Amidst heatwave warnings being issued by ACT and NSW weather services, RSPCA ACT is reminding pet owners to include their pets in their plans to stay cool this summer.
RSPCA ACT’s CEO Michelle Robertson said simple preparation and thinking ahead is all it takes to make sure the whole family enjoys summer.
“Whether you’re going for a walk or going on a road trip, there are simple things that you can do, like taking extra water or ensuring enough shade, to keep your fury friends comfortable and safe," Ms Robertson.
“Warm weather can be dangerous for pets, but the risks are very easy to avoid,” she said.
The RSPCA ACT’s 12 tips for summer are:
- Don’t leave pets in hot cars: It takes six minutes for a pet in a hot car to get heatstroke, dehydrate and even pass away. Avoiding this comes down to planning and thinking ahead.
- Walking dogs in hot weather: Risks include dehydration and scolding paws from hot concrete, hot Ute trays and even the timber on your veranda. If it’s too hot for the back of your hand, it’s too hot for the pet. Burns can become infected, and your animal will be in pain. Take water on walks, for you and for your pet and avoid walking in the heat of the day, rather walk in early morning or late in the evening.
- Heatstroke: Trust me when I say this, no animal owner would ever want to see their pet suffer from heatstroke. It’s horrible. To avoid you must prepare. Take water specifically for your pet, don’t just give them leftovers from your water bottle. Make sure there’s shade and use your common sense: if it’s a scorching hot day, bring your pets inside and ensure proper ventilation, especially for brachy breed, geriatric or pets with existing medical conditions.
- Enrichment in the heat: While you’re sunbaking in the backyard with cucumbers on your eyes, your pet could be losing their mind. A bored animal on a hot day gets stressed quickly. Try freezing their treats, putting ice cubes in their water bowl and hide food in cool rooms of your house to keep their minds active.
- Travelling with pets: Preparation is key – take with you the pet’s water and feeding bowls, blankets, toys etc. and make food and water available. Make sure there is air flow in vehicles and avoid direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time.
- Leaving your pets when you go away: If someone is going to feed your pets whilst you are on holiday, make sure your pets know them, make sure the person ensures your pet has access to shade and proper ventilation and can act effectively in the case of an emergency. Ensure they can feed your pets twice a day and spend time with them.
- Fireworks: Our poor animals get scared easily so again, take precautions especially if your pet is triggered by thunderstorms or sirens. Exercise your pet that afternoon to wear them out. If you are going out on New Years never tether your pet or lock them in a room: as your pet can get injured trying to escape. See a vet if you know your animal gets frightened by fireworks, medication may be an option. Otherwise, stay with your animal, play with them, even play some music to distract them from the noise.
- Bushfire Season: Planning is crucial. Make an evacuation plan for your family that includes your pets and rehearse it, do a fire drill and practise. Start this preparation now, don’t wait for emergency alerts or a bushfire to think about what your plan will be. (See RSPCA ACT website for more tips: https://www.rspca-act.org.au/ready-go
- Snakes: Snake bites are more common in hot months. According to our friends at (@ Canberra Snake Rescue and Relocation), the most common snakes in the ACT (all dangerously venomous) are Eastern Brown Snake, Mainland Tiger Snake and Red-Bellied Black Snake. Avoidance is the best precaution: When walking, keep your dog on a lead. Clean up your yard and eliminate wood piles and hiding places for snakes. Avoid walking your pets in long grass. If you suspect a snake has bitten your pet, you must act quickly. Apply a pressure bandage to the bite if visible. Get to a vet immediately.
- Ticks: Tick prevention medicines work, you must use them and keep up to date with dosages. When in high-risk tick areas, we suggest you check your pet for ticks daily. When checking, feel for small lumps and make sure you look in ‘hidden’ places such as under the collar, between toes, their paws, gumline and inside their ears. The most common symptom is paralysis of hind legs. Other symptoms include an unsteady staggering walk, a dry cough, or even just a change in the animal’s bark or meow. If you see any of these symptoms contact your vet and search your pet for ticks. If you find a tick on your pet, it is best to remove it as quickly as possible.
- Christmas foods to avoid: Celebrating Christmas often includes the outdoors, swimming pools, a BBQ, friends and family. The previous safety tips apply but pay extra attention to dogs eating leftovers. They might come across chocolates, macadamia nuts, processed meats, onions, and corn cobs; all of which are potentially lethal. Last month we had a dog in our care who had eaten a corn cob. Corn husks are indigestible and get lodged in the intestines. Only surgery can remove it. (The poor pup was fine after surgery and a week without being able to go to the toilet). Other things to avoid on the Christmas spread: alcohol, cooked bones, avocado, coffee and Christmas bauble decorations which might be shiny and look like a toy but could leave serious mouth and other injuries.
- Pets are not surprise presents: Never gift someone an animal without ensuring they want a pet, have input to the selection and is able to commit looking after the pet for the duration of the pet’s life. Pets are like family members and when you own one, please treat them like family.
RSPCA ACT is also looking for foster carers and volunteers over the summer months. For more information about foster caring call the RSPCA ACT on (02) 6287 8100.