Summer Treats

Publication: Bangalore Mirror;Date: Apr 15, 2014;Section: City;Page: 4

 I feel like I am melting this summer and refuse to wear anything other than cotton at this time of the year. Think of the fur coats that our canine companions have to keep on at all times — breaks your heart, doesn’t it? Of course, our native breeds fare a bit better. They have nice long snouts that help them regulate body temperature, thanks to a cavity they have in their snout to serve this purpose. Their coat length is just perfect. Not too long, and yet long enough to capture a film of air to keep the skin temperature regulated. They are also lean. But all other breeds, particularly the dogs with shorter snouts, longer fur, and more fat, really bear the brunt of the summer heat. So here are some tips to ease their discomfort. 

    First, a note of caution — DO NOT shave them bald. The fur is necessary to trap air and keep them cool. So go for a light trim. Moreover, shaved off fur does not always grow back. 

    Second, an alert — Do not feed them anything from the freezer. Dogs are not the best at regulating body temperature. So the extremes in temperature can be quite damaging. ACs are also not the best of solutions, particularly for dogs with short snouts as it can dehydrate their mucous membrane, making it harder to breathe. Imagine the brain freeze you have when you swallow crushed ice. An exaggerated version of that is what the dog feels. So no ice, no shaving. 

    Your mantra this summer should be hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Give your dog as much room temperature water as he wants. Some dogs prefer drinking directly from the tap. Do grant him that luxury. After all he has the burden of his fur to bear. Some dogs will romp around in the water bowl and then lie in the water they have managed to spill. I’d suggest you help them and add to the water on the floor by mopping the floor, leaving it wet and putting a fan near it. The cool tiles will bring them some relief. 

    While it’s not great to feed ice, adding some ice to their meal is not a bad idea. It will cool down the entire meal and make it easier to eat. Try feeding diluted curd or buttermilk, if your dog is not lactose-intolerant. Don’t expect your dog to be too enthusiastic about food in general. Appetite and energy levels drop. There can be excessive shedding too. The dogs can be irritable, less interested in hugs and cuddles, and generally aloof. Think of the fur jacket and let the poor dog be. 

    There are a few cooling mats and jackets available in the market. But I am always nervous trying them out as I fear the consequences of the dog chewing through them in frustration. I prefer putting out damp old towels. Or wiping down the dog with a damp cloth a few times a day. However, if you have a dog with several folds in the skin, like a boxer or a pug, take care not to leave the folds moist. Those must be dry at all times. 

    And now for a fun recipe — Chilled Yogurt. All you need is a fruit — watermelon, banana, mango, apple, pear, and papaya are safe bets. Get rid of the seeds. Dice or grate the fruit. Add the fruit, two cups of curd, honey for taste, some cinnamon powder, and two tablespoons of unsalted peanut butter into a blender and run it. Pour the mixture into small cups that you get with takeaway food. Put them in the fridge (but not in the freezer). When it’s time to feed, leave the cup out for a few minutes, then serve it in the parking lot or garden because it can get messy. But there is nothing cuter than watching a dog grasp the cup between his paws and go at the treat. 

    Enjoy your summer and be kind to your dogs. Remember the fur coat? They have it hard this time of the year, so cut them some slack! 

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