...I guess I made some correct assumptions from this article. And for those who don't leave it on for animals who live in a/c all the time, because that is what they are used to, not the heat that animals who don't live in a/c are, don't deserve to have it themselves.

July 04 2012 at 11:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I had no idea this was any kind of issue. I leave my A/C on when I am here and when I am gone. It is actually set to 74. I closely monitor the humidity already. My dog is overweight and she pants allot when I set it higher. I leave my closet door open because she likes to lay on the floor in closet when a storm comes around and when it gets exceptionally warm outside. My cat likes the heat so I make sure there are plenty of blankets for him to snuggle on and I even put some blankets on the floor where he likes to lay. I make a sort of tent on the big sofa chair with a blanket so he can get away from the draft from the vents, he loves the "tent" and spends allot of time there. I have two full (fresh everyday) bowls of water and a place where my dog can use the bathroom if I a not home to let her out. You do for them what you would do for your children, you take care of them.

July 04 2012 at 9:44 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Frekwii's comment

Part of the reason your dog isn't very tolerant of heat is she's overweight. Just like humans, extra weight causes dogs to have more problems with heat. While I applaud you for leaving the AC set lower while you're gone, you might also want to help your dog lose weight. Switch her over to a weight loss food (assuming she doesn't have some crazy food allergies), cut back on treats (trade the calorie heavy MilkBones for plain Cheerios), and cut out any people food except for plain green beans. Those have lots of fiber that help your dog feel full when you mix them with her food, but they don't have extra calories, so she'll lose weight.

July 04 2012 at 11:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
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