July 4, 2018

With a serious heat wave affecting much of the state and country, Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding cautioned livestock and pet owners to take measures to protect animals from high temperatures that can cause them to suffer from heat-related stress.

“Over this week of extreme temperatures, livestock and pet owners must take extra precautions to make sure their animals are protected from the heat,” said Redding. “Monitor your animals for signs of distress and contact a veterinarian immediately if animals exhibit unusual behaviors which could be related to heat stress.”

Heavier market livestock, animals with darker coats, and those with chronic health conditions are at the greatest risk of stress from the extreme heat. Watch for signs of stress in livestock that are outside during the hottest part of the day. These signs include animals bunching together, heavy panting, drooling, lack of coordination, and trembling.

Pet owners should not leave animals in vehicles. A car’s interior temperature can rise within minutes, creating suffocating temperatures that lead to animal health problems and possibly death. Likewise, if pets are left outside, make sure they have access to shade and plenty of fresh, clean, cool water.

It is important to have proper ventilation for animals kept indoors, and be sure to have backup power generation systems in place should an electrical outage occur.

Additional tips for helping pets and livestock including cattle, horses, pigs, sheep, and others deal with the heat:

Provide shade – move them to shaded pens if possible.

Provide water – as temperatures rise, animals need to consume more water. Spraying animals with water using a sprinkler that provides large droplets can also help them to cool down, when used along with shaded areas and fans.

Avoid overworking livestock – it’s safest to work with livestock early in the morning when their body temperatures are low. In addition, routine livestock management procedures such as vaccination, hoof trimming and dehorning should be postponed until the weather cools.

Avoid unnecessary transportation – if livestock must be moved, try to do so in the late evening or early morning hours.

Take dogs for early morning or late-evening walks, when temperatures are cooler.

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