Climate change is real, they say. I have no intention of getting into that discussion here. But one thing’s for sure – Bangalore is hot now and we are all struggling to cope with this unforgiving heat. I can feel my energy sap each day. Everyday activities seem like award-worthy achievements. As I relax each evening under the fan with a glass of buttermilk in my hand and congratulate myself for having pulled through another blistering day, I wonder what my dogs are going through. I know that they have it a lot harder, so I have to work extra to ease their discomfort during this time of the year. Here is what you need to know about canine care in summer.
First up, you need to understand that dogs can dehydrate and overheat a lot easier than we can. Dogs regulate their temperature with their snouts. That means, dogs with shorter snouts find it harder still. Extremely furry dogs that were meant for cold climates also need special attention. Our very own native dogs are perhaps going to find it marginally easier. But this summer heat is going to spare no one.
Hydration is one of the most important things to keep in mind. Make sure your dog has fresh, cool water at all times of the day. For dogs that will drink it, unsalted buttermilk and coconut water are also good options. Just don’t give anything ice cold, as the extreme change in temperature can cause bigger problems. We even carry a sippy water bottle on walks for them. These days, there are a few pet-water bottles available. Look it up to see if something works for you.
Keep dogs indoors during the harshest parts of the day. Don’t walk on hot asphalt or risk severe dehydration by walking during hot hours. If you are travelling by car, don’t ever leave the dog in a closed car during these months. Even a few minutes are enough to do real damage.
At home, do all you can to keep your dog cool. Keep the fan on where your dog tends to spend most of her day. Provide light cotton blankets on the floor for them instead of thick beds. Some might like damp towels to sit on. Some dogs might like a damp floor to cool their belly on. There are cooling blankets available in the market that your dog might appreciate.
If you are going in for a summer cut for long-coat dogs, be careful with how much fur you trim off. Shaving the dog off fully is not a good idea. Dogs use their fur to capture thin films of air to help regulate body temperature.
A full shave can also cause sunburn.
It’s also a good idea to spritz cool water on your dog during particularly hot days, or after walks. Or try wiping their belly and under their paws with a damp towel. If you have a tub, you could fill some water in it and allow your dog to splash around in it. Some dogs will splash around in their water bowls and then sit on the spilled water. Just about anything to beat the heat, right?
Here, I must tell you about my teacher’s dog. Every summer, my teacher fills up a little kiddy tub with water for his dog to cool in. Last summer, the dog was very grateful for the tub. But he decided a few others needed this too. So he brought all his stuffed toys and put them in the tub. He gets it! Summers are hot for all and we help each other cope.