Avoiding Animal Heat Stress

On Earth Day, Sambo, an approximately 40–45 year old elephant, dropped dead from heart failure and extreme heat exhaustion after walking for 40 minutes in 40° Celsius weather in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The irony of an elephant dying on Earth Day surely didn’t escape many. It’s a sad event to see that an elephant has been overworked in such intense heat without anyone caring for its physiological needs. One of the questions that begs to be answered then is: How can we avoid animal heat stress?

sambo the elephant

Sambo was only one of the many elephants used as a tourist attraction in Cambodia. She had been working for Angkor Elephant Company since 2001, part of a couple of elephants made to bring tourists to the popular Cambodian temple complex, Angkor Wat. [Image: www.dankoehl.blogspot.com/]

During summer, animals experience heat stress. As temperatures rise, medical risks, such as heat stroke and heart attack, are common symptoms of heat stress for animals. Below are some tips to help keep animals well-cared for in the summer.

Provide easy access to water and shade.

dog tub

This dog is spending his summer in the best way possible: Chilling in his very own pool with other “friends.” [Image: www.opensecretsdc.tumblr.com/]

Summers can be brutal—they can make one dehydrated if there isn’t enough water ready to replenish the system. Shade is also another vital companion to prevent constant exposure to extreme heat, making both water and shade critical aspects of properly caring for animals.

Handle only when the time is right.

playful cat

“But what do you mean I can’t go outside and play? I want to!” [Image: www.wallpaperswide.com/]

It is highly recommended that all handling activities—this includes training animals—be postponed to dates or changed to times when the heat isn’t as intense. The reason for this is that some animals have less of a tolerance to heat than others, and any movement under such high temperatures outside can easily increase the animals’ internal body temperature.

Know heat stroke indications.

grizzly bear bathing

A grizzly bear luxuriously bathing in a creek. [Image: www.grizzlybearblog.wordpress.com/]

Fortunately, heat stroke has a few key identifiable factors. Here are a few:

  • High body temperature (above 104° F/40° C)
  • Altered mental state or behavior
  • Alteration in sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid breathing

Animals are vulnerable to heat stress and heat stroke, so it is important to be able to identify key signs of behavior and physiological symptoms in order to take care of them properly.

This summer, there’s no need to put your animals in danger. And as always, with the help of your Pocket Ranger® mobile apps, you can go out and have some unforgettable adventures together! Make the sun a friend and not a nemesis.

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