Holy Humidity, Batman! This has been one oppressive week of heat and humidity. For us curly haired girls, this means very big hair, and not in a good way. I suppose it also depends on where you are located. I am in New Jersey and this week has been too much. As I am observing my neighborhood, I see animals both domestic and wild and sympathize with them. If we think we are uncomfortable, they are even more so, especially our domesticated animals. Wild animals suffer as well, but they instinctively know where to go to cool off, find a stream, get some shade, and lay low. As long as humans haven't taken away their natural resources (a whole other topic), most wild animals can survive a heat spell. The older and the youngest suffer the most, same as with humans.
Domestic animals have a harder time. Because they rely on us for everything, it is up to us to make sure they are comfortable and managing the heat properly. This may mean we have to spend more money on electric due to fans and ACs, but that is part of the cost of keeping an animal companion. Here are some tips to help you help your companions:
1- Shorten walks. You may need to do more walks that are shorter during this heatwave. Not only is the air unbearable, but the ground is extremely hot and can burn their paw pads. Imagine walking barefoot on the asphalt or concrete?
2- Remove any cute clothing. This is not the time to adorn your companions with stylish clothes. For that matter, get them a summer haircut appropriate for their breed.
3- Do not keep your companion outside for extended periods of time, and especially do not keep them outside tethered. Your companions are meant to be in the home with you. Even if your companion normally likes spending time outside, it is much too hot now. They should be able to come inside at will. Tethering is a hard NO all the time. Would you like to be chained to a post all day?
4. Provide plenty of fresh clean water. If you fill the bowl in the morning, make sure you check it frequently throughout the day and change it often. Bacteria can grow easily in the hot weather. Plus, cool water feels great on a hot day.
5. Many animals will eat less when it is exceedingly hot. Don't worry too much about that, as long as they are eating. Water is the most important. Keep an eye on them, however. If they stop eating and develop other symptoms, call the vet immediately.
6. Keep at least one room cool all the time. I know A/C can be costly but that is the just part of the deal. Babies, elderly, and animals are especially susceptible to heat stroke and the like. It is your responsibility to provide a space that is cool and comfortable.
7. Give them ice cubes, to lick or chomp, pet them with a cool wet washcloth, minimize activity that will increase their body temperature. Little Bear especially liked the cool washcloth petting and I would sometimes hold it gently under his arm pits and inguinal area. I wouldn't hold for long, but just when I noticed he was exceptionally warm. A cool (not cold) bath can also be lovely.
8. Pay attention. Now the signs your companion displays when there is a dramatic temperature change.
9. When in doubt, call your vet. You don't have to rush them to the vet for every pant or symptom. Most vets will answer basic questions and be able to recommend if there is a need for medical treatment.
10. Use your head. every being handles temperatures differently. Know your breed and know your specific animal.
For us here in NJ, this heatwave should be ending soon. Hang in there! For other areas of the world, monitor the weather and keep these tips handy. Don't forget to keep yourself hydrated as well!