Keep pets hydrated during the hot summer months
True story #1. I have a friend, a lawyer who will stay unnamed, who was given a puppy for a gift. One summer day a few years ago, my friend and her son drove to their hometown more than two hours from Manila. The puppy was kept in a box poked with holes for ventilation. The car had air-conditioning so the puppy was probably comfortable during the drive.
The problem was that upon reaching their destination, my friend, tired and craving nothing but sleep in a soft bed, forgot the puppy in the car. She went straight to bed forgetting to inform anyone in the household that there was a puppy in the car. The puppy stayed overnight in the car. My friend didn’t remember the poor thing until noon of the next day. By that time, the puppy was already dead.
True story #2. If you know a little about cats, you’d be aware that it is normal for a litter to contain four to six (sometimes, more) kittens. Because all the kittens compete for the milk that the mother cat can provide, it is almost always a survival of the fittest thing. Most will die at infancy and the strongest will live to adulthood. When Pepper gave birth to only one kitten three weeks ago, we were so sure that it would grow strong and thrive.
Two days ago, the kitten suddenly died. Very suddenly. Saturday morning, it was roaming in the living room; at noon, it appeared to be sleeping on a mat in the laundry area; by mid-afternoon, noticing how long it seemed to have been asleep, I looked closely and noticed it was no longer breathing.
Quite obviously, my friend’s puppy and our kitten died from the heat. Probably, a combination of heat stroke and dehydration.
The difference is that our kitten was not neglected. It was too small to drink water from a shallow bowl so it was dependent on its mother’s milk for hydration. And Pepper wasn’t with her all the time. On hindsight, however, I wonder if we should have tried to bottle-feed the kitten with water. It just didn’t enter my mind. Summer came so suddenly. One day it was cloudy and raining; the next day, the heat seared the bone. The kitten died two days after the onset of the summer heat.
The sad episode made me more conscious about the pets that we still have. I make sure that the guinea pig and the four cats get a fresh supply of drinking water constantly. Speedy sees to the dogs. We ought to replenish the turtle’s tub with water more often too.
Just as we humans need more water during hot and humid days, so do our pets. The young ones are especially vulnerable. Summer in the Philippines can be thoroughly punishing and keeping pets in the shade or even indoors is not enough because even inside the house the heat can be suffocating from noon until sundown. So, making sure that pets have constant access to drinking water is really the wisest solution.