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The sweltering Indian summers are just around the corner and so are the possibilities of your dog and cat being exposed to dehydration and a possible heat stroke. While we can’t control the climate, we can surely take all the precautions to keep our pets safe from the heat. Here’s everything you need to know about dehydration and heat stroke in pets.
A heat stroke is a serious life-threatening heat-related illness that is caused due to excessive heat or severe dehydration. If you live in cities that get really hot, you must take extra care to keep your pet safe from the heat.
Ensure your pet receives plenty of fresh drinking water at all times. Keep your pet’s water bowls in different places around the house so they’re always reminded to stay hydrated. For your cat, remember to not let them drink milk as most cats are lactose intolerant.
Remember: Each dog and cat is different and so are their hydration needs. Weight, age and breed also play a significant role, so keep these factors in mind when adding water to their diet.
Keep your pet away from direct sunlight during peak summers. Close your windows and make sure the curtains are drawn, especially between 12-4 pm in the day. Always have some form of ventilation by keeping the AC on at a comfortable temperature or by placing standing fans at a safe distance from where your pet usually prefers to sleep or relax.
HUFT Tip: Power outages are extremely common in India. Hence, you’ll want to be prepared. Look out for signs mentioned above and keep your pet hydrated.
Add wet dog food or wet cat food to your pet’s diet. Wet pet food has high water content that can provide additional hydration, especially if your pet is fussy when it comes to drinking water. If you do continue to feed kibble, hydrate it in some water or broth and then feed. Always keep a bowl of water next to the food since kibble is dry in nature. This is also a great time to introduce fruits like melons, apples, berries - these are rich in water and can have a cooling effect on dogs.
HUFT Tip: Make it a note to check if your pet’s wet food is complete or complementary. If it’s the latter, you’d have to mix dry dog or cat food with it. Consult your vet before making any changes to your pet’s diet.
Walks are extremely important, especially if you have a dog. Cats, too, love to explore the outside. However, it’s advised to stay indoors when the sun is at its peak—between 10 AM and 6 PM. Early mornings or late evenings are the best times to step out. Avoid pavements as they can harm your pet’s paws. Always carry plenty of clean water.
NEVER leave your dog or cat alone in a parked car. Even if the windows are cracked, the lack of ventilation can trigger a heat stroke. Remember to always have the AC on and keep them hydrated.
The key to summer grooming is to trim and not shave. Many pet parents feel that no fur would make our pet’s bodies cooler. However, that’s a misconception. Your pet’s fur helps them insulate their body from taking on too much heat. Moreover, shaving fur can cause a lot of skin allergies and infections.
The heat can also make your pet’s fur a home for ticks and fleas. If your pet has long hair, combing during cooler parts of the day can help remove any knots or excess shedded fur. It also gives you a chance to check for ticks and fleas.
READ MORE: How To Get Rid Of Ticks And Fleas
Believe it or not, your pet’s breed also plays a role in how vulnerable they are to heat. For dogs, if you have a brachycephalic (flat-faced) breed like a Pug, Bulldog or French Bulldog, their short snouts make them more sensitive to hot weather. Working or hunting breeds such as Golden Retrievers or German Shepherds can also get hotter faster. Cool areas in the house, access to different surfaces and rooms that the dogs can choose themselves to cool themselves down will be super helpful for these dogs. For cats, long-haired breeds will require extra attention and care.
A normal body temperature for both cats and dogs is different. For dogs, the ideal body temperature needs to be not more than 39.4°C (103°F ). While for cats, the ideal body temperature needs to be not more than 39.167°C (102.5º F).
The best answer is water. Let your dog drink as much cool water as they wish to. Remember to not give them iced water since it can be counterproductive. It’s best to rush your pet to the nearest vet in case you find symptoms of dehydration or heat stroke.
To check if your dog is dehydrated, look out for the signs. Early signs include heavy panting, loss in energy causing frequent breaks while walking, excessive drooling, excessive drooling, dry and sticky gums and loss in appetite. More severe symptoms can be sudden rise in body temperature, vomiting, diarrhoea and irregular or fast heartbeat.
Some symptoms of dehydration in cats include heavy panting and drooling, excessive grooming in an attempt to cool off, loss of appetite and energy, dry and sticky gums. More severe symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, increased body temperature and restlessness.
You can feed your pet some wet dog food or wet cat food if you feel they’re dehydrated. Fruits like melons, apples, berries are rich in water and can have a cooling effect on dogs. For cats, you can feed them some watermelon and cucumber. Remember to consult your vet before making any changes to your pet’s diet.
There is no fixed answer for this question. Since each pet reacts to heat differently, so will be the duration of their symptoms. The symptoms and the treatment, all depend on the first-aid and care that your pet receives from you and the veterinarian.
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