Posted in pet health

Water and warmth

My mind has been wandering. If I had to depend on getting from point A to B with it, I’m not sure a GPS unit along with a backup compass and a map would get me there.

Case in point? I’m searching for an interesting topic for my column, so I let ideas meander through my mind like flour through a sieve, hoping something big and important will select itself. Thus I had two thoughts in mind for this week: 1) water, needed for life, and 2) warmth, needed for life. Both for warm-blooded animals like you and me, and our pets.

Clean water is hard to come by. Did The Rime of the Ancient Mariner clarify it first? Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote, “Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink,” probably not knowing completely, in the early 1800s, that as much as 97 percent of Earth’s water is unfit to drink. Considering that the sea (97 percent of the Earth’s water) holds far too much salt for us to safely imbibe, maybe Coleridge wasn’t a total landlubber after all. Any sailor knows you don’t drink from the briny deep – unless you’re a sea god.

Another thought: after watering some hanging plants one hot summer day, the kittens began drinking from the water draining out of the pot. I ran to fill a clean bowl with water for them. Even the garden hose can harbor microorganisms like giardia cysts, so you can’t drink from the hose without taking a risk. Then there are minerals like iron in our groundwater, and hydrofracking wastes seeping into the water table. Prescription drugs! Coliform and e-coli! MTBEs and arsenic and lead and fertilizers and fluoride! Yuk! Seawater maybe begins to sound palatable.

So put fresh clean water out for your pets to drink every day, twice a day, and in a clean dish. Especially in the summer, when puddles that might have bird poop in them are appealing to your pet.

In winter, put out warm water when your pet is outside briefly, or invest in an electric-heated water bowl that you can clean easily.

Warmth, wonderful warmth! All animals need shelter and a warm place to sleep. Pets should not be kept outdoors in temperatures below freezing. They can freeze to death. Frostbite and hypothermia can happen even to those animals with thick fur. Cold animals can also become disoriented and run away, so always supervise your pet outdoors and use a leash or harness when walking them in the cold. If people you know keep their pets in a cold garage or laundry room, remind them that a warm place off the floor with a heated cushion will protect their pets’ health.

If you see a neglected animal, contact your local humane society right away. Caring for pets means you protect them, and provide them with the warmth, food, water and companionship they need.



a little off-center, but full of good intentions