Keep pets safe in the heat

In case of diarrhea, which is common during summers, what food should be served to cats and dogs?
Naveen Singh, New Delhi

Diarrhea is not a single symptom. It is usually one of many symptoms that come when a dog is suffering from heat stroke.

These are other symptoms like:

*  Incessant panting, restlessness, weakness, ataxia (wobbliness, difficulty walking), drooling, vomiting, bright red, gray, purple, or bluish gums, collapse. 

*Seizures, bruising (first appears as pinpoint bruises that can be mistaken for a “rash”), diarrhea (sometimes bloody).

First Aid for Heatstroke:
*Get your dog out of the sun, ideally into an air-conditioned home. Lay your dog on a cool surface (tile flooring is great) and direct a fan on him or her.
* Take and record rectal temperature.
 * Place cool, wet towels over the back of the neck, armpits, and groin areas; wet earflaps and paws with cold water.
  *Get to your vet or the local emergency veterinarian.

What should not be done:
*Don’t use cold water or ice. This causes the blood vessels in the skin to constrict, trapping heat in the body’s core, where it’s causing the most damage.
 * Don’t overcool your dog. Once the rectal temperature drops to 103 F (dog) and in case of cats 102 F, stop the measures described above and get to the vet if you haven’t left already.
  *Don’t force your dog to drink; it’s okay to have a bowl of fresh cool water available if your dog is interested in drinking on his or her own.

  The traditional diet should be highly digestible, low in fat and fibre.

 * Give their digestive system a rest by not feeding anything for 24 hours (six hours for pups < 4 months). On the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th day, feed only the bland diet at the amounts listed below. On day five, six, and seven add an equal amount of your dog’s regular food to the listed amount of bland diet. On day eight feed regular food.

  *If your dog is not improving within two-three days, gets worse over the next 24 hours, or gets back to normal but the problem recurs after he/she is back on regular food, call your veterinarian for an appointment. Bring a stool sample with you – use a plastic spoon and scoop some up, then put spoon and stool in a ziplock bag.

  This is not a balanced or complete diet. It should not be fed for more than a week at a time.

Recipe for bland diet (makes about five cups – recipe can be doubled for large dogs/cats)

  *1 cup raw white long-grain rice.
  *1 cup two per cent or less-fat cottage cheese.
 * Six cups water.
 * Boil rice, meat, and water. Turn to low and cover. Simmer 25 minutes, turn off and let sit for 20 to 30 minutes (it should be mushy). Add cottage cheese at the end of the process. Keep refrigerated.
 * Instead of paneer you could use curd.

How to take care of dog hair?
Preet Kumar, New Delhi

Brush the hair every day. If the dog is long haired then it’s important to keep his hair clean and brushed so that he does not get ticks or fleas. During summers you can cut it so that he feels cooler. Don’t cut the cat’s hair but the same thing applies.

Sometimes dogs become overweight. What modifications can be made in their diet and routine?
Vipul Singh, New Delhi 

An overweight dog is more likely to suffer from a disabling medical condition like:
 Diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, lung disorders, high blood pressure, immune dysfunction, cancerous tumors.

 Successful weight loss, is often easier to achieve by adding canned food to your dog’s feeding regimen. Canned products usually have higher protein, lower carbohydrates and fewer calories compared to a similar sized quantity of kibble. Choose a quality dog food with above-average protein, below-average fat, below-average calories.

 Higher protein content helps a dog feel more satisfied with less begging. This makes it easier for you to stick to the diet. These products also help combat muscle loss, unwelcome side effect with dieting. Lower calories allow your dog to eat more and still lose weight.

 You can also achieve a good high protein weight loss diet by combining a  commercial dog food with low-calorie home-cooked foods. Small meals three –four times a day.

 Along with diet food, physical activity is also very important. So, get your dog moving. Take him out for a walk. Run. Play fetch. Swim. Climb the stairs. Provide at least 30 minutes of brisk exercise every day to facilitate weight loss. But not when its hot. 

At dawn or late evening monitor your dog’s progress. Weigh your dog at least every one to two weeks. Using the recommended guidelines, overweight or obese dogs should lose about one per cent to two per cent of their body weight each week.

If your dog is not losing weight, the daily calories may need to be restricted further.
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