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Summer months in India are bound to bring seemingly unending very hot days. With the rising mercury, heat Strokes, dehydration and even sunburns are common conditions that humans suffer from. Dogs are no exception when it comes to rising temperatures. And no matter how well we know our canine companions, it is very important to know and realize that we are not medical professionals.
However, by taking simple precautions, we can protect our companion animals from the scorching heat and ensure that we have fun all summer long.
• First and foremost, get your dog’s vaccination records reviewed if necessary. Parvo Virus, Distemper and Rabies remain ever–present threats and can prove to be very harmful, sometimes even fatal if timely precautions are not taken.
• Ensure that you provide lots of fresh drinking water to the dog. The water should be changed at least once daily and stored away from direct sunlight in clean containers, preferably tip–proof.
• Give your pet an access to your house during the heat of the day. Two to Three p.m is the hottest time of the day and hence providing your dog a door to cooler space than the outdoors is a great idea. For a house with a garage, installing a Doggie door is an alternative if it cannot be inside the house. Dogs learn to use the door very quickly.
• Dogs are basically den creatures and want the security of being somewhat confined. Hence if it is strictly an outdoor pet, there should be adequate protection from direct sunlight and thunderstorms in the form of a well-ventilated dog house or kennel.
• Long – coated dogs should be trimmed to at least one inch hair length and groomed regularly. They should, however, not be shaved completely to the skin as this would rob them of protection from the sun. Though this is against the urban myth that a thick coat is insulating and if trimmed , the dog can be prone to a heat stroke. However, it should be known that mats can easily form on long–haired animals thus causing skin infections and ulcers. One should check the pet’s coat and skin frequently as serious and harmful skin diseases are a common occurrence during summer months. Further, to control the disease risk from fleas and ticks, the veterinarian should be consulted for preventative products and measures.
• Knowing the signs of heat stroke can prove to be really handy. An overheated dog is sure to become dull and sluggish, disoriented and bewildered and often, panting heavily with thick saliva. While the tongue and membranes in the mouth turn dark red some pets may also vomit frequently leading to dehydration. It is worth a mention that though Dogs have the ability to sweat, they are different from humans in where the sweat glands are. Dogs sweat through their pads and feet as their skin does not have sweat glands such as ours. Their most effective way of getting rid of heat is by panting. Dogs with compromised respiration, like Bulldogs, Pugs, Boston Terriers, Lhasa Apsos & Shih Tzu’s are at a very high risk of easily overheating just because they can't pant very efficiently. In such a condition, the dog should be brought into a cooler area, and the veterinarian should be consulted without delay.
• Older and Overweight dogs need extra attention in hot weather. These dogs, the former due to their age and decreasing body resistance level and the latter due to bulk have difficulty in breathing easily and are at higher risk of heat–related problems.
• Very Important! Sudden change of temperature can be very harmful. A dog sitting for a major part of the day in an Air Conditioned room will be an easy prey to heat if it is sent out directly in the Sun from the Air Conditioned room. And should you wish to travel along with your Dog in your car, keep him away from the direction of air flow coming from the Air Conditioner vent. Further, turn off the Air Conditioner at least 10–12 minutes prior to your final halt or when the dog has to come out of the cold environment into natural heat and sunlight. This way, his body would have already started to adjust and the change in temperature will not be that sudden and dangerous.
Remember, it should be our earnest effort to provide our loving mates with a comfortable and easy environment to the best of our abilities at all times. This is the least we can do for those who shower their selfless and undiluted love on us.
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