Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Preventing Heat Exhaustion in Animals

                         We have raised animals of different varieties in the Southern United States for twenty-five years, and there are some general rules which apply here, and in many if not most places.   The first is that all animals need access to clean water 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  This may sound obvious, but I do still occasionally see people who fill their pets water indoors only when they feed that pet, and the dish runs dry between feedings.  There are a number of devices, one can buy to ensure a continuous supply of water for your pet, even if you are away for a day or two.

This auto-waterer is for sale for about $24.00 US.   There are many other varieties inclduing one which uses a two liter soda borrle your provide and only has the base.   This can be used indoors, or even outdoors in a shaded region.

 The nicest thing about such containers is that although they are primarily intended for dogs and cats, they can be used for ferrets, chickens, ducks and many other types of animals particularly because these are sold in a variety of sizes. They are also fairly durable.

            For larger animals, I use a smaller durable bucket.     For alpacas I use a large plastic bucket for this purpose, and for dogs, I use a smaller one.

This is a flat back Fortex brand bucket which I use for alpacas waters. 

I use these smaller flat back buckets for dog waters.  These collect easily, fill quickly, and are easily cleaned.  One can carry multiple buckets when changing waters for many.  You would be surprised as to how much water even a medium sized dog can drink on a really hot day.

            Our vet says that sometimes, purchasing a large bag of ice and periodically adding some to dog water on really hot days can be a good idea.  She says that even an hour in really extreme heat can turn a dogs bucketed water into very hot water he will not drink.   She says the ice can make the water in the container drinkable for the dog longer than it would have been.

          I have a lot of inexpensive thermometers hung in our kennel and in a couple of hidden places where we rotate larger dogs on the farm as sentries.   These areas can get much hotter than you might otherwise believe.   You must make arrangements for even outdoor dogs who normally tolerate sun quite well, for shade in extreme weathers.

(  The plan for this particular run in can be purchased through horseloversstore.com  )

( This is their scaled down 8 x 12 version.  Plans can be purchased at  horseloversstore.com )

            The picture above is an artist's rendering of a horse run in.  We have a couple of these on the farm in outlying areas for alpacas.  This year, my husband built one, scaled down, for our large golden retriever male, Ben.    Ben's doghouse when he does sentry duty is way too hot for summer, but a scaled down run in, offers shade, and allows air circulation.     When it gets a little cooler, we plan to build an additional one for Skye, who also does outlying sentry duty.

This is another version of a hot weather dog house.  The overhang can be a good idea for a dog in hot weather.

The two pictures immediately above and below this label came from:http://www.toolcrib.com/blog/2009/10/24-free-dog-house-plans-peaked-roof-a-frames-dog-shelters-kennels-and-more

             If a dog is ever disoriented, in warm weather, then he needs to come indoors to a cooler location.  We keep one air conditioned room for supplies, and we have been known to allow an elderly dog to rest there, or in an indoor room in extreme heat.  Dogs also should not go for a run with you, if they are already headed for heat exhaustion.  Remember that animals develop heat exhaustion little by little usually over days, not just on one day.  Their dehydration is usually progressive over days.

            I do make sure that my alpacas have salt blocks in all weathers.   Vets tell us that dogs and cats do not require additional salt and that it can be toxic for them.

            I did learn something this week about chickens though.  Normally chickens receive plenty of salt from their food sources.  However, a breeder from Texas indicated to me that when temperatures reach 105-110 or 115 F that chickens benefit from having three things available to them as well as their normal rations.    One is plenty of cool water. Second is a small dish of lemon gatorade for energy and shock.   Third is a very small dish of water with two pinches of salt.  Apparently a little bit of salt in extreme weather can be beneficial to them.   We have not lost any additional chickens to heat exhaustion since we began doing this in very hot weather.  It is now our "extreme hot weather protocol for chickens".   We have not done this with ducks.


Matt said...

You have alpacas?

When I lived in FL, I worked for an older couple that had a small herd. I went in in the mornings and cleaned the paddocks and small fields from the previous day's poop fest, and other small errands they needed done. I was well paid and it was the best job I've ever had. Those animals had a very calming effect on me as I had a very stressful main job.

JaneofVirginia said...

Yes, we were the first people in our area, back in 1999 to get alpacas. Our original herd came from several farms in the Pacific Northwest and we had them sent across country at fairly great expense. It took us several years to conclude that this is too hot a climate, in our opinion, for alpacas. We also thought that unless we are exploitive of the animals that it is difficult to make profit on them in a breeding sense. The work was far greater than we were originally led to believe. So, we give it a rating from 1-10 as a money earning strategy, only about a 1. However, as an exercise program, and as pets who love children and who will listen to them practice musical instruments for hours on end, we give them a 10. They are also highly intelligent and loving creatures who consider their herd family. We have a lifetime commitment to the alpacas who remain with us now. They are simply family members, and our dogs effectively protect them.

Gorges Smythe said...

An excellent and timely post. This kind of weather really separates those who can safely care for animals from those who shouldn't even be allowed to have children!

JaneofVirginia said...

I think these have been the worst conditions we have experienced here in about six years. We did have one day in July six years ago, when the boyscouts at the Jamboree were all admitted to the hospital, when it was almost too hot to care on the animals hourly. We lost one, not due to the heat, but due to being swarmed by yellow jackets, which are also very hazardous in very hot conditions.