>> Diet: During summer, appetites go down. The number of feeds can be reduced. Vegetarian feeds require less energy to digest. Non-vegetarian and packaged feed can get fermented when kept in the heat for too long, causing diarrhoea and vomiting. Other than bowls of fresh water, including liquids in the feed may be a good idea. Include milk, cheese and curd in the diet, if possible. Cats can be given fish.
>> Skin: It’s also a time when skin problems and ticks become most common. Keeping your pet well groomed will help: protect them from the sun and insulate them from the heat. Furry dog breeds should be well-clipped during this season as the thick coat makes them feel hotter.
>> Home: Remove cushioned bedding from your dog’s crate or bed. They may be more comfortable lying on a cooler bottom rather than on blankets or fleece
>> Outdoors: If on holidays, don’t take your pet out for a walk late in the day, in case, you woke up late or got lazy. Early morning or late evening is the best time to walk your pet in summer, to avoid heat strokes.
>> Alert: If you see that your dog is panting heavily, salivating or foaming, these may be the first signs of a heat-related problem. The sign of heat stroke is severe central nervous system (brain) disturbance and is often associated with multi-organ dysfunction. Bring your dog to a cool location, provide small drinks of cold water, and, if he doesn’t improve in a few minutes, contact your veterinarian.
>> Allow animals to rest in shaded places. Be careful, especially when you take your car out, as dogs love to rest under vehicles to avoid the heat.
>> Those who feed strays can add liquids to the feed.
>> At kennels, use slabs of ice to help them cool off.
>> Call a welfare organization to help with ticks and other skin related concerns. The scratches turn to serious wounds if ignored.
>> If you find birds or animals dehydrated, please inform vets or welfare organizations immediately.
Birds are the most effected during the summer as green spaces have drastically reduced in concrete jungles. Hours of flying dehydrate them. So, keeping small bowls of water in the balcony can help. Even when they choose isolated cool spots to build their nests, people destroy them. This can be avoided, unless it’s a hygiene issue.
Inputs: Dr KG Umesh, Waltham Scientific Communication Manager, Mars India; Lt Col (Dr) JC Khanna, secretary, officer in-charge at The Bombay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSPCA); Abodh Aras from The Welfare of Stray Dogs (WSD)