Summer is upon us and whilst this may be a very exciting and festive season, it can be very traumatic for our companion animals. This is when our pets become very vulnerable and riddled with fleas. They are exposed to a variety of allergens and it is a normally a time when our pets struggle with skin allergies and skin irritation.
Summer is also a time when we travel more or go out and leave our pets alone.All of this impacts on their generally well being and state of mind.
Herewith, the first of a three part holistic approach in dealing with some typical characteristics of summer and how best to look after our companions:
1. Change in appetite
It is very normal that your pet loses appetite during the hot months. During the colder months they tend to consume more, which is necessary to build up body fat. However, in summer, we all desire less bulky meals and may even skip a meal from time to time. This is also true for our pets.
Every year during the hot summer months I am often approached by concerned clients complaining that there pets have lost their appetite. Some even blame the brand of food that they are using.
I remind them that some believe that our beloved “Fido” is a descendent from the Wolf or wild dog and that our cats are descendents from any of the wild feline family. If that is the case then these “poor” creatures would only eat once in a while when they brought down their prey.
Scientists however, have confirmed that our furry companion friend may not have descended from the wolf as there are too many different genetic sequences for this to be possible. They propose that it is possible that our canine friends could have descended from the dingo, jackal, fox, or even a coyote. If this be true, then food was even more difficult to come by and they had to rely on scavenging and the odd small prey.
In each case, they were accustomed to eat very irregularly. Now, domestically, we force our pets to eat once and even twice a day, summer or winter. This is so foreign to their metabolism and inherent desires.
To make matters worse, in the last 50 years the whole nutritional base of our animals has shifted to highly processed and chemically-laden foods, an abrupt change from a natural diet that lasted thousands of years. Before, a “not so hungry dog”, could express himself by perhaps eating a lighter meal of vegetables and grass. Now his only option is a high carbo-loaded and calorie diet in the form of a pellet. The recipe remains the same and feeding quantity remains the same but the nutritional requirements may have changed depending on the season. He may thus eat his meal very reluctantly because the desired nutrition for that moment is not there.
For those who feel uncomfortable with their pet skipping a daily feed perhaps they may consider feeding once a day only.
Palatability is, also, as important to our pets as it is to us. In fact, we all know that our pets have an extremely sensitive sense of smell and taste. So, especially when the weather is hot, knowing that our pet’s appetite is poor, it is desirable to present palatable food that is tasty. Variety is also very important to enhance appetite. Who wants to eat the same food everyday?
Using some exciting tit bits added into the food to enhance the taste would also be a good idea, like chicken liver, melted butter, home-made chicken stock, sardines, etc
2. Is your dog a cold or hot dog?
Some pets are just hot in nature. It is important to identify whether your pet is a cold dog or hot dog (not that which can be eaten). In summer, hot dogs become even more uncomfortable.
Always have loads of fresh water available. Include blended cooling herbs into their meal like mints, sages and lemon balm.
You may even wish to bath your dog in a bath of cooling ingredients like Rooibos Tea, Mint, Chamomile, Khakibos and/or buchu
3. Outdoor activity and beach
In summer we tend to wash of pets a lot more, even daily. This because they are outdoors or swim in the sea. But we make the mistake of washing with chemical shampoos which strips them of their natural skin bacteria. I would suggest a good fresh water rinse, rather than shampooing each time. You could even soak or rinse you dog in a basin of rooibos tea, apple cider vinegar and khakibos. The exact recipe I have presented previously.
Next week we will look at the typical summer problems of fleas and flea bites, long grass and dust mite allergies and how we can boost immunity to deal with these irritants.