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25 February 1999
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is reminding dog owners that whendogs get hot, they need water and shade or they may suffer from heat stress, which can befatal.
MAF Enforcement Unit Senior Advisor, Ross Burnell, says this is truewhether the dogs are working dogs, dogs getting a lot of exercise, or dogs beingtransported in hot weather.
Ross says that the only way dogs can lose heat is by panting. "Theydon’t sweat like horses and people," Mr Burnell says. "Their tongueengorges and they drool. By panting they effectively use their mouths like radiators tolose heat." But, he says. they must be able to drink to replace lost fluid and theymust be able to pant without obstruction or they will suffer heat stress.
"Some people use muzzles on working dogs in hot weather, but this isnot acceptable," Mr Burnell says. "Muzzled dogs that are physically preventedfrom panting soon suffer heat stress. If they need to be muzzled to protect sheep andother dogs, they shouldn’t be worked in hot weather, or open wire muzzles that allowthem to pant might be an option."
The signs of heat stress include very rapid shallow breathing, weaknessbecause of muscle damage then collapse because of kidney failure, and the next stage isdeath. In less severe cases the only signs are when the dog gets home and it is lethargicand reluctant to eat.
Mr Burnell says that if the dog is to be left on the back of the truck inthe heat of the day, some thought must be given to the siting of the truck so that itremains in shade as the sun moves round.
He says that to prevent heat stress on hot days, working dogs must haveready access to drinking water at frequent intervals and be offered shade and rest fromtime to time to prevent the distressing effects of heat stress. Heat stress can be fatalbut it can readily be avoided.
Ross Burnell, MAF Enforcement Unit Animal Welfare, Box 53066, Auckland International Airport.
Phone 09 256 6423. Fax 09 236 6424.