Are you hot yet? If you are, then your animals are probably hotter. Most animals have fur or feathers, so it is almost the same as us wearing a fur coat in August. It may be time to think of ways to help your animals beat this heat. Try these cool and easy tips to care for your animals this summer!
Caring for ALL your Animals
Water is the #1 Care to offer Animals
Whether you have a cat, dog, or even a pot-bellied pig, all animals require water. If they are an inside pet, it is a little easier. But if they live or spend most of the day outside, then this is the time to check their supplies more frequently. Here are a few things that may help:
- Empty and refill water bowls at least three times a day – or use an automatic watering system (for dogs & cats) this one is for chickens
- Keep the water in a shady spot
- During the heat of the afternoon, add ice cubes to the water
- Give the bowl a good scrubbing at least once a week. Warm water promotes algae
- Consider placing a baby pool in a shady spot for them to get in and cool off
- Bring them inside during the extreme heat of the day
- Set up a Sprinkler or Mister – We ‘double dip’ on this one. We set up sprinklers for the cows, and they love playing in the cool water. It also helps us to water the pastures. If you use this tip in a coop, though, only do it for short periods. Otherwise you will have a muddy coop, and a huge water bill!
If you have Chickens:
All of the water tips work for chickens as well. To tell if your chickens are too hot, watch for the tell-tale signs. If they are ‘panting’ (open beak, labored breathing), this is a sure sign. They will hold their wings away from their body. This allows for air circulation.
Worst case scenarios are signs of lethargy, not eating and not drinking. Try these tips for keeping them cool:
- Frozen Treats – finally chop fruits and vegetables, and place them in the freezer. Then feed them to your feathered friends. Make it easy on yourself by making a big batch of frozen treats at the beginning of the week. Divide it into seven portions, and freeze in individual bags or bowls.
- Offer Shade – If they are free-range birds, they will often find a shady respite on their own. But it they remain in their coop, then add a shade cloth or covering. Keep their water in this shady area to help keep it a bit cooler.
- Fan Them – We use a box fan and secure it in a window. This helps with air circulation, and lessens at least the worst of the heat. I have to laugh, though. I often find my chickens on the roost at midday. And they have positioned themselves in front of the fan!
- Give your Chickens a Bath – if you do see extreme behavior, grab your chicken and give it a bath. Submerge it up to the neck in cool water. This helps to bring the body temperature down. Leave it in the water until it begins to revive. From that point forward, keep a close eye on it, just in case. It may be more susceptible to heat, and may need another bath or two.
Care for Animals that are BIG
We need to care for animals of all sizes. Cows are a bit more difficult, but easier at the same time. Difficult, because you can’t very well bring them in an air-conditioned home. Easier, because they can find shade in a grouping of trees.
As for water, try using a water trough with an automatic waterer. This keeps fresh water circulating. Make sure it is placed in a shady spot to keep it cooler.
Be sure they have access to ample shade. A pasture with few trees may be fine in the evening or early morning hours. But provide a pasture with more trees during the heat of the day.
One of the ways I help keep my cows cool is by using my clothesline. I keep several old sheets handy. In early afternoon, I soak the sheets in cool water, then hang them on the line. The cows walk through them to cool down.
We also need to care for animals that are of the two-legged variety. If our family and spouse gets too hot, they can behave like animals, too! Humans can be just as susceptible to heat related issues. Cool them down with something cold to drink.
Lemonade, sports drinks and plenty of water are great suggestions. Avoid overly-sugared drinks, especially those with caffeine. Caffeine may act as a diuretic, and they will end up thirstier than when they started.
Do inside chores during the heat of the day. Take a siesta. Or just sit in the cool, read a good book or work on a craft project. The chores will still be waiting for you once the sun starts going down.
Let’s face it. The summer heat can be unbearable for humans and animals alike. Try some of these tips and keep you and your animals cool this summer!