Hot Nighttime temperatures causing stress in animals.

In the unprecedented heat waves of January 2017, Cowra Vet Centre says pet owners and farmers have reported animals showing visible signs of heat stress. People are controlling heat through artificial air-conditioning and not empathising with the stress animals in the environment are experiencing.

The high overnight temperatures have been the cause of the animals’ discomfort”, says veterinarian partners Peter Launders and Kellie Seres.

“Overnight is generally the time when animals are able to expel heat and cope with the following day’s hot sun. But these recent temperatures have not been low enough for our animals to cool down naturally”.

“As it gets hotter, animals try to find ways to get heat out of their bodies.  Serious heat stress occurs when they can’t cool down over prolonged periods of time”, said Launders.

Heat stress leads to a decline in farm productivity in several ways.  Animals eat less and therefore growth rates decline. Stock require more water when water sources may be low or scarce. Sheep may also experience fertility problems. Extreme heat can kill embryos in ewes and sperm in rams.

“All pets should have access to plenty of water to bathe in as well as drink. It is a requirement for all feedlots to provide shade and shelter for stock and I recommend farmers and graziers do the same at this time of year”, said Seres.

“We are experiencing more emergency heat stress days from November through to March than ever before. It appears the season of heat stress on animals has grown both in duration and intensity”, says Australian National University, Fenner School scientist, Geoffrey Kay.

“It is likely these episodes of severe heat will increase in future years. I recommend all graziers plant trees in paddocks lacking shade,” he said.