Authorities renew animal safety reminder as heatwave continues

As high temperatures continue across many parts of the country, an animal welfare authority says it's vital livestock and pets are taken care of.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has issused a reminder, saying farmers and pet owners have special responsibilities towards their animals during a heatwave.

"The measures required are fairly basic common sense things, such as making sure animals have enough water, are in shade and there is good airflow, as much as possible," said MPI's National Animal Welfare Coordinator, Dr Wayne Ricketts.

"This applies to pet owners as well as farmers and  includes lifestyle block and horse owners," he said.

"Basically, you've got to think of the things that you as human would do during a heatwave  to get into shade with good ventilation and have plenty of water to drink," said Dr Ricketts.

"It's all good common sense stuff, yet every time we have a heatwave MPI hears of animals being left without these things."

He said special attention needs to be paid to more vulnerable stock or pets such as those who have recently given birth and their offspring and animals with pre-existing medical conditions.

Owners should also take extra precautions for animals with bare skin, short coats or no pigment in their skin, as they are more susceptible to sunburn. 

Breeds with short noses (brachycephalic) can't regulate temperature well, and young, pregnant and lactating animals, or those with long hair or wool, are also more vulnerable to heat stress.

"For farmers, it's critical that sufficient water supplies are available for stock to sustain livestock's water needs."