Summer is here. The problem of heat is compounded for our companion animals on account of their fur coats, and it’s important to keep them safe in the coming months. The first step is to ensure that access to clean drinking water is constant (both during day and night) – not just for dogs, but also cats and other pets. Since ventilation is key, leave a fan running for the pet in the room he’s in. Avoid tying or confining animals to any area where they are exposed to the sun – this includes balconies that don’t have adequate shade, kennels or worse yet, outside at the gates or on terraces. Every year, several companion animal deaths due to dehydration are reported due to the above reasons.

For dogs, restrict your walking times to non-peak times before 10 am or after 6 pm, to avoid tar-burns on their paws. Also avoid strenuous activity and games outdoors during this season. If you have any semi-adopted community pets (such as cats or dogs that live outdoors in your locality that you feed regularly), leave a cement bowl filled with water at your gate for them. This also helps birds who have less and less access to drinking water due to loss of habitat.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is leaving their pets in their vehicles while they pop in to a grocery store or a bank for a minute. Even with the windows rolled down, death from heat stroke can result in as little as one minute as temperatures skyrocket inside parked vehicles. If you are going to a place that does not allow pets, leave pets at home or put off these errands.

The website of Humane Society (US) lists these signs of dehydration that owners must watch for – “heavy panting, difficulty breathing, lethargy, fever, lack of coordination, vomiting, profuse salivation, seizure or unconsciousness”. They recommend moving the affected animal to an air-conditioned area (or shade), applying ice packs or cold towels and letting the animal drink small sips of cool water or lick ice cubes. They also recommend running cool (not cold) water over the pet.

Following first aid, rush the pet to a veterinarian as every moment is precious. For more information on issues such as how to keep pets cool during power outages in summer, visit their website at http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/ tips/pets_safe_heat_wave.html