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Should You Leave the Home A/C on for Pets?

It’s another balmy summer in Champaign and pet owners are once again wrestling with the question of whether or not to leave the air conditioning on inside their home to keep their furry friends cool. Once the heat rises to uncomfortable heights (it has – and it will again), is it worth running up the electricity bill and hurting the environment just to ensure your pets stay comfortable? As most pet owners know, it isn’t simply a matter of comfort, for cats and (especially) dogs it’s also a matter of health. Dogs generally require more cooling than cats as they create more heat with muscle activity. But both animals are impacted by the high temperatures and can suffer ill effects.

Keeping Your Pets Safe in the Heat

According to the ASPCA, the heat isn’t the worst problem for indoor pets, it’s the heat mixed with the humidity. Combined, both the heat and humidity can prevent animals from panting effectively. Panting is the natural cooling system for both dogs and cats and when this is compromised it can lead to an increased risk of stress and exhaustion. Central air conditioning not only cools the air but can also help bring the humidity down. However, there are several factors that need to be considered before you decide to leave the AC on for pets all day in your absence.

  • How tight is your home? Some homes can maintain a low temperature and humidity simply by keeping the curtains or blinds closed.
  • Do you have a basement where the pets can stay? Basements are generally several degrees cooler than the rest of the house.
  • Do you have an elderly, overweight or chronically ill animal? They are more prone to heat stroke than healthier pets and should be monitored very carefully if you opt to keep the air conditioning off.
  • Do you have a pet door? If your dog or cat has access to the outdoors, even during a very hot day, the fresh air can help with a humidity issue inside the house.
  • Do you own a cat, a dog or both? Cats are generally more tolerant of the heat than their canine counterparts. But as a rule of thumb, the longer the hair on any animal, the hotter it will be in warm, humid conditions.
Puppy and Kitten

While all these factors should be taken into consideration, the best course of action for your pets is to simply set your thermostat at 78-80 degrees, which is a comfortable range for most animals. Leaving the AC on for pets this way will keep the cooling costs down and ensure they stay comfortable. In addition, using fans to cool the air and making sure there is enough water for them to drink will go a long way in keeping them happy and hydrated. Cooling pads, mats, and coats are also available for dogs if you are seeking out alternative methods to keep them contented.

9 Cooling Pet Products

Remember Cassel Home Comfort is here to keep you and your entire family comfortable. If you have any problems with your air conditioning this summer, give us a call at (217) 866-1596.