5 Ways You Can Help Animals Beat the Heat
Almost everyone loves those clear and sunny summer days, but sometimes it gets a bit too hot, especially if you happen to be an animal without access to water, shade, or other necessities for keeping cool in the heat. We are experiencing heat waves, drought, and wildfires more frequently across the globe due to the ongoing climate crisis, which means that animals, domestic or wild, need our help more than ever. Find out how to help them in the extreme heat.
- Water, water, and more water!
Abundant water is one of the most important things to have access to on scorching hot days – without it, animals can quickly become dehydrated and perish. Leaving water out can be the difference between life and death for many animals during extreme heat waves, especially if temperatures are sweltering or if the heat persists for an extended period of time.
If you have a bird bath, ensure it is clean and full of fresh water. If you don't, consider setting one up! Pairing it with a drip jug or water fountain will help attract birds; the running water will let them know that this is somewhere to grab a drink! Setting up a drip jug is easy. Just fill up an empty plastic juice jug with water, screw the lid on, and poke a hole in it. Turn it upside down and fasten it over your bird bath!
Even animals as small as bees need to drink water! You can provide drinking dishes for them by placing rocks inside a shallow dish and filling it with water. The rocks allow the bees and other flying insects to stay dry while accessing the water. You can provide water-drinking dishes for other larger animals too. Make sure to replace the containers with fresh water frequently to ensure the water you provide is clean and does not become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Don't forget to make sure that your animal companions have plenty of water too!
- Create food foraging spaces.
The extra stress that heat causes can make it difficult for animals to find adequate food. Feeding wildlife directly is generally never a good idea, but you can provide food resources just by keeping up a garden! Gardens offer excellent habitats and food sources for many different species.
Also, If you usually keep a bird feeder, keep it filled with fresh seeds. Hummingbird feeders are also a vital source of nutrients and a replacement for nectar found in flowers that may dry up due to the heat. Providing these types of food sources can be very beneficial to your local wildlife.
- Provide access to shade and shelter
Staying out of direct sunlight can make a huge difference to overheated animals. You can help by creating shelter for animals and maintaining an outdoor space that creates plenty of shade. Not only do gardens foster foraging for animals, but they are also a great source of shade. To provide more coverage, keep your bushes and shrubs less trimmed, especially during hotter months.
Leave burrows and holes in your yard, as that is where rabbits, chipmunks, and other small animals go to escape the heat. It's much cooler underground!
You can also consider long-term solutions, like replacing concrete and other heat-retaining surfaces with more natural materials and planting trees to provide even more shade.
- Bring animal companions indoors.
Make sure your furry friends are inside and out of the sun! Provide your animal companions with plenty of fresh water on hot days. Fans can also help with air circulation, but ensure that your animal companion can move away from the airflow if they choose.
Rabbits are especially sensitive to heat and can be susceptible to heat stroke. Ideally, companion rabbits should be kept indoors. You can provide your animals with frozen water bottles to lay against if they choose or put tiles in the refrigerator.
- Never leave a dog, or any other animal, in a car.
Remember never to leave a dog, or any other animal, in a parked car in even mild temperatures, unless under full shade as they can overheat extremely quickly even when it doesn't seem that warm outside. If you see an animal in a parked car in the sun on a warm day, notify your local authorities. Find out more about the warning signs that indicate that a dog in a hot car needs help, and what the laws are in your state for intervening to save them.
There are so many ways you can help wild animals and animal companions stay cool in the heat. You may be the difference that an animal needs to survive!
Find out more ways to take action for animals, and consider supporting our work to save the Tule elk of Point Reyes National Seashore in California whose survival continues to be threatened by being trapped without water behind fencing on behalf of cattle ranchers and dairy farmers during California’s ongoing droughts and wildfires.