The intense heat and humidity is hard not only for people but for dogs as well. Our vets provide practical tips for how to keep your furbaby cool and safe during the blistering months Text: Team Buddy Life
It has been a long-drawn summer this time. With soaring temperatures, the heat is unbearable for all, especially for our pooches. Summer can mean lots of fun outdoors with your beloved pets. But there are some precautions that we need to take to protect our pet. Whether it’s a walk outdoors, or a car ride or just to play in the park, it is important to keep our furry friend safe and healthy. “Although pets have their own way of physiological adaptation to overcome this problem, at the same time we can also help them to rise over this heat stress problem by providing a suitable diet,” says Dr Aditya Pratap Soni, Department of Veterinary Medicine, College of Veterinary Science, Jabalpur.
Just as our diets change during the hot weather, our canine companions should also be offered food that has a cooling effect on their bodies. According to Dr Pradyut Kr Sarmah, Director, Pet & Vet, Guwahati, “The ideal diet for your furry friends during this summer season will be normal food what you provide in daily basis but you can add lots of watermelons, cucumber, coconut water and mangoes since these foods contains more water.”
Agrees Dr Seema Talokar, product manager (Companion Animal), Vetina Healthcare LLP. According to Dr Talokar, “The ideal summer diet for canines is lighter and fresh meals. One must select foods that have a cooling effect on the body. For convenience, you can opt for processed wet or dry food.” She mentions three points to take care of in summer meals for our fur babies:
1. While choosing dry food, select the one which provides a balanced diet of nutrients, minerals, and vitamins. Avoid feeding them anything too fatty.
2. Neutral food options such as salmon, quail, and turkey can be added to a dog’s bowl in moderation.
3. Go for dog food that contains prebiotics, salmon oil, and a mix of fruits and vegetables. A high fibre and low protein diet with lots of vitamins, minerals and plenty of water which increases the process of digestion and absorption also helps maintain the hydration of the pets.
In general, a healthy dog should drink approximately 30-50 ml of water per kg body weight per day. However, breed, age, body condition, and medications also influence how much water your dog needs, explains Dr Aditya Pratap Soni. However, Dr Pratik R Chavelikar, a private practitioner at Vihaan Pet Clinic, Gandhinagar, says, “There is no formula to know how much water your pet should drink each day. This depends on many factors, including pet size, diet, age, activity level and exercise, temperature, health conditions or medications that cause dehydration and weight. Most dogs should consume at least 30 ml of water per kg body weight daily. This can be monitored depending on whether the pet eats wet food (which is mostly water). If the pet is very active, we should encourage him or her to drink more water to stay hydrated.”
Water is one of the essential nutrients our dogs need to live happy and healthy. Our dog’s health and wellness depends on their ability to get the proper amount of water each day. Water has a wide range of positive effects like hydrating brain and blood, lubricating and cushioning joints, body temperature regulation aiding in waste removal, and helping the digestion process. Dr Pradyut Kumar Sarmah adds, “Usually, a dog needs approximately 60-80 ml of water per day per kg of body weight over a period of 24 hrs, but during summer if the dog is going for a walk or playing outside, they would need more water. Some symptoms of dehydration include:
1. Dry sticky gums
2. Excessive panting
3. Sunken or dry looking eyes
4. Foaming, loss of appetite, depression
A common problem faced by several pet parents is their fur babies refrain from drinking water frequently. Keeping your dog hydrated is needed to keep them sound and healthy. Calculating the required water intake depends on several aspects, such as their breed size, activity level, and type of food they eat. “On an average, dogs require around 1 ounce of water per 1 pound of body weight. Your dog’s exercise level and time spent in the sun may call for increased daily water intake. The essential thing is to keep their water bowl filled with fresh, clean water and have plenty of cold water available. If you feel your dog is not drinking enough water, try adding a flavour enhancement (like low-sodium chicken broth), says Dr Talokar.
Other important points to be taken care of, as Dr Rahul Sankhe, Livestock Development Officer Palghar, Maharashtra, says, “Make sure that your pet is protected from ticks, fleas and lice. Ticks are most active from the months of March to mid-May and from mid-August to November. Ticks are active any time the temperature is above freezing point. It is advisable to keep an anti-tick spray handy as it helps to kill ticks and rid your pet from the scratching nightmare. Try to keep your house cool. At home if the pet is alone, make sure they remain in a cool room. Leave the air conditioner on, and close the drapes. If there is no AC , open the windows and turn on a fan. You may want to see if a cooling vest or mat can help.”
Some pro tips for easy summers!
- Do not leave your dog’s dinner out for too long.
- Change up mealtimes to the cooler times of the day.
- Never leave them in a parked car on a hot day.
Make sure you have enough shady areas available for them to relax. Refrain from keeping your pet in a closed car as it can lead to heatstroke and suffocation. On a normal day the temperature inside a car can reach up to 40 degrees Celsius within 10 minutes and up to 120 degrees Celsius if left in direct sunlight. So even if you think it will only take a few minutes, it is a strict no-no. If you’re driving around with your furball in the car, carry water and a bowl with you. Take your pet along when you leave the car. Also, older dogs and obese dogs can’t tolerate heat as well as other dogs can, meaning that they may need more frequent breaks to cool off and rehydrate. Additionally, certain breeds are more susceptible to overheating because of their build. Certain dogs are particularly vulnerable due to their short muzzles. If you have questions about sun exposure, flea prevention or heat exposure, call your vet. The best part of taking care of your pet is one day your baby will tell you with her energy, her vitality, her health and the sparkle in her eyes that you gave her the incredible gift of life and longevity.