Should You Leave the Heat or AC on For Your Pets When You Are Gone?

Animals are just as prone to heat- and cold-related complications as us, which is why pet owners are always encouraged to let even their outdoor pets into the house during extreme temperatures. Fortunately, we have our homes’ heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems to keep us and our furry friends comfortable and safe. However, many pet-owners still wonder whether they should leave their homes’ HVAC on for their pets while they are away.

What is the Ideal House Temperature for Pets?

To answer the question, it’s very important to first evaluate the facts:

1) First of all, we should acknowledge that domesticated animals are no longer like their ancestors or their relative species which had/have immense survival skills. Therefore, we cannot argue that they should be able to withstand extreme temperatures just because their ancestors did.

2) Next, it’s worth noting that animals, dogs and cats in particular, have their own way of regulating body temperature, and it’s called panting. However, when situated in hot and humid places, this technique becomes less effective.

3) Finally, certain factors or animals characteristics can help you determine whether your pet needs an HVAC or not:

  • Health condition – animals that are overweight or those that have lung complications are more vulnerable to extreme temperatures.
  • Breed – panting tends to work less for animals with short muzzles, such bulldogs, Persian cats and pugs.
  • Fur length and texture – animals with longer and thicker fur tend to be more susceptible to heat-related complications; they, however, are able to deal with extreme cold temperatures better.
  • Behavior – during summer, if you observe that funny friend likes to hang around the air conditioning vent then it may be more comfortable in a cool condition. But, if it likes to stay by the window where there’s sunlight, it may not mind if you give your AC a rest while you’re away. Watch out for the reverse during winter – if it tends to hang by the furnace, it may prefer a warmer environment.

Now that we’ve looked at the facts, it’s time to check out your options:

1) If you’re not comfortable about leaving the air conditioner or heater on, or you know that your pet can take a little heat/cold, you switch it off and opt to leave a fan running to help in improving indoor air circulation. During summer, you can also place a block of ice on its front to cool the air.

2) Some experts would advise homeowners not to completely shut off their HVAC systems when they leave home, and instead, simply raise the thermostat level. This is not only to keep their pets comfortable but also because doing so can actually be more energy- and cost-effective. Why is that? They say that the energy consumed when the homeowner leaves the system on while he’s away is greatly outweighed by the energy it takes for it to heat/cool the entire room or house all over again after shutting it down and turning it back on. If you take this advice then there wouldn’t be any harm in letting your pet in on it. During summer, you can leave your AC on at 78 to 80 degrees – the approximate comfort levels for pets.

3) The basement is usually the coolest place in the house. If you have a particularly cool basement, you can set up a nice and cozy place for your pet in the room to keep it cool during summer. On the other hand, you’ll most likely find the kitchen to be the warmest place during winter.

4) If your furry friend enjoys the outdoors, you may also let him out while you’re away during summer. Just make sure he doesn’t stray far. Also, make sure there’s a cool well-shaded place where he can hang during the hottest times of the day. However, by no means should you leave your pet outside during winter.

You may also enforce certain additional precautions to ensure that your pet is comfy and safe from the heat, whether he’s inside or outside the house:

1) Make sure to leave them enough drinking water until you get back. You can connect their water dispenser to a hose that automatically refills the container when it’s almost empty.

2) For outdoor pets, you can fill a wading pool and place it is a shaded area. They can dip into it whenever they feel hot.

3) Some pets like ice in their water while others don’t. Run some trials before you decide to leave them with ice in their drinking water.

4) If you’re willing to spend a little more for your loving companions, you can invest in a pet cooling pad – they’ll love you for it.

5) If you’re leaving your pet indoors, make sure you close the curtains or window shades to shun the sunlight.

6) You don’t want to enclose your pet in a cage, especially when it’s really hot and the cage is not particularly spacious.

During winter, make sure that your pet has a warm and comfortable place to sleep or rest in – throw in some cozy blankets or quilts – and don’t let it stay out in the cold for long hours.