As June is about to wrap up, we’re thinking about cooling solutions for animals and pets who can get overheated easily or live in warm climates. Our cats and dogs, horses and other working animals need to stay cool, just like humans, but it can be tougher to figure out just how to do that.
There are many ways to help animals keep cool, and some cooling solutions are way more convenient than others especially in certain circumstances. Keeping cool can play an important role in not only comfort but also in healing and recovery from an injury.
According to Dr. Bonnie D. Wright, DVM, DACVAA of Colorado, cooling tissues causes vessel constriction (vasoconstriction) in tissues, which can reduce swelling. Cooling therapy can also reduce pain by slowing down pain nerve cell activity, and reduce levels of inflammatory signals in the cooled tissue. In other words, just like an ice pack can help us humans feel better when we bump our knee, it can help our animal friends to feel better, too. Learn more about Temperature-Related Physical Modalities for Acute Pain in the ER.
Generally, sources such as Dr. Wright (who provides services through Mistralvet.com) advises that cooling (or cryotherapy) tools should be used for 10-15 minutes every 4-6 hours to reduce swelling and pain. Caution needs to be taken to make sure circulation, tissues and nerves are not injured or irritated with treatment, and sometimes longer application times may be necessary to penetrate more deeply, in areas with more adipose or deeper tissues.
Avoiding heat is often the simplest option for animals, in order to maintain their comfort and health. Air conditioning, when traveling or at home, is a must-have in hotter climates, especially when the heat rises into the mid-90’s (Fahrenheit) and beyond. However, with equine patients living outdoors, this isn’t always an option.
Plaster cooling pastes and clays
These commercially-available clays and pastes can be applied to help pull heat from tissue, provided an animal does not have long fur and is willing to remain still during and after application. Application and removal should be done with care and under expert consultation. However, the application takes time, and the clays are heavy and come in bulky buckets.
Ice and Gel Packs and Ice Containers (including boots)
According to this article in Equus magazine, cooling boots and gel packs can be applied by vet wrap or bandage to any part of an animal who is willing to wear them. This allows constant contact with the cooling pack but requires access to a freezer to keep the products cool.
These can also be bulky to apply and heavy for the animal, which is not an issue with full-size horses, but in smaller breeds and smaller species, this can be a barrier to effective treatment. If you want an even simpler solution, you can use a bucket full of ice water (and even consider adding salt to lower the temperature more), but this requires the animal to stay still and stand in the bucket to reap any benefit.
Cooling compression therapy has been shown, according to Dr. Wright and others, to decrease pain, swelling, and lameness and increase joint stifle range of motion (ROM) following veterinary surgical procedures, according to this 2011 published journal. Cooling therapy can also potentially decrease spasticity in muscles.
While ice buckets and packs are often the most economical solutions, they can be challenging to apply on some areas of an animal, and animals or pets who don’t want to be tied down to bulky packs or stand still in buckets of ice may not get the benefit of cold therapy.
For a less restrictive option, you can try a Cool Compressor cohesive bandage. It’s a self-stick vet wrap which self-cools for up to an hour, lowering tissue temperatures up to 15 degrees without limiting movement or adding any weight to the animal. It's easy to tear by hand and does not require any refrigeration. The cold compressor is certainly a versatile, flexible, and handy cooling product to keep on hand when other methods are not practical or readily available.
About Arrowhead Animal Health
Arrowhead’s animal health product line is made in an FDA-registered facility and ranges from cohesive tapes, self-stick vet wraps, to adhesive stretch tapes and cotton sports tapes, all designed to the highest demands of durability and performance. From small canine to working animals to large equines, Arrowhead Animal Health products are ideal for vet clinics, stables, kennel facilities, farms, and zoos. Arrowhead Animal Health has over 35 years of experience crafting premium tapes and wraps, which it sells in the athletic industry as Arrowhead Athletics. and in different industrial markets as Shawsheen Coating and Converting.
Arrowhead partners with those who are responsible for the care of large and small mammals. Arrowhead designs and manufactures high-quality, dependable cohesive and adhesive tapes and wraps to aid in the comfort, protection, and healing of animals. For more information about Arrowhead tapes and wraps, please contact us!