KOCHI:Three-year-old Cookie will soon get an air conditioner. Although Cookie spends all her time indoors, and always beneath a fan, the surging heat has spurred Cookie’s owner to set up an Air Conditioner at her home.
“The rising heat prompted us to buy an AC for her. She spends all her time under the fan but finds it difficult to beat the heat nowadays. We have also cut down on the protein-rich diet and added seasonal fruits in her diet,” says Arya Lekshmi who is going to all lengths to ensure that her pet pug sails through the summer.
If you have a fur baby at home, chances are you might have already seen her panting and puffing away. It is the heat, you might have said. But if you happen to see their mucous membranes-eyes, gum, and tongue-turn deep pink, that is trouble.
With the mercury hitting new levels, the pets bear most of the burden. “Heat stress can lead to death if not taken care of in time. It is best to prevent heat stress rather than treat heat stress,” says Annie Varghese, senior veterinary surgeon, District Veterinary Centre, Thiruvananthapuram who has been practicing for the past 26 years. “As the dogs cannot express, we have to observe and be alert,” she adds. “Dogs bred in very cold places such as St Bernard, Siberian Husky and Pug find it very difficult to manage in hot summer and should be kept indoors,” she says. Use AC and not an air cooler as the latter increases humidity, the vet advises.The doctor shares tips on the things to take care of during the summer season.
Signs of Heat Stress
The changing of the colour of the mucous membranes, excessive panting, a fan-shaped tongue sticking out from the mouth, are some of the initial signs. It can then progress into nasal bleeding and blood in saliva. “If you see signs of heat stress, immediately push the animal under water. That is the first aid. Give him cold water to drink, take it to a cool place. You should then take it to the vet as the temperature has to be monitored to ensure that the dog has overcome the heat stress,” she says.
Diet: Never feed the dog during hot hours of the day and cool water must be available to them at all times of the day. Include fruits and vegetables in the diet. “All fruits except grapes can be given. Cooling fruits such as watermelon and pomegranate can also be added,” she adds. If the animal isn’t drinking enough water, reduce dry food (Kibbles). A heavy protein and carbohydrate-rich diet aren’t advised. Avoid snacks and bakery items.
Kennel:If the dog is kept in a kennel, the kennel should allow cross ventilation. In case the roofing is made of asbestos or tin sheet, a temporary second roof need to be provided. This can be a thatched palm leaf roof made one foot above the primary roof to prevent heat accumulation in the kennel, the vet adds. Outdoor dogs can be given a chance to move around and they will find a cool place for themselves. Do not tie the dog on the terrace or balcony.
Grooming: The dog should be bathed at least twice a week. The longer and thicker their fur is, the heat gets accumulated in the body. Long-haired dogs should be given a summer cut. Ensure regular brushing of long-haired dogs as it can help remove the dirt as well as keep the skin open for some heat dissipation.
Exercise: Dogs on the heavier side are affected more. Keep your animal slim and trim, the doctor advices. The dogs should be exercised only during cool hours of the day.
Travelling: While travelling with pets, either AC should be on or the windows should be down. The dog should not be kept in a stationary vehicle.
Vaccination:The summer is the time when many diseases flare up. The dogs should be well protected with all its vaccination.