How to help animals cope with the summer heatwaves

How to help animals cope with the summer heatwaves

The extreme heat of these days puts everyone to the test, humans and animals. And the rest of the summer promises to be the same: temperatures five, six degrees above average. Which will make the next few weeks really hot, especially for those who live in the city, and have to deal with the effects of urban heat islands and the lack of green areas where to find refreshment. As we said, the same goes for our four-legged friends, and for the wildlife that cohabits with us in our concrete jungles. Miracles cannot be done, of course (we should have thought about it before changing the planet's climate), but the Ministry of Health, Enpa and other associations dedicated to the protection of fauna offer us various tips to mitigate the suffering and dangers they run. animals, domestic and otherwise, during these summer heatwaves.

Pets To begin, let's start with our pets, whose well-being depends more or less entirely on our actions. As a report from the Ministry of Health recalls, unlike our species, animals covered in fur, such as dogs and cats, cannot rely on sweat to regulate their body temperature (dogs sweat from the palms of their paws, but it does not help. particularly in case of extreme temperatures). Instead, to counterbalance the effects of high temperatures, they mainly use physiological and behavioral mechanisms (look for a shaded area) and above all breathing: by increasing the rate at which they inhale and exhale the air they can disperse heat from the oral cavity, helping to maintain the temperature of the body in a range congenial to them (for dogs it ranges from 38.5 to 39 degrees, for cats from 38.5 to 39.5).

In conditions of high temperatures, poor ventilation and high humidity, these animals are therefore more susceptible than our species to the risk of heat stroke. Dogs are more exposed to this danger than cats, but all pets can be victims of temperatures if they are abandoned in a confined, closed and very hot environment. And the consequences, especially for elderly, frail or obese individuals, can be serious, causing death even in a relatively short time. A similar risk is that of sunburn. In this case it is not so much the temperature itself, but the direct action of the sun's rays that is harmful. It is therefore more difficult for it to happen at home (unless animals fall asleep in the sun and forget to move), and mainly concerns animals such as dogs, in the event that an owner who is not attentive to their health ties them to the sun or keep in a confined area (such as a fence) with no shade. The symptoms are similar to those of heatstroke, and in this case also the fur determines the risk that a given specimen runs: black furs are more exposed to heat accumulation, white ones expose to the risk of burns, especially in area of ​​the muzzle, but worst of all it goes to the shorn animals, completely deprived of their natural protection from the sun's rays.

The advice of the ministry To begin, the document of the Ministry of Health lists a series of rules of common sense that help keep our pets safe from harm. Therefore, do not leave animals in the car, no matter if the windows are slightly open or if the car is parked in the shade, because on hot days the passenger compartment can still heat up quickly. Also, do not leave tethered animals in places exposed to direct sunlight. Make sure they always have fresh water available, especially after exercise. Avoid taking them for a walk during the hottest hours of the day. Take them to the beach only if there are favorable ventilation and shade conditions.

For those who decide to leave with their four legs in tow, the advice is to avoid traveling during the hottest hours, remembering to always carry with you a bowl, water and a towel to cool the animal in case of need. Those who are driving should try to drive gently, avoiding jolts or sudden accelerations that can also cause car sickness to animals. And remember to plan frequent stops, to allow dogs to stretch their legs and do their business.

Other dangers of summer In the hot months it is not only the direct action of the heat that represents a danger. With high temperatures, for example, the replication capacity of bacteria also increases, and for this reason the ministry advises not to leave food residues in the bowls, which could rot quickly and cause poisoning in animals. The season also hides another pitfall: forasacchi, a concrete and often not sufficiently known danger. Dogs and cats that frequent areas where grasses such as barley or oats grow are at risk, because these dry ears slip into the hair and inexorably advance towards the skin, perforating it and causing wounds and infections that can be very serious. For this reason, dogs should be brushed with care when returning from walks, in the months when fields and gardens are infested with forasacchi, and the utmost attention should be paid (even in cats) to abnormal symptoms such as shaking of the head, repeated sneezing, or the fact that the animal is persistently licking some part of the body, which could make one suspect the presence of a forasacco, and justify a visit to its trusted veterinarian.

Another danger of the summer are the parasites, fleas, ticks and sand flies on the head. It is good to frequently check the coat of animals that spend time outside, to promptly identify any unwanted parasites. And regularly carry out treatment with pesticides for preventive purposes, since the bite of these insects can transmit dangerous diseases such as rickettsiosis, ehrlichiosis, leishmaniasis and filariasis to dogs and cats.

Wildlife Also wild animals obviously suffer the effects of the extreme heat that increasingly envelops our peninsula. At the end of June, the National Animal Protection Authority (Enpa) raised the alarm, asking the government for a state of emergency also with regard to animals, particularly on the fires front. On an individual level, Enpa also suggests a series of precautions with which we can help wildlife both in the city and in the countryside. First of all, placing bowls or basins full of fresh water on the balconies and in the gardens, to help animals, and especially birds, find refreshment. Inside the container it is better to introduce a weight (even a simple stone) to prevent smaller birds from getting so wet in the heat of the heat that they cannot get out of the bowl. Those who have a garden can think of using deeper water containers, to allow even micro-mammals (such as hedgehogs) to quench their thirst. Those who live in the countryside should instead place basins or buckets of water, possibly away from homes, to give relief to strays and wildlife, remembering also in this case to place a small weight inside them. Another important precaution is not to cut or prune, if possible, bushes and green areas, to provide shade for wildlife, and to guarantee a suitable nesting place for birds, which in this period (until the end of July) are intent on hatch their eggs and take care of the chicks inside the nests.

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