Guess what's their pet peeve

Guess whats their pet peeve

You don't want your pets collapsing from heatstroke. Brush up on what not to do. You don't have to shave their coats. Just stop walking them at midday. If you see someone doing that, tell them off. Wait for the sun to set. Or take them for a walk early morning



by

Nivriti Butalia

Published: Fri 16 Jun 2017, 8:59 PM

Last updated: Fri 16 Jun 2017, 11:03 PM

I t's not a memory anyone who claims to be a dog lover would be proud of. Back in Delhi, in the summer of 2000, before our two German Shepherds were packed off to my dad posted in Assam, to run wild on the endless lawns there, they used to be with us (rest of the family) for a couple of months in Delhi, panting all over our faces through power cuts, and shedding tufts of hair onto carpets. Their hair all dried and coarse with that awful-smelling Notix powder - 'anti-flea and tics'. It had an orange bottle cap and blue lettering, I remember. And you dusted it till there was a cloud over the dogs.
Gypsy and Dancer. Gypsy was the mum. Dancer was the mad one, my dog, she of endless energy. Dancer would prance into my room and lick my face every morning and get swatted on the nose with the back of my hand for waking me up, and think it was the beginning of a game. You lick my face. I swat your nose. Every single morning. Till she died. But that's a different story. So, anyway, back to the memory of dog-lover guilt.
We were one of those people call the cops to report - we used to lock Gypsy and Dancer out on the balcony so they wouldn't jump on our face and scare off the cleaning lady, who was petrified of these mad, hulking darlings. So they would be on the balcony, in some 400 heat, for the better part of the morning, panting away, and scratching at the screen door: let us in, you fools!
I guess I can console myself that it wasn't that bad! We weren't outright cruel. But even articulating that is, ugh, cringe. What is 'that cruel,' in any case. The balcony was covered, though - enclosed rather. There was a ceiling fan, dial turned up to 5 (max speed), and two giant steel bowls of water kept out for them to drink from or use to splash the entire place down with. And there was some pretty generous shade of the trees barging into the balcony, the Amaltas (Laburnum) and the Marod Phalli (Katsagon). But still, the heat, the heat! They could have died out there! I kept thinking of those pretty-awful-for-Gypsy-Dancer scenarios hearing about Roxy and others in UAE who've withstood furnaces.
So, Roxy, a two-year-old German Shepherd with a history of abuse, was lucky to be adopted this year in Dubai. The Rishis got her from Paws and Whiskers in Al Quoz. Devanjali Rishi, headhunter for Michael Page, found out about Roxy on the FB page Dubai Pets. Like all first time 'pet parents,' Devanjali and her family had a steep learning curve.
One day in March - Devanjali remembers it was cloudy, drizzling even - she thought Roxy would enjoy a walk, so Devanjali took her out for 45 minutes in the afternoon, overcast skies and all. When they got back, Roxy appeared sleepy. They gave her water and food. After an hour, when the family woke from a nap, Roxy lumbered into the garden and collapsed.
Alarmed, Devanjali picked up "all 27 kg of her," put her in the car and drove straight to the vet nearby. Roxy had high fever and was dehydrated. The vet wrapped her in cold towels and stuck ice under her armpits. Soon her eyes went back to normal and her nose was wet again, as it ought to be.
The problem was that even though it wasn't peak summer, it was humid and it exacerbated the dehydration. Now, of course, the family is always vigilant. Cold towels and ice are kept handy. There's an extra fan next to Roxy's bed. And she's taken for a check-up once a month. Lesson learnt.
The Rishis take Roxy for a walk only at 5.30-6am, and in the evening, after checking the temperature outside.
EGGS ON THE TARMAC
Dogs in the UAE are being treated for first-degree burns on "a weekly basis from being taken for walks in the midday sun," says Dr Sarah Elliott at the British Veterinary Clinic in Dubai. "Remember that the tarmac on the road can get hot enough to cook an egg during the summer. If the road feels way too hot for you to leave the back of your hands comfortably on the ground for 10 seconds, it can result in nasty burns on your dog's paw pads," she says. Common sense dictates: stick to the shade, cooler hours.
There aren't many ways around this common sense; no shortcuts to be taken. Nor does making pets wear those little (silly-looking) booties help.
They don't much like that. And paw protectors aren't a preventive measure either.
Pet parent of two British Bulldogs (Maximus and Simon), Katherine Cebrowski of furchildpets.com, is co-founder of a business that's brought quality raw pet food to the UAE. She and her partner Rob are also distributors of the sweetly-named 'Pawtector,' one of the five organic, vegan products priced around Dh69-75. So, there's a Pawtector, a Pawsoother, a wrinkle balm, and a snout and skin soother. The products all smell great (I took a deep inhale). Katherine says she even uses one of these organic, doggy products for her own heels when they crack. But again, these products aren't dehydration/ heatstroke preventives. Why can't you just slather vaseline on their paws? She wouldn't. Doesn't trust the process nor the petroleum base. "If you wouldn't eat it, why would you apply it?" Point.
Laura Glanfield, who runs the kennel and cattery Posh Paws Dubai in Al Khawaneej, has seen up-close what heat distress does to animals. Last Friday, she tried to catch "a semi-long-haired white cat struggling in the heat at Al Khawaneej." She gave the cat water then went to the kennel to get a cat trap to rescue it, but the cat had wandered off.
Glanfield knows of huskies dying of heatstroke, of dogs left in cars while the owners run shopping errands, and of German Shepherds being left in the lawns of villas in little wooden cabins in the sun with no a/c and no water. When Glanfield reached the spot at the behest of the owner who was away, one of the German Shepherds had died. (You can imagine what hearing this did to my psyche. Thankfully Gypsy and Dancer died much, sigh, happier deaths - one on a golf course chasing a goat; heart attack. Still makes me smile, what a fab, carefree way to go.)
We won't go out on a limb and say it just yet, but the good news seems to be that people are aware of what dehydration does to pets. Dr Jim Bolssens, owner and veterinarian at Europets Clinic in Sharjah sees 20 cases a day.
He hasn't this year seen burnt paws cases or dehydration cases - "absolutely rarely," he says. And a few cases in breeds not meant to be in deserts at that - huskies, etc - dogs with thick coats. He sees these cases so rarely he wouldn't recommend keeping litres of surgical spirit (96 per cent pure) in the house. Surgical spirit is for extreme cases, and can bring down temperatures rapidly, "from 41 degrees to 38 degrees in 15 minutes."
His suggestion: don't walk them in the heat (duh), keep them in an air-conditioned environment. If not that, keep your pets in the shade, provide a fan and ample fresh water, to drink from and splash around in. Pets too, 'just wanna have fun'.
nivriti@khaleejtimes.com
Nivriti has a soft spot for the 4-legged and misses the several German Shepherds of her childhood


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