Keep your best friend cool

Pet care

Saurabh Mallik, a freelance filmmaker is sitting inside his room, doors closed, air conditioner on, sipping cold coffee and watching his favourite programme on television.

And the scenario is the same in the other room, but with a bit of a difference. In the next room, Tobler, his best friend, a labrador is ‘chilling’!“He is there in that room with the air conditioner on the whole day. We can’t help also. Otherwise he will fall sick in the summers. Unlike humans, dogs can’t bear this kind of heat. We also do not entertain him with the food he wants. As per the veterinary, we are supposed to give him biscuits, which is his favourite only twice a day,” said the filmmaker.

Well, this is the story of every household boasting a pet.
 How else does one take care of the pets in the months of gruelling heat! Just as summer poses health risks to us, even dogs too suffer. Symptoms of heat-related problems among dogs include excessive panting or difficulty in breathing, increased heart rate, drooling, weakness. Extreme exhaustion has symptoms like seizures, bloody diarrhoea and vomiting and increased body temperatures.  

Dr Shally Jalali, veterinary surgeon at Dr Batra’s Pet Care Hospital, says, “Keep lots of fresh water for your pet during summer. Use a stainless steel or a ceramic water bowl to help limit bacterial contamination. Keep your pet indoors between 10 am to 4 pm and try walking your dogs early in the morning or later in the evening when the surfaces are cooler. Also one should not leave their pet in the car, even if they leave the windows open. The temperature in the car can increase within 15 minutes, which can be fatal for a dog. In case one wants to leave their dog alone for a couple of hours, they should ensure that there is proper ventilation, lots of water and the ceiling fan is switched on.”

Heatstroke, sunburn, dehydration can be major factors affecting the health of pets during summer. Dogs get sunburnt just like people do. The risk of sunburn is high in white, light-coloured, and thinly coated dogs. Sunburn in animals can cause problems like itching, peeling, and even cancer, says the doctor.

According to Dr KG Umesh, Waltham Scientific Communication Manager, Mars India, the makers of Pedigree, said, “Dogs can’t perspire efficiently like us and can only dispel heat by panting and through the pads of their feet. 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 limited in areas with high humidity or when the animal is in close quarters.”  

One of the major points to be taken into account is the food they eat. Dogs tend to eat less in summer but they end up spending more energy in an effort to lower their body temperatures. “A lot of pet owners tend to feed homemade diets like curd and rice during the summers, but it is very important to note that this food contains more water (70-80 per cent) and does not have adequate level of energy, vitamins, minerals, etc. A balanced, nutritionally complete and energy-dense diet which also contains natural antioxidants and confers some protection against the effects of heatstroke should be given to the pets,” adds Umesh.

Lastly, one should ensure that their pet doesn’t overexert itself. Though exercise is an important part of keeping the pets at a healthy weight, overdoing it can cause them to overheat. So, save exercise sessions for early morning or after the sun goes down. 

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