Wild and domestic animals worldwide combat the sun’s damaging rays through a diverse array of natural abilities and instincts. Have you ever watched a pig on a hot summer day joyously rolling around in the mud before flopping onto its side for a nice long snooze?
This deliberate activity encases old Wilbur in a cooling mud mask that, once dry, acts as a thick, protective layer of sunscreen. Certain other animals, namely some fish, birds, amphibians and reptiles, take sun protection a step further by naturally producing gadusol, a chemical that can act as natural sunblock. Similarly, our long-legged giraffe friends have melanin rich tongues, turning them purple/black in colour, to help protect this sensitive body part from getting sunburnt while feeding on high tree tops. Although most of our furry family members don’t come equipped with self-made sunscreen, natural pet care routines and a bit of motherly love will be sure to help your furry friends beat the heat this summer.
NATURAL PET CARE: HOW TO BEAT THE SUMMER HEAT
Keep it cool. Help your pet find shade. Stop in shaded areas frequently during walks, build or incorporate shade options in your yard. If you’re near a water source, help your pet cool off with a swim or spray.
Stay hydrated. Ensure that your pets have clean drinking water available at all times. If you and your canine companion are heading to the beach or out for a hike, bring water with you to avoid consuming microscopic parasites that live in many lakes and streams.
Pay attention to the ground. If you’re heading out for a neighborhood stroll, place your hand on the sidewalk first. A ground that feels hot to the touch can be very damaging to a dog’s paws. Consider going for a walk when it’s cooler outside or walking along a grassy trail instead.
Monitor your pooch’s nose. Mainly due to its lack of hair, a dog’s nose can easily sunburn. Regularly check its colour (Does it look pink or red, similar to a human sunburn?), appearance (Is it dry or flaky?), and notice whether your dog flinches when you try to touch their snout.
Watch out for other animals. Especially in the Okanagan Valley, snakes can frequently be found sunbathing along hiking trails and the warmer weather brings mosquitos, fleas, and ticks out in full force. Be mindful when walking along trails and thoroughly check your pets for hitch-hiking critters upon returning home.
Know the signs. Talk to your vet about spotting heatstroke. For example, in dogs, excessive panting or salivation, general weakness, staggering, and/or vomiting may be indicators. If your pet is experiencing heatstroke, move them to a cooler area, place a cool, damp towel on their back, allow them to drink small amounts of water, and contact your vet.
NATURAL PET CARE: TIPS FOR SUMMER
The length of your pet’s hair, or a lack of hair, plays a significant role in regulating internal temperature and minimizing sun damage during summer months. It also acts in combination with natural oils to protect and provide for the health of your pet’s skin. As such, caring for your pet’s hair and, in turn, skin is an excellent defense against the negative effects of summer sun exposure.
Washing Your Pet
- How often you wash will depend on your pet’s individual needs, but regular washing will support hair and skin health, and allow you the opportunity to check for ticks and other areas of concern.
- Brush your pet before washing to remove excess dirt and hair.
- Check the water temperature before washing. If it’s too hot for you, it’s probably too hot for your pet!
- Associate bath time with positivity by talking to your pet in a calm/reassuring voice and offering them natural treats.
- Consider using natural products, such as Back to Earth’s Sophie Pet Shampoo Bar Soap or Sophie Pet Liquid Shampoo. These chemical-free alternatives will soothe and protect your pet’s skin, and hair, by infusing them with natural oils and vitamins.
- Protect your pet’s ears by being careful not to get water into them during bath time.
- Work from the neck down, to ensure no spots are missed, then rinse your pet well and thoroughly dry them off.
- Brush your pet regularly, especially those with longer hair.
- Clean your pet’s toys and other belongings with natural cleaning products.
- Pay attention to your pet’s ears and clean them as needed.
- An ear infection can significantly impact your pet’s summer activities. When cleaning them, consider using a natural, organic, anti-microbial such as Back to Earth’s Herbal Ear Wash for Animals.
- Keep your pet’s mouths clean. Talk to your veterinarian or local pet store expert about methods appropriate for your pet.
Written By: Zoë Tomichich