India’s unforgiving summer heat is already setting in, and one can only imagine with increasing dismay how much hotter it’s going to get in the coming months. While we still have roofs over our heads and ACs to cool us down, our furry friends roaming the streets aren’t that privileged. But, there’s a lot you can do to help them and ensure that they don’t have to face the wrath of the impending summer.
Just follow these simple tips and give the strays something to cheer:
1. Water water everywhere to drink
Animals and birds get easily dehydrated in summers. So it’s good to keep water out for them. It is best to use terracotta or mud bowls for drinking water as they keep the water cool for longer. Make sure you regularly clean and change the water to avoid contamination. Avoid adding extremely chilled water too as it may expose the animal to the risk of a heat stroke. Also remember that the water you place for the animals might dry up quickly, so refill the bowl on a regular basis.
For the birds, you can additionally hang water containers in your balcony, terrace or on trees in your garden so that they don’t have to risk their lives and come to the ground to quench their thirst. It’s also easier for them to spot water containers if they’re placed at a height.
You can also repurpose the water you use for your garden or cool the pavement to help the strays.
2. Providing a roof over their heads
It’s not uncommon to see stray dogs and cats taking shelter under a tree or in the shadow of a tall building. Please be considerate and don’t shoo them away. You can further help them by building a small shelter for them in your compound or near a shady place.
Stray shelters can’t be the same for every season. Use a grass mat as the lining and floor for the shed and use materials like cardboard and cloth for the walls of the shelter. Make sure your shelter is placed in a cool spot and is spacious so that it doesn’t trap heat. You can also add damp towels and sheets to cool them down during the afternoons, when the sun is at its peak.
Always check under your car before starting it because it’s very likely that a stray may have taken shelter under it. If you’re not mindful, you may not only cause severe burns but also inadvertently kill an innocent animal.
3. Pawse to pay attention
Strays get paw burns by walking on the streets outside, so lookout for signs of burns and treat them the right way. Wash the injured paws using antibacterial soap and rinse thoroughly. Pat the injured foot with a clean towel to dry the area. Pour an antiseptic solution like betadine over the burned or blistered paws and allow it to dry. You can later put on soft baby socks on the burnt paws to protect them from further damage and help speed up the healing. Take the dog to a vet if the burn is severe.
You can also purchase special powders and oils and massage your stray’s coat and paws with it. It’ll keep them cool and infections-free.
4. Look out for them
Heat strokes during summers are as common among animals as in humans. Laboured breathing and abnormal head movements are indications of heat stroke. Pour lots of water at room temperature on the animals’ body to cool them down, wipe them with a wet towel, and contact a veterinarian immediately to save the animal’s life.