Summer care for pets

Harsh Indian summers are particularly stressful for our animal friends. “As pets don't sweat through the skin, their body temperature is higher than that of humans,” says veterinarian Dr. S.V. Sujatha. “It is very difficult to revive a pet that has had heat stroke. Even a 2-3 degree increase in temperature will damage the brain. Ensure that water is available to them at all times and check for dehydration symptoms such as dryness of mouth and sluggishness. Water intake must correspond to urine output — check this during walks. And some pets prefer wet food in summer.”

Apart from keeping two full water bowls at home, care must be taken to ensure that the pet is kept indoors. Pets must have access to breeze from a fan at all times and must be taken for walks during early mornings or after sunset. Lastly, it is not advisable to leave a pet or baby inside a locked vehicle (even if the windows are rolled down) for even one minute as the temperature shoots up rapidly inside vehicles and could cause instant death. Every summer, several such deaths occur across the world due to lack of awareness.

As for community animals, Blue Cross of India has returned with their annual Water Bowl Project (started by Sarita Raturi in Mumbai) for birds and homeless animals as they are the biggest casualty of heat stroke. Says Nandita Saha, Blue Cross volunteer and IT professional, “Chennai summers are terrible. The number of street animals we've seen dying of dehydration is huge. The Water Bowl Project is as simple as keeping a cement bowl filled with water in front of your house, and filling it when it gets empty.” Nandita is enthused by the success of the project. “Three months back, I received an email with a picture of dogs still drinking from a bowl installed last summer! We expected the momentum to last just two months but it is still going strong.”

Blue Cross is offering these sturdy bowls free of charge at their Velachery shelter (home delivery has a nominal charge). To order a water bowl, log on to bluecrossofindia.org or call 8056288026.

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