BEAT THE HEAT
Summer is in full swing! This means longer days and far more outdoor time for us and our animal friends. As good guardians of our animal family members, most of us are aware of how quickly our animal friends can become dehydrated. If we’re not careful, we may even notice that our cats and dogs exhibit signs of heat stroke. On the one hand, we are conscious of their fur coats and dehydration-prone diets. On the other hand, how can we rationalize spending all of the playtime outside without our favourite family members?
Thankfully, there is a happy medium between watching our dogs and cats suffer in the heat and forcing them to miss out on all of the outdoor fun. There are several easy solutions to keeping our cats and dogs cool and outside (or even for those without in-home air conditioning) during the hottest summer months. Listed below are five innovative, creative, holistic methods of keeping our cats’ and dogs’ body temperatures regulated in the depths of the heat!
1) BROTH-SICLE- Just as humans love their summer popsicles, dogs and cats will love their broth-sicles! Bone broth is an excellent source of many essential vitamins and minerals that are severely lacking in store bought processed foods. There are many homemade recipes for bone broth. Some holistic cat and dog foods stores even sell it. Once the bone broth has been made, pour it into ice cube trays and put into the freezer. Once they are frozen, cats and dogs will love their summer fun treats! For an even more exciting broth-sicle, adding veggies or whole protein sources to the bone broth before freezing will add to both the nutritional value as well as the taste of the broth-sicle. Your animals will love it!
2) TEA FOR TWO- Believe it or not, cats and dogs nutritionally benefit from various types of teas. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, both herbs as well as foods can be categorized into “warming”, “cooling” and “neutral”. It is important that before you choose to alter your animal’s diet, you consult with a holistic animal care practitioner. Two types of herb teas that are considered to be “cooling” to the body are catnip and chamomile. Both of these teas are safe for both cats and dogs. By making these types of tea and keeping them in the fridge, you will have a readily accessible way to keep your animal companions cooler during the warmer temperatures. Obviously, they cannot drink from a tea cup! One helpful way to administer any liquid to an animal is via a syringe. Often an animal will only need a few drops per day of the tea for its energy to balance the body’s temperature. For more information, seek your local holistic veterinarian.
3) HYDRATE!!- So simple, yet so effective. Water is absolutely the most crucial way to keep our animal friends cool in the summer heat. It is imperative that we keep our animals hydrated at all times. Dehydration is a major cause of chronic pain, early stage organ failure and worse. Often an animal may not drink directly from her bowl. Cats, for example, originated as big cats in the African deserts where there was almost no water. Drinking water is a learned behaviour for cats. This is why we will find that they often have to be reminded to drink. In the summer, and if they are eating dry food (which they should never be!), offering our cats and dogs more “exciting” ways to drink water will work in everyone’s favour. By placing extra water bowls around the home, you will be encouraging your animal companions to drink, wherever in the house they are. Syringe feeding water is another novel way of getting our animal friends to drink. There are “fountains” that are made for cats and dogs that also make drinking water time fun. Of course, getting creative about how to encourage our cats and dogs is part of the fun too!
4) ADD OMEGAS 3 & 6- Often, when an animal already shows symptoms of dehydration or heat stroke, it’s too late for water to have been adequately absorbed into their body. Often, water will cleanse the inner organs and then pass right through the body without hydrating any organs or tissues. A lack of omegas in the diet can cause severe dehydration and lead to other serious health concerns as animals age. By adding omegas to the diet, we will be allowing water to be retained in the body in order to hydrate the coat, skin, organs, muscles and tissues. Adding fish, fish oil, coconut oil, olive oil an other omega-rich food sources will help to retain moisture within the animal’s body.
5) ADDING ‘COOLING FOODS’- In Traditional Chinese Medicine, food is categorized into ‘heating’, ‘cooling’ and ‘neutral’. In the depths of the summer heat, it is a good idea to consider adding ‘cooling’ foods to the diet. Cooling foods are those which energetically cool the body temperature. Some of these include; broccoli, sprouts, cucumber and celery. Raw veggies can be quite harsh on an animal’s digestive system. If feeding veggies of any kind, steaming them is the best way for us to allow our animal’s gastrointestinal systems to absorb the most nutrients from them. For those who have finicky kitties, there are also protein sources that are considered to be cooling such as turkey, tuna (NOT from a can) and duck. Beef is considered to be neutral which may also help in cooling an animal down. As always, it is important to consider the concept of feeding ‘whole foods’ as opposed to processed, store bought foods. Raw food or cooked meat is a much healthier way of feeding our animals if they will eat it.
These are just five easy ways to help our animal friends stay cool during the hottest months. Each of these can be used on its own or in combination with each other. By implementing one or more of these cooling methods, we will be ensuring a safer, more fun summer for the whole family!
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