Tips for animal owners to help beat the heat

Help your animals safely beat the summer heat by following a few simple steps.

Summer is here in full force and that means heat!  Just like humans, animals experience discomfort during extreme heat and there are many ways that you can help provide some relief.  Michigan State University Extension has some tips for helping your animals beat the heat.

Water is essential for keeping animals cool. Make sure to have a fresh, clean and a cool supply of water available for animals. Troughs or dishes should be large enough to hold an adequate quantity of water, and also easily accessible for the animals.

Animals should have shelter during the extreme heat or at least be in a shady area. Ideally a shelter would be one that protects animals from the sun and has ventilation so that the wind can cool the area down.  If there is poor ventilation in your shelter, you can strategically place fans in the area to increase air movement.  Remember to make sure all electrical cords are out of reach of your animals to decrease the danger of electrocution.

Some animals are at higher risk for heat related health concerns than others.  Those who are at an increased risk include young animals, dark colored animals and animals that are or have previously been sick.

It is important that owners are able to identify heat stress in order to protect and treat their animals appropriately.  Some general signs of heat stress in all species of animals are panting, increased respiration rate, increased water intake, loss of appetite, lethargy, increased salivation and, in severe cases, unconsciousness.

If you notice that your animals are suffering from heat stress you should move them into a shady, breezy area immediately and offer plenty of cool, clean water in small amounts at a time.  You may also consider spraying them with cool water, especially on their legs and feet, or letting them stand in water.  If there are no signs of improvement after doing these things, you should consult a veterinarian.

For tips on keeping your animals safe during fairs and exhibition, visit https://www.sdstate.edu/vs/extension/upload/ExEx11021-Heat-StressFairs.pdf. Additional information about Michigan 4-H Animal Science Programs is also available.

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