How to care for your dog during drought

With drought taking its toll on regions across South Africa, many of us find ourselves searching for ways to make each drop of water count. Here, at Patches and Paws, we have a few life-saving tips for caring for your pupper during the harsh, dry months.

In the home

Cut down on at-home baths and visits to the groomer during water shortages by using doggie dry shampoo between washes and increasing brushing to remove grime and oil build-up on the coat and skin. Pet wipes can also be life-savers for ear cleaning, potty-training puppies, bearded breeds and brachycephalic breeds – to clean between facial folds and help prevent infection.

Be sure to keep outside drinking water in deep bowls and in a shady spot to minimise evaporation. To spare yourself from changing the water a few times a day, keep indoor bowls in areas that aren’t drafty, so dust and debris doesn’t get in.  If you’re catching rain and grey water, keep pets away from the catchment containers as stagnant water can be a breeding ground for parasites.

Out and about

Walk your pups early in the morning or around sunset, when the air is cooler and the sun less harsh. The same applies to playtime – certain breeds have a tendency to over-exert themselves in an effort to please their owners. Watch out for this, especially if you have a Boston Terrier, Border Collie or German Shepard.

Watch the paw pads for dryness and cracking – can lead to infection. Use coconut oil at bedtime, so they don’t slip and slide all over the house and get oil on the floors. It’s safe even if they lick it off and because coconut oil contains lauric acid, it is a great immune builder, both orally and topically.

If you travel with your dog, be sure to always carry fresh water – you never know where you’ll find yourself in drought-ridden areas. Even restaurants are limiting the amount of water given to patrons. This should go without saying, but never leave your dog in a car, especially in the sun and on hot days.

Heading to the beach is a great option, particularly if the water is cold and your dog likes to swim. Remember, the sand can get hot and could burn their paw pads, especially puppies. Also, make sure they have access to shade at the beach, as tanning isn’t exactly an option for them.

Look out for signs of dehydration

Our dogs can’t tell us when heat and dryness is getting too much for them, so watch out for signs of dehydration. These include:

  • Panting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Dry or sunken eyes
  • Dry nose

If your dog is showing any of these signs, move them into a shady spot immediately, preferably with a breeze or fan and give them plenty of cold, fresh water. Wiping paw pads with a cold, wet cloth and placing ice blocks in their water can also help.