Pets In Dry Climates- Just Like The Sahara Desert6 min read
PETS IN DRY CLIMATES MUST BE CAREFUL
Not all of the United States has a moisture problem. Excessive rain in those areas of the country have problems of their own to deal with. Pets in dry climates have to acclimate themselves to a different situation. This type of dry desert environment is common in the southwestern part of the United States. These areas of the country receive little rainfall. The types of parasites seen in the eastern third of the country are at a minimum due to the minimal amount of rainfall received. Moisture is needed to support abundant insect populations and that is not the case in the desert southwest. Hot, dry and low humidity describe the beautiful terrain in the region.
The biggest threat to pets in dry climates is dehydration. The hot sun sucks moisture from the body. Moisture is also lost through the skin surfaces of people but dogs do not have sweat glands on their bodies except the Chinese Crested dog so that is not an issue. What is an issue is the byproduct of respiration in mammals. Dogs and cats will lose moisture through regular breathing. The byproducts of respiration in mammals is carbon dioxide and water. This is the reason why you see nomads in the desert covered from head to toe in white, loose clothing. Their faces are wrapped in cloth. All of this minimizes fluid loss. With the advent of water deprivation, hyperthermia (heat stroke) is not that far behind.
Pets in dry climates face other obstacles. They do not usually wear shoes. Desert conditions during the daytime can easily reach 100 degrees or more. Asphalt is so hot it could fry an egg. Dogs can easily damage the pads on their paws by just walking on hot asphalt or hot desert sand. Even if it is not scorching hot the low humidity will cause problems. The pads on the paws of the animal will dry out and crack. This is made worse by the presence of sand in a desert environment. There are salts in sands and salts are used to dry meats for later eating. The salts exacerbate the problem leading to infections in the affected limb plus discomfort. Becoming injured in a desert environment could decrease your pet’s chance of survival since mobility would be a problem.
WILDLIFE IN THE DESERT CAN CAUSE AGONY
Pets in dry climates have to contend with a multitude of wild creatures that could hurt or kill them. Wildlife that can cause problems can be small or large. Coyotes roam the desert in the cooler times of the day. They generally travel in packs and can easily disable or kill a domestic dog. The domesticated dog is a genetic offspring of coyotes and wolves. Other predators can be lethal such as a snake bite received from a rattlesnake. If bitten seek immediate veterinary care. Scorpions can inhabit many parts of the United States. In the carousel above, the stinger at the end of the scorpion’s tail is visible. Bites are extremely painful. Cacti are abundantly covered in all types of thorns. These thorns can penetrate a dog’s paw webbing and or pads making walking an extremely painful proposition. In that beautiful shot of cacti take note of the beautiful spirals of our own Milky Way galaxy.
SURVIVAL TIPS DEALING WITH THE DESERT
Dealing with pets in dry climates involves a healthy dose of common sense. It can be dangerous for people, let alone pets, to wander around in a dry, desert like environment without protection from the elements. You may want to just leave your pet home in the air conditioning. The most important thing to take with you on a hike or other activity in dry, arid landscapes is a healthy supply of fresh water. Take along a small container for your pet to drink water from. If you do take food along make sure that you clean up all food debris and wastes. These can attract predators.
Make sure your dog is in excellent shape, is completely vaccinated and is free from medical problems. You do not want to take an old, arthritic dog suffering from bouts of kidney disease out on a safari! When exercising with your pet make sure you take frequent breaks from the sun. Spend plenty of time with your dog in the shade. Dogs cannot talk and say that they feel cramps or lightheaded so take it easy and provide frequent doses of shade and water.
Grooming a dog correctly is of the most utmost importance in dry environments. Shaving a dog down might sound like a good idea but the heat of the sun bearing down on the dog can easily overheat it. Sunburn can also be a problem in shaved down dogs. The best solution is to groom the dog so that there is a layering effect of the hair-coat. This protects the animal from the hot sun plus allows cooling with air movement through a layered hair-coat.
Dry skin as a result of a desert environment can be remedied in several ways. Adding a teaspoon or so of olive oil to the food daily and or a dose of Linotone® may be helpful. Coat conditioners are available from veterinary offices. In a pinch put a small amount of human conditioner in an empty spray bottle. Fill it with water. Spray the pet and comb it in to the hair-coat. Repeat as needed. These moisturizers will, in their own tiny way, keep the skin supple and minimize dehydration.
Pets in dry climates can lead happy lives in an arid environment if some precautions are taken to minimize harm to the animal.