As a human, you’ve probably already started to prepare for summer by ditching the jeans for a few months, and not wearing a pale blue shirt to work (the worst offender for revealing those summer sweat patches). But spare a thought for poor old Fido, whose best hope of shedding a few layers is a haircut. Fortunately, we’re on his side: we went in search of some expert advice on how to help your pets survive until the weather cools down.
The opening of the new Zabeel Veterinary Hospital at the end of April couldn’t have come at a better time, and Dr Abdullah Al Mutery, the new hospital’s project manager and director of Dubai Equine Hospital, is more than happy to help. His expertise lies in horses and camels, though he explains the new hospital has seen more cats and dogs than anything else since opening its doors. ‘During summer in the UAE, the biggest problem for animals is dehydration. That’s more common in horses, camels, lions and tigers because they live outside, whereas dogs and cats are mainly kept inside,’ he explains. Though the native camel can survive longer before being affected by dehydration, he reveals the effects are more life-threatening than in domestic creatures. According to Al Mutery, the second biggest health issue he sees is colic, which he describes asa twisting in the stomach, but this can occur throughout the year, regardless of the season.
Despite only opening recently, the new hospital has already seen all manner of creatures, including bigger animals. ‘We take care of lions, tigers, cheetahs, cats, dogs – all types,’ he explains. Despite the fact he believes cats are the most popular type of pet in Dubai (citing a survey conducted at the hospital, which put Dubai’s domestic cat population at around 8,000), he reveals he is seeing an increasing number of cheetahs at the hospital, brought in mainly to have bacterial problems treated. He believes one of the hospital’s regular visitors, an Emirati woman, owns up to 11 of the big cats. But is this legal? ‘It’s 100 per cent legal,’ he explains.
You just need to apply to the Ministry of Environment, tell them how many animals you have and they’ll come and check the place.’ He notes that anyone looking to become the owner of such an exotic creature would need to have sizeable property, making them particularly popular on farms around the country.
Compared with the rest of the Middle East, Al Mutery believes the UAE is ahead of its neighbours, having introduced microchipping for all animals, not just horses. He explains this also helps experts to take a closer look at the local animal population, as well as providing data for studies and statistics. ‘It’s better than other countries, and it’s also better here now than it has ever been before.’
Zabeel Veterinary Hospital, near DIFC, www.zabeelvet.com (04 334 0011).
How to keep them comfortable
As with children, never leave your pet in a vehicle on its own, especially during summer. Being confined in a car unattended can lead to severe dehydration and even death. Leaving windows slightly open is not the solution.
Pets need exercise even when it’s scorching. If you have a dog, you’ll still need to take him or her for regular strolls. Try to do this in the early morning or after sundown to avoid dehydration, and make sure paws aren’t burned by hot pavements. Special care should be taken with short-nosed dogs, older dogs and those with thicker coats.
Animals should be washed regularly, but this is even more essential during summer, when the temperatures provide an ideal climate for bacteria to flourish, which can in turn cause small cuts or scratches to become infected.