While we can lament and speak out about the scorching summer conditions, we definitely aren’t the only ones affected by their effects.
A recent heartrending turn of events saw severely dehydrated birds dropping out of the sky that was catalyzed by the recent record-breaking heatwaves in Northwest and Central India. Reports from Gujarat shed light on dozens of exhausted and dehydrated birds that are being rescued in Ahmedabad as heatwaves dry up the water sources in and around the city.
Unlike us, animals and birds cannot rely on sweating to regulate their body temperatures. As temperatures start rising above the 25-37℃ range (depending on which part of India you’re from!), it can not just threaten their livelihood, but also promote viral infections among their colonies.
Therefore, they need to drink plenty of water to lubricate and lend resilience to their organs. But this is difficult considering they are incapable of carrying a bottle of water with them. So, how can we do our part to help our furry and winged friends?
Keep water sources, food available outside
Keeping water sources ready with clean water is the easiest way to ensure our neighborhood animals stay hydrated. Using cheap terracotta pots keeps the water relatively clean and cool, and prevents the vessel from tipping over. If you live on higher floors, fill a container with water to create a birdbath and keep it on a parapet for birds like pigeons, crows, sparrows, parrots and more to drink from.
Fruits and vegetables are usually excellent sources of water as well as nutrition that animals might need. If your fridge has excess food, just place it at a shady location accessible to them.
Maintain your gardens
Keeping your garden lush and watered helps create a cool environment where local animals can take shelter during the heatwave season. Moist, mulchy soil gives some much-needed relief to their paws, while shade from trees allows them to be comfortable amidst the sweltering heat.
Understand the signs of heat stress
Animals may require direct assistance as well, though they may not be able to express it properly. In such situations, it is better to know the physiological and behavioral signs that signify heat exhaustion.
Some general, visible symptoms of heat stress among animals include disorientation, lethargy, excessive panting, increased respiration rate, inability to stand up straight, increased salivation, increased water intake, loss of appetite and loss of consciousness.
Keep a watchful eye
Spotting or hearing animals in need and taking immediate action can prove crucial in saving an innocent life. Therefore, try to be well aware of your surroundings. Keep a watchful eye from your windows, gardens or any other places that allow a good view of your outdoor environment.
Also, be attentive to pets left alone in cars. Even if the car windows are left slightly open, heat can accumulate quickly inside closed environments, and the animal can succumb to heat strokes within minutes (even if the car isn’t parked under direct sunlight).
Take immediate action to help stressed animals
If you see animals displaying signs of heat-related exhaustion or stress, notify humane authorities immediately and give the animal water to provide instant relief. Try not to leave their side until the issue has been resolved.
If you feel safe, try to provide them with help yourself. Wrap them in a moist towel and sprinkle them with water if you can, and keep a dish of water nearby to provide respite. If you plan on driving them to a veterinarian, make sure they feel comfortable being in closed spaces first. You can also fan them to help them cool down.
DISCLAIMER: Please provide the assistance mentioned above only if you feel comfortable and safe. Animals can be anxious, especially under stress, so approach them cautiously. It is recommended to contact your local veterinarian or authorities to provide assistance instead.
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