During the summer months all creatures great and small need to take precautions when it comes to exposure to heat. When body temperatures rise above normal, it can leave you in a compromised mental and physical state. Even wildlife can succumb to the affects of heatstroke. But besides those creatures that have to fend for themselves, domesticated pets whose care is our responsibility need to be taken into consideration as well. Most people assume it’s just dogs and cats that they have to worry about at home, but rodents and birds can suffer from heat prostration, too.
Caring for Birds as Pets
If you keep birds and you’ve done so for any length of time, you probably know that they can be temperature sensitive. Fluctuations in heat or cold can have dire consequences for these temperamental beings. While most domesticated birds or birds kept as pets hail from tropical settings, this doesn’t mean excessive heat can’t adversely affect them. Sure, they’re able to handle it better than your four-legged friends as a result of their abnormally high body temperatures (as compared to cats and dogs), but due to their lack of sweat glands increases in body temps can still bring about symptoms of heat exhaustion.
Tips for Pets & Summer Heat
This may seem like a no-brainer, but maybe not. A lot of bird owners keep their pets’ cages next to windows for a variety of reasons. The warm sunshine might be great in cooler weather, and the vitamin D is welcome all year round, but during hot summer months the results of direct sunlight can just be too much. It’s important to bear in mind that as the sun shifts throughout the day so might the necessity to move your birdcage from glaring rays. If you’re gone during the afternoon, make a note of this. Also, remember that the sun shifts in the sky over the course of the year, so what might be an ideal amount of light during one season will not necessarily be good during another.
Water, Water, Water
Here’s another no-brainer, but it’s surprising how often people forget the seemingly obvious. Make sure your pet has an abundance of fresh, clean water for drinking and bathing. You’ll want to keep these in separate containers. There are some great bird baths you can buy online or at your local pet store that fit neatly in their cages. Your bird can also benefit from being lightly spritzed with cool water from a mister bottle. Besides cooling them off, it also works to keep their feathers conditioned. This aids in grooming and is said to enhance coloration. Use a spray bottle with a gentle mist and not a stream so you don’t startle your bird. The last thing you want to do is stress them out.
Fans, AC & Other Tips for Cooling Off
Circulating air can help cool anybody down, regardless of what their skin is covered with. While birds can be susceptible to drafts, as long as they’re not in the direct path of the airflow they should be all right. One clever suggestion for cooling the temp of their environment down is the use of cool gel packs placed in the bottom of their cage. Make sure and put it in a thick Ziploc bag or wrap it in a cloth in case they decide to peck at it out of curiosity. Small pieces of fresh fruits and vegetables can also benefit them when temps are high by adding an extra source of hydration to their diet.
Symptoms of Heatstroke in Birds
There are some common signs to look for when trying to determine whether or not your bird may be suffering from heatstroke. One of the first things you might notice is a lack of grooming or preening. This is often followed by your bird puffing up in a ball and getting very quiet or sitting on the bottom of the cage in this state not doing anything. Surprisingly, your bird might even begin panting with its beak parted and its wings spread in an attempt to release heat from its body. If any of these symptoms come to your attention or any other odd behavior after exposure to high temps or direct sun, don’t waste time and call your veterinarian for instructions immediately.