One thing is true about the weather in Missouri, if you don’t like it, wait a few minutes and it will change.
The weather is a concern for people because of the dangerous effects it can pose; it is equally difficult for animals.
“The excessive heat and humidity can affect animals and livestock just as it can humans,” Matt Boatright, local livestock producer said. “Animals can adapt to a lot but there are things to do that can help reduce the stress on your animals in this weather.”
Boatright, who has a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture and animal science from the University of Missouri-Columbia, said one of the most important things that can be done, is to make sure that all animals have a clean fresh supply of water daily.
“Clean, fresh water is so important for any animal,” Boatright said. “If it’s at all possible try to keep the water moving, or use well water,”
Boatright recommends feeding livestock in the early morning or late evening when the temperatures are cooler.
“The digestive process in animals generates heat within their bodies,” Boatright said. “Animals are like people. They don’t like to eat a lot when it is really hot.”
Animals can adapt to a lot Boatright said. Different animals have different means to release the heat in their bodies.
“Hogs can’t sweat so it’s important for them to have a supply of mud to wallow in,” he said. “Cattle will find shade. Try to keep them in an area where there are trees and if possible moving air.
All animals whether large or small have similar warning signs of heat exhaustion.
Signs that an animal may be in danger are excessive panting, lethargy, drooling, fever, seizures, vomiting or if the animal collapses.
Boatright’s wife Jennifer, who has a doctor’s degree in veterinary medicine from MU said there are some different techniques for taking care of cats and dogs that people often do not consider.
“It’s very important that all animals have fresh, clean water, but it has to be in a container that can’t be tipped over.” Dr. Boatright said. “People tend to put their water in bowls for their pets, but if the animal knocks that container over; they may not have a source of water for several hours.”
Shade is also important for small animals but the animals must be in areas where they can find continual shade.
While doghouses offer a protection of shade they are not good locations for dogs to be in when temperatures are extreme.
“A dog house can offer shelter but unless there is a way for air to circulate they may harm the dog more than help them,” Dr. Boatright said. “They are literally trapped in a box and temperatures can soar in enclosed spaces.”
A third thing that seems logical may also be harmful.
“A lot of dog owners will shave their dog thinking it will cool them,” Dr. Boatright said. “Actually, that can be very harmful too, because the animal may become sunburned.”
Boatright explained the coat of a dog actually acts as a cooling agent allowing air to circulate through the coat which helps to cool the animal.
Dr. Boatright recommends making sure that the undercoat of the dog or cat is brushed frequently to help thin the hair out.
She also recommends brushing the entire coat of a pet more often to help keep the coat healthy.
“It’s important to remember that animals still need exercise in the summer months as they always do, Dr. Boatright said. “It’s best to take them on walks in the cooler parts of the day. Try to keep them off paved surfaces as well because that can damage the pads on the paws of their feet.”
Dr. Boatright recommends seeking local treatment from a veterinarian immediately if an individual suspects their pets or livestock have suffered heat damage.
“Even after you have gotten the animals temperature down, there are several internal things that can’t be seen that can harm your pet,” Dr. Boatright said. “Animals can also suffer organ and brain damage from excessive heat. Blood clotting is also a concern for them.
“Animals are such a huge part of a person or families’ lives that they really do only want what is best for them.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484