How to Help Animals During Extreme Heat

As temperatures continue to rise within Greece, extreme heat waves are becoming more frequent and intense, posing a significant threat to animals. Whether domestic pets, livestock, or wildlife, all animals can suffer from heat stress and dehydration. Here are some practical steps to help animals stay safe and healthy during periods of extreme heat. 

1. Provide Ample Water 

Ensuring that animals have constant access to fresh, clean water is crucial. Pets should have their water bowls filled and replenished frequently, and it’s wise to place multiple water sources around the home. For livestock, make sure troughs are full and consider adding extra water points. Wildlife can benefit from shallow dishes of water placed in shaded areas of your garden. 

2. Offer Shade and Shelter 

Animals need to escape the direct sun. Create shaded areas using tarpaulins, umbrellas, or natural covers like trees and shrubs. For pets, allow them to stay indoors during the hottest parts of the day. Ensure barns and stables are well-ventilated and cool for livestock and consider installing fans if necessary. 

3. Avoid Strenuous Activities 

During heatwaves, it’s essential to limit exercise and outdoor activities. Walk dogs early in the morning or late in the evening when temperatures are cooler. Avoid leaving pets in cars, even for a short time, as temperatures can quickly become life-threatening. For working animals, reduce their workload and give them frequent breaks. 

4. Monitor for Signs of Heat Stress 

Recognising the symptoms of heat stress is key to preventing severe health issues. Signs in pets include excessive panting, drooling, lethargy, and vomiting. Livestock may show increased respiration rates, open-mouth breathing, and reluctance to move. If any of these signs are present, move the animal to a cooler area immediately and offer water. For severe cases, contact a veterinarian promptly. 

5. Create Cooling Opportunities 

Help animals cool down by providing ways for them to lower their body temperature. Pets might enjoy a paddle in a shallow pool or a run through a sprinkler. Dampen towels and place them on the ground for animals to lie on. Livestock can benefit from misting systems or a gentle spray from a hose. 

6. Be Mindful of Wildlife 

During extreme heat, wildlife also struggles to find water and shelter. Leaving water dishes at different heights and in various locations can help. Birdbaths and small ponds can provide much-needed hydration. Additionally, keeping garden areas with dense foliage can offer vital shade and cooling for small mammals and insects. Place sticks or stones in water containers to provide escape routes for smaller animals that may fall in. 

7. Adjust Feeding Schedules 

High temperatures can affect animals’ appetites. Feed pets and livestock during cooler parts of the day to encourage eating. For wildlife, avoid leaving out food that might spoil quickly in the heat, which can lead to health issues. 

8. Communicate with Your Community 

Raising awareness within your community can amplify efforts to protect animals. Share tips with neighbours and on social media. Encourage local councils and community groups to set up water stations and shaded areas in public spaces. 

Conclusion 

By taking these proactive steps, we can significantly reduce the risks that extreme heat poses to animals. Ensuring they have access to water, shade, and cooling opportunities, while being vigilant for signs of heat stress, are fundamental actions. As climate patterns shift, it becomes increasingly important to adapt our practices to safeguard the wellbeing of all animals during hot weather. 

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