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Heat Stress

During the summer months when we experience temperatures around 38 degrees or consecutive days of extremely high temperatures, our pets and many species of wildlife may suffer dehydration and exhaustion. While we often have the option of air conditioning to keep us cool during summer, unfortunately our furry pets and native wildlife do not have the same luxuries.

Mammals are the only animals to have sweat glands. Cats and dogs have theirs on the pads of their feet.  Animals that can't sweat, like flying foxes, employ other skin–moistening methods, such as licking themselves to keep cool. Other wildlife pant to attract air to their tongues.

How to spot a heat stressed animal?

There are many signs of heat stress you can look for in your animals and wildlife, such as:

  • panting
  • increased water intake
  • loss of appetite
  • lethargy and listlessness
  • increased salivation
  • unresponsiveness or confusion

In serious cases some animals may convulse or become unconscious.

How you can help your animals and wildlife during summer?

We can all help our animal friends by:

  • Making sure water bowls are filled up fresh every day.
  • Placing water bowls in various places around your yard, such as hanging from trees or posts, on the ground or on a pedestal, to provide for various creatures.
  • Adding a block of ice to water bowls in extreme heat. This can be achieved by freezing water in a plastic bowl the night before.
  • Moving cages, kennels and shelters under shade ideally somewhere with a bit of breeze. Alternatively, fans and good ventilation can help.
  • Including a drowning prevention device in your pool, stock tank or rainwater catch basin. For example, pool owners can tie a rope to the pool fence and a water buoy or 2 litre plastic drink container, which floats, this is tied to the rope at the other end and placed in the pool. This will assist those animals who fall in to crawl or climb their way to safety.
  • Provide a stick or rocks for animals and small birds to use to climb out of large tubs of water and bowls.

If your pet is too stressed to move, pick them up and move them. Encourage them to drink small amounts of water.  You can trickle cool water on legs and feet to help lower their temperature. If your pet shows no sign of improvement take them to your local vet. For more information on Summer Pet Care.

Should you see sick or injured wildlife please call 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625).