Summer is well underway in the southern hemisphere, with many countries experiencing heatwaves and extreme temperatures. Heatwaves are no fun for anyone, but they are especially difficult for farmers and their animals. In this blog, we’ll explain the importance of keeping your animals cool in hot weather. We’ll also lay out some strategies and tools you can use to help your pets and livestock stay cool and comfortable as temperatures rise.
Why is animal temperature regulation so important?
Just like humans, animals are sensitive to hot weather. Hot weather can easily cause heat stress in animals of all kinds. Heat stress is a serious illness that can become very dangerous if not treated
quickly. Research tells us that livestock animals become less productive when they are experiencing heat stress. Sadly, heat stress can also cause serious illness, or even death. So, understanding how to keep your animals cool when the weather gets warmer is crucial to keep both you and them happy and healthy.
Keeping your dog cool
Some breeds of dogs, including bulldogs, boxers and pugs, are more prone to heat stress than others. Puppies are also more likely than adult dogs to
experience heat stress. However, all dog breeds can feel the effects of heat stress.
To keep cool, your dog needs access to shade and water at all times. Ice cubes and other cold treats, like frozen xylitol-free peanut butter, are also an effective (and tasty!) way to help your dog stay comfortable in the heat.
- If your dog loves the water, why not set up a pool for them to soak in? Fill one half of a shell sandpit with enough water for your dog to comfortably lie in, then place it in the shade so the water stays cool. Dogs who aren’t fans of swimming might prefer a wet towel or a cool surface, like a tiled floor, to rest on.
- If your dog is panting excessively, barking, whining, vomiting, or showing other signs of distress in hot weather, it’s important to take them to a vet for treatment immediately.
Keeping your cat cool
Like dogs, cats become distressed in the heat. Heat stress in cats can be harder to notice, but is still dangerous and potentially fatal. Because a cat’s heat stress symptoms are less obvious, it’s especially important to ensure they stay cool in summer. Start by making sure your cat has constant access to water and shade. Keep them inside if possible, and close window coverings to keep the inside of your home from becoming too warm.
Grooming your cat regularly can help them stay cool in the warmer months. A coat free from knots that is not too long will make it easier for your cat to regulate their own temperature. Placing your cat’s bed off the ground is also a great way to keep them cool. The air that flows under the bed will ensure that your cat doesn’t overheat when resting. Consider investing in a bed with a plastic frame and short legs for the summer months. Cats also like to rest on cool floors on hot days, just as dogs do, so if you have rugs laying over your tiled floors, consider rolling them away when the temperature rises.
Keeping your horse cool
As animals that spend lots of time outdoors, horses are at particular risk to heat stress. To avoid heat stress, don’t ride or work your horse if the weather becomes too hot. Ensure your horse has access to shade during the hottest parts of the day, and consider placing a fan nearby to keep them cool.
A sponge bath with cool water, or a gentle hose down, will help your horse from overheating. Remove blankets, heavy tack, fly masks, and other coverings when the temperature increases.
If your horse’s heart rate or breathing rate increases, either starts sweating excessively or stops sweating entirely, refuses to eat, begins to stumble, or records a temperature above 38 degrees Celsius, they may be experiencing heat stress. You should seek medical attention for your horse if they display any of these symptoms.
Keeping your livestock cool
Firstly, ensure your livestock have access to shade. Trees, natural landscape features like hills and gullies, and constructed shelters all provide excellent shade. Make sure that there’s enough shade to go around – if there are not enough sources of shade, your animals may crowd together and smother each other.
Livestock also need access to more water in the summer months. Increase the number of troughs your animals have access to. Cows and other livestock often enjoy swimming, so providing a trough big enough for a cow to soak in or a natural body of water will make your animals happy when it’s particularly hot outside.
Moving livestock can increase their body temperature by up to 3.5 degrees Celsius. So, avoid transporting or handling them if possible so ensure they stay healthy and productive over summer.
If you’d like to learn more about caring for animals all year round, we can help! Careerline Courses offers a wide range of online animal welfare courses. If you want to pursue a career in animal care or expand on your current animal care skills, our Dog Care and Animal Husbandry courses will set you on the right path. And the best part? Careerline’s courses are entirely online, tutor supported, and flexible!
Get in touch with our team to start studying today 🙂