As humans retreat to our air-conditioned malls, movie theaters and homes, many pets and wildlife are stuck outside dealing with the most intense heat wave in the country since the 1930s Dust Bowl era when crops wilted and water was a cool commodity.
“During the past 30 days, a stunning 6,439 warm temperature records were set or tied in the Lower 48 states, including 240 all-time warm temperature records,” Andrew Freedman reports on climatecentral.org.
But the good news is there’s a lot we can each do to help our companion animals as well as wildlife survive the global warming blues.
1. Stay Indoors
If you are hot, imagine how much more uncomfortable you’d be wearing a full-length fur coat. Keep your dogs and cats inside during the hottest time of day with the air conditioning or army of fans on, even if you decide to go out.
2. Bath time
While your cat will prefer to stay sprawled out somewhere in your cool home, bring the dog outside and fill a kid’s pool with cool water. Or, if you have a pool, enjoy a swim with your friend, making sure he doesn’t lap up the chlorinated water.
3. House Arrest
He may beg, but you’ll be doing Fido a favor leaving him at home when running errands. Never, never leave an animal in a car, even with the windows cracked. As with children, it can be a deadly mistake as the car can heat up to much higher temperatures than it is outside.
4. Trim Down
Long-haired pets, especially dogs like Siberian Huskies who are more suited to Arctic temperatures than the current global-warming heat wrath, will benefit from a shave leaving close to inch-long hair to protect their sensitive skin from the sun.
5. Slather on the Block
Lighter-coated dogs, and even those with little hair on their muzzles, can benefit from a slather of sunscreen when out in the blazing sun. Dogs do get skin cancer so anytime you cover up, make sure to share the love with your canine friends. Human sunscreen does the job just fine.
6. Just Chillin’
Ensure you and your pets have a lot of shade, a lot of cool, clean water, and just lie back and laze through the hottest time of day. Blackouts are a real possibility, so it’s important to have a back-up plan if the air conditioning fails.
Don’t forget our free-roaming friends when the temperatures skyrocket. As we’ve paved over, drained and sucked up natural watering areas, it’s our responsibility to offer them some respite from the desperate struggle to stay safe and hydrated through these drought conditions. Whether you are in the city or live in the middle of the forest, animals could use your help.
More than anything, wildlife needs access to water. And luckily, there are many easy ways to provide them with a place to quench their thirst and take a cool bath.
1. Bird baths
Make sure to keep them clean and full. If you don’t have one, consider purchasing one this summer. To attract birds, cut a small hole in a plastic milk container or something similar, fill it with water and hang it over the bird bath. The sound of the dripping will tell birds where the water is.
Then, fill a glass with ice and lemonade, sit back in the shade and enjoy watching the birds take advantage of your tiny oasis. Don’t forget to crack the shades in your home so your cat can get a (virtual) taste of the fun.
2. Ground water
Dig a few shallow holes in your yard and place containers of different sizes and depths so that the water is level to the ground to help squirrels, other mammals, reptiles and amphibians.
Trash-can lids, flower pot plates, pie plates or an extra pet dish will all do the trick. Make sure there is easy access to get out, like placing a few rocks and some sticks in the dish, in case a little critter falls in, and try to place the bowls strategically so animals can escape easily, but not too close to dense vegetation where predators can hide.
Also, remember to change the water every 24 hours so mosquitoes can’t breed in the water. They need stagnant water that sits for at least a day so either keeping the water moving or changing it often will keep mosquitoes from joining in on the fun. Sorry guys!
These birds drink the nectar from flowers that often dry up in drought conditions. Hummingbird feeders are cheap and you can make your own nectar by boiling one part sugar to four parts water for two minutes. Tap water and table sugar are all that is required. Do not purchase a metal feeder as these tiny birds can severely burn their feet when they land on them to take a drink. Always buy the plastic feeders.
The mixture will stay good in the fridge for two weeks and the liquid in the feeder needs to be changed every few days.
Use these ridiculously hot summer temperatures as an excuse to slow down and enjoy the beauty of nature. There’s really something to the old adage: You get what you give. You and your family will get hours of satisfaction and enjoyment from watching all the hot, thirsty critters take advantage of your not-too-hard work. We’re all in this together, so “let’s get together and feel alright!”