How to keep your pets safe from summer stress

Starting mid-April, the mercury level has started rising across India. The scorching heat, dryness or humidity (depending on where you live) will have a big impact on our pets. Let’s look at how heat affects our pets, and what we can do to minimise seasonal distress.
Unlike humans, pets cannot sweat through their body surface; they depend completely on panting to cool themselves. Though some amount of sweating takes place through the paws and nose, it’s minimal. Due to these differences pets are more prone to heatstroke.

Heatstroke, dehydration, lack of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea.

Precautions to take
1. Avoid exposure to the hot sun by keeping pets indoors or under shade, especially, during peak temperatures (noon to 4 pm).

2. Ensure that your pet drinks plenty of water throughout the day.

3. All outdoor activities, like exercising or walking should be restricted to either early morning or late evening.

4. Don’t let your pet climb hot surfaces during walks as it will heat up their body quickly and burn their sensitive paw pads.

5. Never leave your pet in the car in this weather, as he will be prone to heat stress.

6. It is better to trim long haired breeds, but never shave them completely as the coat also provides protection against sun and heat.

7. Flat-/short-faced breeds like Pug, Shi-Tzu, Bulldog and Boxers are prone to heat stress as they cannot pant effectively like long-faced breeds. Pups, seniors, obese dogs and pets suffering with heart or respiratory tract issues should be kept in cool temperatures as much as possible.

8. Ensure supervision if you are leaving your pet in a swimming pool to beat the heat.

9. Keep a check on your pet’s vitals, and as soon as you notice any change in him or observe any signs of heat stress, consult your veterinarian rightaway.

Feeding routine
-Did you know that the energy requirement in pets increases with increase in ambient temperature? As dogs use panting to lower their body temperature, they need additional energy in summer.

- Since pets spend a lot of energy during summer one should ensure that their feeding levels are not reduced and they consume an energy-dense balanced diet.

- Feeding only curd rice (which is high on moisture with 70-80% water) during summer will not meet their daily energy, mineral and vitamin requirements. You may often see your pet tired and lacking energy.

-If your pet is on dry food, try mixing it with gravy/wet food; it adds moisture and is easy to eat. Keep the food quantity in check while adding gravy.

-Feed them during the cooler parts of day, early morning (before 8 am) and late evening (after 7 pm). You may also consider giving them smaller meals by increasing the number of meals to accommodate the daily requirements.

Classic symptoms of heat stroke:
-Check for excessive panting with drooling and high temperature.
-When your pet is weak and isn’t responding to your calls.
-Brick-red gums; rapid heartbeat and vomiting. Remember, if medical attention is delayed, it could be life threatening.

- by Dr Praveen Kumar MVSc (Surgery)

End of the article

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