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Heat Means Danger For Animals

Heat Means Danger For Animals

For many animals, the hot late summer weather can bring discomfort and danger, warns the Royal New Zealand SPCA.

"Most dogs love being driven around in cars. But leaving them for even a brief while in a parked vehicle with the windows rolled-up can cause heat collapse," says the RNZSPCA's veterinary adviser, Marjorie Orr.

"You may think that the car's in a nice shady position and that the weather looks overcast. But, when you come back half an hour later, you can find the sun blazing down on the vehicle and your dog distressed or even unconscious.

"Working dogs are also prone to heat stress and need plenty of rest stops and water. The same can be true for dogs out jogging with their owners. They may look as if they're enjoying themselves but, if they're not used to it and don't have enough rest and water, the experience can end up stressing them badly," she says.

Dr Orr says that the main means of losing heat for dogs is by panting. Instead of sweating, they pant and drool saliva, which evaporates and cools them down. They then need large quantities of water to replace what they've lost.

"Horses are also prone to heat problems but for another reason. They are physiologically incapable of panting and mainly lose heat by sweating. To put a thick cover on a horse is to interfere with its natural means of losing heat.

"Porous canvas summer covers aren't really a problem, particularly for race horses with satiny thin skins. But some owners have a habit of leaving winter covers with thick woollen lining on their horses through the summer months. This probably won't kill them. But it will make them distressed and uncomfortable," says Dr Orr. "The summer weather can also be stressful for farm stock, particularly if, as often happens, there's a shortage of shade. Farmers need to plan ahead and make sure that their stock have adequate shade," she adds.

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