Sizzling Summer Woes & Their Solutions
Dr Suranjan Sarkar
Most breeds are originally from western countries, where summers are much cooler as compared to the sizzling summers we face.
When western breeds are brought to tropical climate, the story becomes a bit difficult. They have to face temperatures around 40 degrees during summers and high humidity during monsoons. Being unable to cope with such harsh weather, lot of them become sick. As pet parents you want to help them, but lack of knowledge or wrong information (mostly from the internet), can worsen the situation.
A lot of breeds common in India are long aired (Labrador, German Shepherds, Golden Retriever, Pomeranian, etc.) They have two coats, popularly known as a double coat or mixed coat. April – May is the season of shedding of these breeds. This process of shedding winter coat is known as moulting. This is a natural process of replacing heavy winter coat with a lighter one. Sometimes shedding is so heavy that managing it becomes difficult.
Daily brushing of the coat is so important.
These are commonly known as rashes. During spring there are bushes with young leaves and inquisitive furry friends love to meander into these bushes. They return with flea or mosquito bites which cause intense itching and swelling.
- Inspect their whole body when they return from their evening walk. Look for plant sting, fleas, ticks clinging to their body. Gently take them out with a tweezer.
Loss of appetite
This is the first noticeable change we see when the temperature rises. They give up eating or eat less.
- This is somewhat natural as their energy requirement decreases during summer months.
Ticks, fleas, mites
There are more incidences of ticks or flea bite in summer. These parasites burrow inside the skin and make a hole. Sometimes, there might be maggots also in the site of tick bites. Unfortunately, some pet parents only notice tick bite wound when maggot starts coming out from wounds.
- Apply anti-tick spot on treatment, or use tick collars to keep ticks at bay.
Heat stress, heat stroke or heat exhaustion
Our pets are seen heavily panting in summer. This means they are in stress due to heat. Dogs sweat from areas not covered by hair such as nose or paws. As the body temperature rises their body tries to cool it down by panting or through sweating. When their body can no longer maintain the optimum body temperature, they go to the stage of having heat stroke or heat exhaustion.
- Recognise the signs of heat stress such as drooling, panting, faster heartbeat, exercise intolerance, sunken eyes, and dehydration.
- Take them to a cooler place, Wrap a towel soaked in water around with fan on. Don’t rub ice.
- Never take your pet who is drooling excessively or panting too hard into an air conditioned room. The sudden temperature difference can clog their pores, and the overall body temperature will increase.
Fungal infections are especially on the rise during monsoons, a stinking smell is due to fungal infection.
- Bathe your dog as required. Groom every day.
Ear infection becomes common during warmer months. Some of the common symptoms of ear infections include ear scratching, hematoma, tilting of the head to one side, bad odour.
• Regular examination of the ear by a veterinarian is recommended.
This is actually a consequence of tick infestation. Ticks secrete their toxins into the blood of your pet. This toxin causes ehrlichiosis or bleeding disorder. If your pet is affected there might be bleeding from nose, anus, skin, and eyes. Bleeding from nose might also be due to heat.
There are some pet parents who shave their pet’s hair in summer. This is dangerous! Shaving causes exposure of skin to direct sunlight causing sunburns. Clipping some hair might help but never shave.
Last but not the least is separation anxiety. Can you imagine what has separation anxiety got to do with summer problems. Summer holidays when pets are left behind create separation anxiety. Before leaving do ensure the caretakers/guardians are able to take proper care and your pet feels comfortable with them.
(Dr Suranjan Sarkar, BVSc & AH, PGDECM from Madras Veterinary College (Chennai), runs Pluto Pet Clinics in Ranchi).