CLAW bracing for another heat wave

Lethargic, anxious and wobbly on her legs, this poor girl was dehydrated on arrival at the clinic

They will soon be coming in, dogs that seem lethargic, their tongues hanging out, flanks heaving as they pant, sunken eyes, dry gums, dry noses, and wobbly back legs.

Johannesburg area residents have been warned to brace themselves for yet another heat wave this week, with temperatures expected to remain in the mid to high thirties until Thursday.

Dogs can die of dehydration quite quickly, says Community Led Animal Welfare (CLAW) director Cora Bailey. Pinch the animal’s skin between your fingers, and you can see immediately – it doesn’t fall back into place as it should, it’s less elastic and takes longer to go back.

Even the toughest of dogs will suffer without shelter

CLAW, IFAW’s partner based in Johannesburg, saw a flood of dehydrated animals in a November heat wave, says Bailey, and they expect similar cases this time around.

“We are dripping animals to rehydrate them. If we just gave them water to drink, they’d drink too fast for their own good, and they wouldn’t be getting the salts they need to balance their electrolytes.”

Back in November, the West Rand was lashed by dry winds, laden with dust spiralling off the arid soil and, even worse, off the mine dumps, many of which are currently in the process of being ‘reclaimed’ (broken down for the tiny remnant of gold that was previously uneconomical to remove).

Dust blowing off the eroding mine dumps makes matters so much worse

This made life very unpleasant for the poor people and their animals that live in the chain of informal and semi-formal settlements that fringe on Roodepoort and Krugersdorp.

CLAW mobile clinics go out daily to these communities. “On the hottest days, our mobile clinics become taxis, ferrying animals discharged from our clinic to their homes,” says Bailey. “We just can’t let them walk in that heat!”

Many animals that were brought to the clinic for tick and flea treatment or vaccinations arrived close to collapse – they sometimes had many kilometres to walk, and their owners had misjudged the pitiless nature of the heat.

Like the clinic at Durban Deep, the residents in neighbouring areas don’t always have water on tap – they rely on water trucked in in tankers – and there’s a lot of competition for water in this weather. Many animals plainly lose out.

Many communities rely on water being trucked in

“We are doing a lot of education, asking people to ensure that there is a lot of water accessible for their animals, and that the water is kept somewhere out of the sun,” says Bailey. “It’s also vital that people provide their animals with a shady spot, somewhere they can get out of this merciless sun. We have seen some terrible dehydration cases among dogs who are chained and can’t get away from the heat.”

Meanwhile, the demand for saline solution drips is rising rapidly as CLAW does what it does so well: save animals’ lives!


Learn more about our work with companion animals here.

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