April 22, 2018

Beat the Heat: How to Help Street Animals Survive the Summer

The summer sun is beating down on us in full swing this year, and needless to say, we’re all a little more than frustrated. Whether it’s our fervent need for an air-conditioned ride to work, a burning desire for the cool indoors, or our sudden proclivity for practically camping out by the water cooler (sorry, co-workers!), our habits are decidedly altered during the summer. 

As it turns out, humans aren’t the only animals to change their habits when temperatures fluctuate. Much like us, our furry (and feathered) friends, too, develop instincts to cool off and survive the hottest days of the year. Unfortunately, a busy, chaotic city like Pune isn't exactly the most natural environment for these instincts to guarantee survival, which is why we've curated a handy list of summer cooling tips for street animals.

Here's how you can help your furry friends beat the heat:

1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

As temperatures soar, both birds and mammals grow less active, and therefore burn less energy. This is where we – Pune’s animal lovers – come in. An act as simple as placing a water bowl for stray dogs, cats, cows, and birds to drink from can go a long way in saving a life. Be sure you label the bowl as “WATER FOR ANIMALS” to ensure no one dumps their garbage in it! Also, if you're putting out a water bowl, do make sure to clean it regularly. Dengue alert!

 

2. Shade and Shelter

Animals instinctively seek out cool, dark places to ride out the summer heat. Building simple shelters with discarded cardboard and old cloth or tarp can ensure our city’s animals remain both cool and safe. This will also help limit the risk of homeless animals seeking shelter under parked cars, thus helping reduce the chance of accidents and subsequent human-animal conflict.

 

3. Ice, Ice, Baby

Adding ice cubes and frozen ice blocks to water bowls is a great way to help animals cool off during the summer heat. You can even make easy, DIY summer treats like popsicles by freezing some ingredients in regular kitchen containers or ice cube trays. Try freezing a nutritious broth for a savoury 'pupsicle', or animal-safe fruit with peanut butter for a refreshing, sweet treat. For the especially lazy (we mean busy!), you can even try freezing watermelon cubes (sans seeds) in a Ziplock bag, leave it in for a couple of hours, and voila -- you've got yourself a fantastic, easy treat for homeless animals on the streets!

*Please note that frozen popsicles are intended as treats, and not to be given as meals.

 

Image credit: Kelly at Daily Homemade (https://dailyhomemade.wordpress.com/author/kellyaversa/page/4/)

4. Refreshing Foods to Keep ‘Em Cool

Animals are less inclined to consume a heavy diet in the summer, which is why it is recommended that you feed them cooling foods and treats such as vanilla ice-cream or curd mixed with rice. Buttermilk is a great way to help relieve heat-induced stress. For regular feeders, watermelon (without the seeds), coconut water, or even chilled cucumber sticks are great ways to mix it up and help your neighbourhood animals beat the heat!

An animal facing summer-induced lethargy will not search long for sources of food or water, and a small group of concerned citizens can make a big splash by simply following some (or all – hey, we can do it!) of the steps outlined above. 

When it comes to Mother Nature’s wrath, no one bears the brunt of it quite like homeless animals. Whether it’s tempestuous monsoons or bone-chilling winters, nothing saps our energy quite like India’s scorching summer. Homeless animals do not have the luxury of air-conditioned bedrooms or an unlimited supply of clean drinking water. Let’s make it a point to help all sentient life survive the summer this year. 

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