The Summer holidays are here, and Australians love nothing more than getting out in the warmer weather for a getaway and fun in the sun. It’s the time of year when we take our pets on adventures or arrange for someone to take care of them while we’re away.
Our loveable companions don’t always cope well with this time of year, so it’s important to be aware of situations and things that could compromise their health. It’s not just the heat that can be dangerous, there are many things that could lead to an emergency visit to the vet – something no one wants to go through this time of year!
As a pet owner, you’re responsible for the health and wellbeing of your companion. Enshrined in law (the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act) this means you must be mindful and plan for any changes in situation or scenario to your pet’s life and wellbeing over these warmer months.
But how do you know if something is wrong? Common signs your pet might be unwell include diarrhoea, lack of coordination, muscle twitching, excessive panting, poor breathing and vomiting. It’s important to get these symptoms checked out as soon as you can, while being smart and doing your best to prevent any accidents.
Here are some things to be mindful of for your pets during the summer months:
As stated by the RSPCA, “pets should never be given alcohol, avocado, chocolate, Christmas pudding, coffee, cooked bones, currants, fruit cake, grapes, gravy, ham, lollies, macadamia nuts, marinades, onion, pork, raisins or sugarless gum.”
These food items can be harmful, toxic and even severely dangerous to your pets. Foodstuffs can even become bowel obstructions – which cost thousands of dollars in emergency surgery fees. Keeping food away from easy-to-access places will ensure this doesn’t happen, as well as having strict rules and guidelines for any guests you may have coming into your home.
To give your pets a festive reward, check with your vet or pet food store, or look online to see which treats are safe to feed them. There’s plenty of ways to get your pets involved in the festive spirit, without causing illness.
Fireworks are gorgeous to behold, but for our pets it can feel they’re being attacked. Even loud parties can make pets feel uncomfortable or unsafe, causing unwanted, stressed-out behaviour.
It’s important to have an easily accessible, quiet, comfortable and safe space for your pet. This could be a place in the house that they can retreat to when they need some rest from stimulation. Having quiet noise in this space, such as some music or the TV, can be comforting and familiar. You can even bring them their favourite toy to help them feel safe and relaxed.
Thundershirts can be great for dogs who are particularly scared of fireworks or thunderstorms. These can be bought from most pet stores and some veterinary clinics.
Going away on holiday? Or maybe you’re moving house? If you’re burnt out and stressed, chances are your pet is stressed too.
Pets pick up on our moods, for good or for worse – they know when something isn’t ok. Making sure you’ve got a good support network around you (and professionals for any long-term help) is one of the best ways you can take care of your pet’s mental health and wellbeing.
Take some time out for yourself if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Involve your pet in a positive way, by going for walks, spending time playing, or even having quality cuddle time. If you’re taking care of you, you’ll also end up taking care of your pet.
Christmas tree decorations and sparkly lights can make any room feel magical. They also look like super-fun, convenient toys to your pets.
This applies to electrical cables, including phone chargers and other electronic devices. Some components in these items are incredibly toxic to pets, so it’s best they are out of reach or sight as much as possible.
Depending on your pet’s enthusiasm for playtime, you might need to reconsider where you hang your decorations. The best thing you can do is to train your companion with positive reinforcement. Lead them away from things that aren’t toys and reward them with a treat (or one of their toys instead). They’ll come to think of decorations and cables as things that aren’t as much fun to play with.
With Australian summers getting hotter every year, it’s important to ensure your pets have adequate shade, water and cool spaces to rest. Concrete that is shaded one part of the day isn’t going to be enough, as it will retain heat – even causing burns and blisters on your pet’s paw pads. Be mindful of the time of day you choose to take them for a walk – aim for very early morning or late evening when the sun isn’t as strong and the footpaths are cooler.
You can purchase cooling mats that attract body heat away from their stomachs, or even kiddie clam pools to fill with water that they can splash around in. Be mindful if your pet is a sun bather, as they can easily get sunstroke (just like humans!)
Never, ever leave your pet in a hot car. One of the best things you can do is to keep them in air conditioned environments on hot days. Provide water with ice blocks or make pet-friendly ice treats that they can crunch on and keep them cool.
Some pets with fair skin, white fur and pink noses may require sunscreen to protect against UV damage and skin cancer. These products can be bought at pet stores and some veterinarian practices.
Looking after your pet doesn’t have to be a challenge. It can be simple if you know what you’re doing and what to look out for. If you’re unsure of how to keep your pet safe over Summer, speak to one of our friendly vets and we’ll make sure you’ve got the right plan in place for your companion.