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Summertime pet care

Summer is at its peak. This is that time of the year when cat and dog owners get massively worried about their furry friends. There are always questions about what and what not to do. But sometimes, unfortunately, we don’t find the answers before the pet suffers conditions caused by extreme heat. The Week asked Dr Peter Nolosco from Capital Veterinary Clinic some questions about pet care during Oman summers. Here are his answers:

1 Does cropping of fur of dogs and cats help?

Yes, cropping of fur during summer will definitely help in easing the heat, but care should be taken not to shave close to the body – in both cats and dogs. It is always better to leave some hair to avoid skin sensitiveness and sun burns. Dogs which are prone to get depressed after fur removal should not be subjected to this. In Muscat, many own long-haired cats and most owners are now aware about trimming the fur to short.

2 How to treat paw burns from walking on hot pavements? Do paw ointments and balms really offer any protection?

The best way to prevent dogs from getting paw burns is to make them wear shoes on their walks. There are different sizes available in the market and utmost care should be taken to choose the best-fitting ones. Dogs wearing ill-fitting shoes will have difficulty walking. A variety of dog paw ointments and sprays available are effective to a certain extent, but cannot guarantee hundred per cent paw protection during summers.

3 Are dogs more susceptible to paw infections during summers? Is washing their feet a good idea?

Yes, dogs are more susceptible to paw dryness and foot cracks which can lead to various kinds of pad infections. Washing their feet after walks will definitely help cool them. Even soaking the feet in water for a few minutes can be helpful. It is important that the feet are wiped dry completely after each wash.

4 Is it advisable to give pets ice-cold water to drink?

All pets needs fresh, clean drinking water available always. It is not advisable to give them ice-cold water always, but adding one or two cubes of ice to their drinking water is not harmful.

5 Are frequent baths for dogs advisable?

Yes, frequent baths will help to cool their body.

6 Since cats are highly independent creatures, how should one control their wanderings?

I always advise owners not to leave their pets outside. Some prefer keeping their cats as indoor and outdoor cats and this concept is only suitable for Omani cats which have been adopted. As far as breeds are concerned, they have to be kept as complete indoor cats and should be provided with various toys, scratching posts and gear that will make their life indoors equally enjoyable. If the entire family is out for a good part of the day (work, school etc), it is better to introduce another cat of the same breed and same age as a companion.

7 Muscat has many dog breeds that are only suitable for colder climates, like husky, akita, samoyed etc. What special care should be taken for these breeds?

Such breeds need special care. They should be kept in an air-conditioned environment 24/7, and walked early mornings and late nights, when it is cooler. Their owners should carry dog water bottles on walks. If the dogs pant or get excessively thirty on their walks, they should be given water and taken back home. Vehicles should be cooled down well before putting in the dog and trips during mid-day or when the heat is maximum should be avoided.

8 What are the skin infections that occur in summer? How can they be prevented?

Dogs are susceptible to various skin infections and allergies like hot spots, fleas, ear infections… However, sun burns and other solar-induced diseases are most common. Some more sensitive breeds even get skin cancer because of sun exposure.

9 Is heavy shedding common in summer?

Yes. Shedding can be avoided to a large extent if owners know how to care for their dogs in this season.There are lot of supplements available in the market and your veterinarian will guide you to select the best supplement that enriches the skin and reduces shedding.

10 Is it right to pets in the shade outdoors?

Dogs should not be left out side even in a shaded area. They should should be indoors or in a room outdoors that is air conditioned. Cats and birds should be also kept indoors and the room temperature should be maintained with fresh, clean drinking water available always.

11 Is a change in diet required?

Dogs should be encouraged to drink more water to avoid dehydration. If your dog eats wet food, make it more watery. Dogs that don’t drink sufficient water should be force-fed using a syringe or by other means. For cats on a diet of homemade food, adding extra water to their meals will keep them hydrated. I repeat that water consumption should be encouraged. Once can also add special electrolyte powders to water and make sure their pet drinks this at least once a day.

12 How to know if your dog has suffered a heat stroke?

It is very easy to know when your pet is suffering from heat stress. He will not eat or drink properly, pant excessively, have open-mouthed exhausted breathing, salivate, have discharge from eyes. In severe cases the dog may not be able to stand, display lateral recumbency, or bleed from nostrils. If you see any of these symptoms, call the vet immediately?

13 What to do immediately before seeing the vet?

The pet should be immediately brought in a well air conditioned room and given water to drink. Packs of ice can be placed in the body to cool it.