Summertime is often associated with holidays, social occasions and severe weather, all of which can pose risks to our furry, feathered and scaly friends. Dr Anne Fawcett from the University of Sydney’s School of Veterinary Science offers her advice for caring for your pets this festive season. Here are a few tips to protect your pets against bush fire smoke and heat stress.
Prevent heat stress in pets
According to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, climate change has led to an increased frequency of “extreme heat events”. Dogs, in particular, are prone to heat stress, which can be fatal.
- Ensure all companion animals have unimpeded access to fresh water.
- Ensure all companion animals have access to shade throughout the day (remember that shade moves).
- Exercise dogs only in the cooler parts of the day (early morning or late evening), and don’t over-exert them (dogs are not the best judges of when they need to slow down and can die from heat stress secondary to over-exertion).
- Flatter-faced “brachycephalic” breeds, such as pugs and bulldogs, are at particular risk and should be kept indoors, in a cool environment.
- Never leave animals unattended in motor vehicles, or on the back of cars like utes.
- Avoid walking dogs on hot roads/footpaths as these can cause burns to the paw pads.
Protect pets against bush fire smoke
With bushfire smoke an almost daily reality for many Australians this summer, considering how you exercise your pet or expose them to the smoke is important.
- Dogs need regular exercise, but during high smoke and smoke haze days keep this to a minimum. Aim for ‘clean air’ breaks.
- Avoid exercising your pet outdoors at the peak of any smoke incidents.
- Be aware of any pets with pre-existing airway conditions or heart disease. They are particularly vulnerable to the effects of smoke.
- For animals in hutches or aviaries, it is important they are kept well-ventilated.
- Ensure you regularly change your pets’ water supply, which can be contaminated with ash.
- Wash your pets more regularly, as the ash can stick to feathers and fur.
- If your pet is displaying signs of struggling with smoke, take then to the vet.