Come summer and we are all panting for breath. Not just us but our furry ones too. When we humans can cope with heat to a certain extent (we can sit under the fan or switch on the AC, worst-case scenario we can call out for help), our fur-friends have only us to help them out. Here are some tips to give your fur baby an easy summer.
1: Water water everywhere
Make sure there’s water in at least one bowl for the furry round the clock. He/she needs to stay hydrated at all times. But at the same time, when you take him/her out for a walk, make sure they don’t sneak a drink from puddles or road-side pools which may consist of a lot of toxins and chemicals like anti-freeze which is sweet and irresistible to pets but extremely lethal.
Give your furry a nice fur-do especially if he/she has long and thick fur. Thick fur tends to trap heat and would make your pet very uncomfortable.
3: Walks in the Sunshine?
As much as a walk in the sunshine has been glorified in all forms of writing and painting, summer sunshine is a killer especially for your pets. If you must take them for a walk, ensure it is preferably early in the morning before the sun is up or in the evenings after sundown. Early morning walks are the best. Always keep them on a leash. Pets tend to run when they experience discomfort. You can even train to keep your cat on a leash. Avoid long tiring walks. Keep them short and ensure they come home to a bowl of cool water (not cold). Pets are also prone to sunburns like humans. They get itchy irritable skin that may peel off or even lead to skin cancer. Ask your vet for sunscreen for pets.
4: Keep them inside
There are people who are not comfortable with bringing their pets into their living quarters. However, it is advisable to keep them in the shade or cooler parts of the house.
5: Heat stroke
Keep an eye out for heat stroke*. Heatstroke is a medical emergency. If you suspect your pet has heatstroke, you must act quickly and calmly. Have someone call a veterinarian immediately. In the meantime, lower the animal’s body temperature by applying towels soaked in cool water to the hairless areas of the body. Often the pet will respond after only a few minutes of cooling, only to falter again with his temperature soaring back up or falling to well below what is normal. With this in mind, remember that it is imperative to get the animal to a veterinarian immediately. Once your pet is in the veterinarian’s care, treatment may include further cooling techniques, intravenous fluid therapy to counter shock, or medication to prevent or reverse brain damage.
6: Frequent baths
Give your furries a shower at least once a week or pat him/her down with a wet towel as frequently as possible to keep his/her body temperature at a normal level.
7: Ice Cream
Pets enjoy ice cream as much as humans do, especially in the hot summer days. If your pet seems to have a bad tummy due to the heat, give him/her a small cup of vanilla ice cream. Please note, give your furry only VANILLA and no other flavour. A small cup a week or once in 10 days will soothe his/her tummy. Do not worry if his/her appetite drops or if they become fussy eaters, pets do not feel too hungry during the hot summer days. Moreover, your furry knows what it needs better than you do, so do not force him/her to eat what he/she doesn’t feel like eating.
Be cautious on humid days. Humidity interferes with animals’ ability to rid themselves of excess body heat. When we overheat, we sweat, and when the sweat dries, it takes excess heat with it. Our four-legged friends only perspire around their paws, which is not enough to cool the body. To rid themselves of excess heat, animals pant. Air moves through the nasal passages, which picks up excess heat from the body. As it is expelled through the mouth, the extra heat leaves along with it. Although this is a very efficient way to control body heat, it is severely limited in areas of high humidity or when the animal is in close quarters.
Dogs with snub noses like Pugs, bull dogs, Pekingese, etc., have a hard time staying cool because they cannot pant efficiently, so they also need to stay out of the heat. Overweight dogs are also more prone to overheating, because their extra layers of fat act as insulation, which traps heat in their bodies and restricts their breathing capabilities.
Summer does not have to be fraught with peril–with ample precaution, both you and your furry friends can enjoy those long, hot days of summer.
*Signs of Heatstroke
- Anxious expression
- Refusal to obey commands
- Warm, dry skin
- High fever
- Rapid heartbeat
A version of this article first appeared in the weekly YSeeker e-magazine in 2014.
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