In the summer heat, you need to keep yourself and your family hydrated and take precautions to prevent heat-related illnesses. However, don’t forget your pets! You may think that your dog or cat is made of stronger stuff, but even animals need extra care as temperatures soar. Here are some tips for taking care of pets in hot weather.
If you have a dog who is playful and likes to run around, she will be more likely to tire out in the extreme heat so keep an eye out for the distress signs mentioned below.
When it comes to cars, what goes for children goes for your dog: never keep him locked up in your car, even for a few minutes and even with the windows down. With high temperatures and no breeze, you’ll be putting them at great risk of heat exhaustion.
Make sure your dog has access to clean drinking water through the day. Your dog will need to go out every day for a walk, even if it’s very hot, but choosing the right time for exercise is crucial to making the heat bearable for the both of you. Early mornings or post-sunset are the coolest times to head out. Giving your dog a few ice cubes to play with can keep it occupied as well as help it cool off after a long walk or play session. And if you have dogs with a thick fur coat, take extra care to make sure they are clean and cool in the summer; having them in a room with air-conditioning or a cooler is advisable.
Animal care professional Gauri Keskar told Times of India, “Dogs get rashes, hotspots, etc. What helps the most is if you trim 50% of their hair. This makes them cooler and more comfortable. The other important thing is to give them anti-tick and flea baths.”
Watch out distress signals from your dog. Excessive panting, lack of energy, suffocation or body temperatures above 105 to 106 degrees Fahrenheit all point to heatstroke. Take immediate action by pouring cool water on your dog or placing him in a tub of cool water. Call up your vet for further assistance and, if needed, take him to the clinic for treatment for dehydration.
Cats are even more susceptible to heat stroke and if their body temperature goes too high it can cause severe organ damage and even death. If your cat seems restless while trying to get comfortable it may be feeling too hot. Watch out for panting, sweaty feet, drooling and excessive grooming in an effort to cool off. More extreme symptoms of heat exhaustion include rapid breathing, vomiting, lethargy and stumbling. Its tongue and mouth may also appear red. Dr Dipti Valavalkar said, “It’s important to keep cats out of the direct sunlight as much as possible. But in case the cat does suffer from heatstroke, keep it in an air-conditioned or cooler environment. Put a wet cloth on it. You must also rush the animal to the vet who will see what is wrong, monitor the cat and administer the right medications to it.”
Birds are delicate pets that can be badly affected by high temperatures, so it’s best to keep them indoors whenever it is too hot outside. You can sprinkle water on them to help them cool off when temperatures rise. And remember to keep their cages clean to minimise the risk of them developing disease.
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