Surviving Summer Heatwaves
Many birds and small animals are not native to Australia and not naturally equipped to deal with the blistering summer heat waves. At the height of summer, the best option, especially for small animals, is to offer them sanctuary inside under controlled temperatures. For birds in an aviary, this may not be an option, so here are some tips to help you get your pets through those weltering summer days.
Danger zone: Pets in distress!
Animals stressed by the heat will often behave differently than normal. They may lose their balance, collapse or appear lethargic and stressed. Below are some tell tale signs that your pet will display when it is distressed. It’s essential for you be able to identify these signs, and to know what to do if you see them, but the main thing to remember is that heat stress can set in quickly and you must seek veterinary attention immediately.
Beat the heat
During summer, if inside the house is not an option for pets then access to full shade, cool water and electrolytes is essential.
- You may have to move your pet’s cage during the day to ensure they have access to shade all day long. Even a few minutes in full sun can be enough to kill on hot days!
- Shade cloth is a simple and effective means of reducing temperatures.
- If using metal cages keep in mind they retain the heat and your pet will not be able to keep cool.
- A misting system can be a tremendous help, and on average will reduce the temperature by about 10 degrees. Make sure you place it somewhere your pet can get cool, but still leaving enough dry area to get away from the mist if they want to.
- Cool clean water is essential. Cool being the operative word. Adding a block of ice to water containers and freezing water bottles can help. If using bowls for water, then try to use deeper rather than wide shallow bowls as water will stay cooler for longer. Adding a little bit of Spark Liquid to the water ensures your pet stays hydrated and recharged.
If you rescue an animal suffering from heat stress and dehydration, wrap it loosely in a towel, place in a cardboard box and offer water to drink. Spraying with a fine mist of water can help to cool it down. Leave it in a dark, cool and quiet place and contact your local wildlife organisation. Be sure to record the location of where the animal was found so that it can be returned to the area if it recovers.
Heat stress and lifesaving electrolytes
Cooling your pet down is only half the battle. The other half is trying to keep their body chemistry normal. Without getting really complicated, when animals or people get hot, changes begin taking place within the body that can lead to heat stress. These changes are centred around electrolytes and the loss of these all important components of the body due to dehydration.
All animals have electrolytes including humans. They are essential for all cells and organs to function normally. Making electrolytes available to our pets becomes a really important and lifesaving factor. You can use Spark Liquid for this job. Simply add it to your animal’s clean, cool water, and you will support your pets with the final piece of equipment they need to deal with the burning inferno that is our beloved Australian summer.