BY GLOANN CARVALHO
Summers in Goa can be an extremely challenging time for humans and even more so for animals. With soaring temperatures, scorching heat, palpable humidity and various health risks, animal shelters and veterinarians play a crucial role in providing care and support to vulnerable animals during this season.
In this article, we explore the unique challenges faced by the same during the summers in the state and discuss the initiatives and measures drawn out tirelessly to ensure the well-being of these animals.
1. Water and shade, the paramount necessities
With merciless heat reaching its peak by the mid-mornings in Goa, hunting for shade and water becomes imperative, especially for strays.
“Shade is easier to find. Touch wood! Dogs will normally go sleep in gutters, under cars, etc. But water is not as easily available. We should see to it that water is provided everywhere, every nook and corner,” says Sweta Sardessai of Panjim Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).
“Along the Miramar Beach stretch itself we have kept around 8 bowls, and the Drishti lifeguards near this belt ensure that the bowls are cleaned and refilled at all times. We have kept these cement bowls given to us by Water For Voiceless (WFV), another NGO.”
“We have asked people to come forward to take these bowls from us, free of cost. They have to just see to it that the bowl is refilled and maintained. We are ready to even replace these bowls if needed, for free,” she added.
Water For Voiceless (WFV)
WFV aims to build a network of people across India to ensure that clean water is made available for drinking to all the animals around – the domestic and the wild.
To register – https://waterforvoiceless.com/
2. Heatstroke and kidney issues
The perennial season takes a heavy toll on all of us, especially animals. Unlike humans, dogs regulate their temperature through their paws and tongue, making dehydration and heatstrokes a very common possibility.
According to an article by Washington Post, “Dogs and cats sweat through the pads of their feet – a relatively small surface area from which to lose heat. They also pant to replace the warm air in their mouths with cooler air around them, one more reason dogs and cats can overheat if left in temperatures higher than their core body temperature (around 100 degrees).”
Dr Gautami Naik, a veterinarian at the HealthyPets Veterinary Clinic in Old Goa, adds to this by saying, “Several issues can come up. But the deadliest that can arise due to extreme heat is heatstroke. This generally happens when the body temperature soars extremely high. It can cause severe organ failure and even death in affected animals.”
“Another issue is tick fever. Pets are susceptible to tick fever when an infected tick bites them. Several animals also suffer from skin infections which are common in summer, especially fungal infections,” she says.
Heatstroke signs in your pet (Nyra Azavedo, PAWS volunteer)
Disorientation, ultimately leading to collapse
An abnormal shoot-up in their core temperature
Bigger breed dogs are at a higher risk of getting a heatstroke
3. The perils of leaving dogs in cars
“We just had a case where a family had kept their dog in their car for more than an hour. What had happened was, was that the dog had been brought to us for sterilisation, after which they were going back to Ponda,” discloses Sweta Sardessai of PAWS.
She adds, “In between, this family had some errands to run. And so they kept their pet in the car with their windows rolled up. It was a matter of one to one and a half-hour, and the dog had collapsed because of the heat. By the time he had come to the shelter, the dog had already passed away.”
DID YOU KNOW? - Besides being a warm coat in the winter, a dog’s fur helps in regulating its temperature during the summer as well. And that is why shaving might not always be ideal.
4. Diet to beat the heat (Dr Gautami Naik)
Pets generally prefer to eat less during the summer. We see a lot of pets that skip lunch due to the extreme heat.
Your pet needs to be given a lot of liquids & needs to be well-hydrated.
You can add basic soups, chicken or fish broth, etc to the diet.
Diluted curd can also be given.
Occasionally, ice cubes can be given to lick during peak afternoons.
Nyra Azavedo, another volunteer at PAWS, also chimed in, appealing to everyone to look under their vehicles, near the tyres, before driving their vehicles. Many strays are seen seeking shelter under vehicles, and many times drivers unknowingly move these vehicles with the animals still being under, thereby inflicting severe or fatal wounds.
When asked about the following season, the coming monsoon showers. Nyra Azavedo expressed even more concern, saying, “After the summers, the monsoons are also a time we will be facing a huge issue. I can only anticipate it. We are going to have a lot of animals being dumped. At the markets, the shelter – because that is the breeding season for cats and dogs.”
With the magnitude of work that makes up the daily routine of these animal shelters, many of these volunteers are eternally grateful for a helping hand, emphasising that simple actions like keeping water bowls outside and not shooing away animals seeking shade can make a significant difference.
Responsible pet ownership is another reminder. Let’s all do our part during this gruelling weather.
5. How can we help this monsoon?
If there is an animal in distress or in need of neutering. You can call the following:
+91 07066029123 - Available on WhatsApp as well
Reach out on: https://instagram.com/pawspanjim?igshid=MzRlODBiNWFlZA==
Reach out on: https://instagram.com/pfa.vasco?igshid=MzRlODBiNWFlZA==
Volunteering at local animal shelters - Come see what it is like to take care of animals at these shelters and add to the manpower.
Foster animals - This is also a great way of knowing if you can take care of potential pets in the near future.
Animal dumping during the rains - This is very common, especially with the little ones, due to the rains being the breeding season. Thus, a lot of help is required to take care of these young animals.
Donation - If you have old newspapers, cardboard boxes and clothes, please donate to your local shelter. It will help to better care for the animals in need.