animal welfare

Here’s how to take care of your fur babies in this heat

Kaycee Valmonte

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Here’s how to take care of your fur babies in this heat


The Philippine Animal Welfare Society gives tips for fur parents who want to make their pets feel a little bit more comfortable in this heat

MANILA, Philippines – Summer is upon us, and we’re not the only ones feeling the heat – we need to look out for our furry companions, too.

“They’re feeling more or less the same thing that we’re feeling, except they cannot say anything…. So, we have to watch out for their body language to see if we can safely bring them out,” Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) executive director Anna Cabrera told Rappler.

Over the past week, some schools suspended on-site classes as temperatures rose to 40°C or higher. Like humans, pets may also be exposed to heat-related health risks.

It may even be worse for brachycephalic breeds – such as French Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, and Persian cats – which Cabrera said were at risk for heat stroke. These breeds may already have problems even without the heat because of their short noses, which the American College of Veterinary Surgeons said were “prone to difficult, obstructive breathing.”

Here are PAWS’ tips for fur parents who want to make their pets a little bit more comfortable in this heat.

Make fresh, cool water accessible

Your pet should have access to fresh water at all times to help them cool down and eliminate the risk of dehydration.

“Change their water diligently, every day, a few times a day,” Cabrera said.

At PAWS shelters, Cabrera said they have feeding times for dogs and cats. However, they always keep the water bowls full, and it is considered an infraction for caretakers if some of the bowls are left empty.

“Water should always be available, especially in this weather,” she added.

Cool their environment

Owners are reminded to put their pets in an area with proper ventilation and cool air – whether through an electric fan or an air-conditioning system – and shade.

“As long as you make sure that the paw pads are cool, they’re able to pant freely, and they are in an area where you can also stay as a human being, and you’re not feeling any heat, then that’s the ideal situation,” Cabrera said.

Cooling mats are sold in pet stores, which can be put in the fridge before having pets lie on them. But PAWS has some low-cost alternatives:

  • Using water sprays: If it’s too humid, owners can spray cool water in the area to help their pets cool down.
  • Frozen water bottles: Cabrera said owners can repurpose empty water bottles by filling them, waiting for the water to freeze, and then wrapping the bottle with a towel before putting it beside their pet.
Allow them to move around freely

Pets should be allowed to move around freely so they can adjust and choose a different area when it gets too hot for them.

“We want to launch a full-blown campaign against chaining or putting dogs in cages outside kasi (because) in this weather, you’re just baking dogs,” Cabrera said.

PAWS also advocates for the equal treatment of all dogs – whether they are aspins or purebred dogs. Cabrera noted that some families own an aspin, which would be assigned to stay outside to be the family guard dog and feed on leftovers, while the Shih Tzu they bought stays inside the house and eats dog food.

“We have been advocates that dogs are part of the family, so if you can’t bring them into your homes and you just want a burglar alarm system, then you should just get a CCTV, an alarm system – not a dog,” Cabrera said.

Avoid going outside, exercising them when it’s hot

While dogs need exercise, PAWS advises owners against bringing them outside on a hot day. Exercise time may be limited to early in the morning before 7 am or rescheduling their routine at night.

“A very good rule is that if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your dog,” Cabrera said.

Owners are also advised to avoid concrete as these are conductors of heat. If unavoidable, it’s best to check by having owners put one of their palms against the concrete.

Kasi ‘pag napaso ka (Because if you get burnt), then most likely your dog will have burns on the paw pads,” Cabrera said.

Having your pet wear dog shoes is also not advised since one of the ways dogs and cats release heat is by sweating through their paws.

Grooming tips

PAWS said “summer cut” or getting our furry friends a really short haircut is unnecessary.

Missouri-based Willowbrook Veterinary Clinic noted that cutting or shaving a pet’s fur may also affect how they regulate their temperature when it gets too hot. They may be at risk of sunburn or even skin cancer if their fur is shaved off. Their skin may also be exposed to other harmful things.

However, showers can help – but not too much that it removes natural oils.

“Just water to cool down,” Cabrera said, adding that pet owners don’t need to shampoo their fur babies every day.

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Know the red flags

In this heat, PAWS said excessive panting, salivating, and excessive grooming – since they are trying to cool themselves off – can be among the signs that something isn’t right with your pet.

PAWS shelter veterinarian Eizel Ladores noted that some of the common heat-related illnesses for pets include heat stress or heat stroke, urinary problems because of dehydration, and ectoparasites since there would be more ticks around during the warm weather. –

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