Cool tips for hot summer
Unlike humans, dogs can’t cool themselves by sweating. The main way a dog cools off is by panting. But in extremely hot and humid weather conditions, panting is not enough to dissipate excess heat from the body. This may result in non fever hyperthermia or heat stroke. Find out how you can keep your dog cool and comfortable in summers.
As heat stroke in dogs is a life-threatening condition, keeping your pooch cool is of prime importance. Heat stress is usually characterised by excess panting, sluggish movement, weakness, increased salivation and dark red gums. Early detection and prompt actions can save your pet. Here are some practical and helpful tips that’ll help your pet beat the heat.
Keep your pet indoor: During the hottest part of the day, pet should be inside the house. Air coolers are not recommended if you live in high humidity climatic conditions. In such weather ACs always work best.
Provide constant access to fresh, cool water: Keep a water bowl filled with fresh, cool water at all times near their place of rest. Make sure that the water bowl isn’t kept in direct sunlight and you change the water 2 -3 times a day. It has been observed that cleanliness of water plate, availability of fresh water and provision of water at 2 – 3 places stimulates the desire of water intake by dogs. Pet parents must ensure hydration status of animal by skin tent test and frequency, volume and color of urine output.
Only at home: Of course, there is no comparison of all these to your home. There will be nothing like you and your pet dozing off in your air-conditioned room at home during hot summer days. In such hot season, keep your dog inside the house with family and walk only after the sun goes down in the cooler evening hours of the day.
Cooling dog bed: Apart from a cool, shady place to relax, dog needs a bed that is nice, soft and doesn’t get too warm. A cooling dog bed offers the comfort and softness of a typical dog bed with the coolness that our furry companions crave.
A gel-like material or simply water in the bed draws the heat out from dog’s body and keeps the bed cool. Having a cooling dog bed is a great idea. It would avoid your pet sleeping on floor, thus preventing him from various infections.
Allow him to play in water: Give your dog somewhere to get wet and play in water. Setting up a small wading pool or a large tub in a shady spot might be a great addition in the yard. Dogs enjoy playing and lounging in water.
While your pet enjoys splashing around, you need to be extra cautious. Make sure that he should be able to stand on the bottom of the pool with his head above the water. Change the water frequently and don’t leave the pool full when not in use, as it may attract mosquitoes. Other means of cooling especially for puppies may be sprinkler, water fountain, misting fans, aerosols and sandbox with wet sand.
Change walk timings: Avoid midday walks. Early morning and night is the best time to take them for walk. But if you have to take them during the day, choose shady, cool places and take leisurely walks. To prevent over-exertion, manage dog’s activity by putting him on a leash. Avoid letting your pet’s paws touch hot pavement. The severe heat can burn his paws. Choose grass fields over concrete or pavements for unavoidable afternoon walks.
When dog is out on a hot day, carry water for him. If dog is panting or seems sluggish, stop in a shady area to offer water. If the dog won’t drink, pour the water over his body.
Avoid car rides during the day: Avoid travelling with dog by car when it’s extremely hot outside. If unavoidable, use the air conditioner. Also carry along water for your pet.
Be careful–never leave your pet in the car unattended, especially in summer, even with the windows open. This is dangerous as the heat levels inside a car can shoot up rather quickly. Your pet may overheat in just a few minutes leading to heat stroke which can be fatal.
Clipping dog’s fur: If your pet has thick, long coat, then you can get it clipped during summer. Keep in mind not to shave the dog completely. This leaves the skin exposed to direct sunlight and can increase the chances of sunburn. Avoid clipping the fur at home and go to a professional dog grooming salon.
Dog food and Cool treats: During the hot summer months your pet’s appetite may see a gradual fall. Just like us, they also love to have something cold and refreshing. Chilled or frozen dog treats are a great way to surprise your pet.
You can also gradually shift the meal timings of your pet before noon and during late evening hours. Incorporate probiotics i.e. curd, yogurt, yeast preparation (tab. Sporlac or tab Nutrolin-B) in the daily diet to maintain proper appetite.
Check on your dog regularly: On very warm days, watch your dog’s condition closely. If anything seems unusual, such as excessive panting or loose motion, consult your vet immediately.
If your dog has a kennel outside, bring him in inside the house. Cool him down by keeping him in an air conditioned place. Wrap cloths soaked in cold water around paws, in armpits and on the back of head. Run cold water so that the skin is continuously cooled.
Place a fan in front of dog to promote cooling evaporation. Trickle small amounts of cool water from a teaspoon onto the tongue if the dog is panting or has collapsed from heat exhaustion. It will help keep the dog cool through evaporation. Do not allow water to work its way down the throat if the dog is unconscious. Take him to the vet immediately.
When you take these little precautions, it’ll help your pet have a happy and safe summer. And that’s all pet parents want.
(Dr Anuradha Nema is Assistant Professor at the Department of Veterinary Surgery & Radiology, College of Veterinary Science & Animal Husbandry, Rewa, Madhya Pradesh and Dr Vichar Nema is Assistant Commandant in Siddarth Nagar, UP).
Dog toy filled with various mixtures – Yogurt, bananas, canned dog food, ground meat,
diced carrots and apples, mini dog treats etc. Freeze it overnight before serving.
Doggie ‘Ice Cream’
To prepare doggie ice cream mix 1 ripe banana, 200 gm of plain yogurt and 1 tablespoon
of peanut butter (can add finely diced carrots, apples or lean meat). Pour mixture into
three or four different small plastic moulds and freeze overnight.
Puppy Ice Pops
Chicken or beef broth-Freeze overnight in ice cube trays.
Cut fresh watermelon into chunks and freeze them.