Top 8 tips to helping animals survive summer

Summer is finally here! Along with the sun, beaches, cricket, and social get-togethers comes the heat! And it's not just the human members of the family who need to know how to cool down ...

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LAST UPDATED: 5 January 2016

Companion animals and wildlife can have a scorching time during the summer months, so we've put together an 8 point survival guide for the summers season that will help keep you and your furry friends safe and happy.

1) Be water wise

a). Always ensure your four-legged (or feathered, or scaly!) friends have fresh clean water every day and lots of it! More than one dog has been known to simply upend the water dish in an attempt to cool down too, so you may also need to top it up regularly (or make it easy on yourself and buy a shell pool!). Leave water out for thirsty wildlife. While some pets have the luxury of air conditioning, our wild natives often just swelter. Keep it in the shade — and high up if possible, to keep wildlife safe from predators. You'll probably make a whole heap of new animal friends with a makeshift billabong too!

b). Remember to put the cover on the pool when you're not using it. Hot animals trying to beat the heat can drown in pools so taking away that access can save lives (of course you'll have the water dish out anyway, right?)

c). Keep an eye out for heat-stressed wildlife — and if you spot any critters who look like they're struggling, call your local wildlife group for help.

Never leave an animal in the car

Not even for 30 seconds. Even on cloudy days, the temperature inside the car will increase very quickly — even with the window down or the air conditioning on. Dogs in particular are at severe risk of heat exhaustion and death in this situation, so it's never worth the risk.

"I'll just be two minutes" is never just two minutes. You must remember that your dog doesn't know that you've been delayed in the supermarket, all he knows is that he's hot — and getting hotter every second. An increase in body temperature of just two or three degrees can be fatal to an animal. Their average internal temperature is 38 to 39 degrees. With an internal temperature of 40 degrees your dog needs to see a vet — and at 41 degrees they can get organ failure and brain damage.

If your dog does gets overheated, get them into an air-conditioned space, and call a vet immediately. The vet will cool them down with ice packs and administer IV fluids. Even then, it might be too late. Don't risk it!

Watch out for snakes

Unlike a lot of animals, snakes can really thrive when the weather warms up, so if you're walking your furry friends through bushlands or national parks, be extra careful to avoid snakes and make sure you know what to do if one of them manages to nip your pet. Snakes are attracted to the cover of scrub and long grass. If this sounds like your backyard, mow the lawn and pay attention for symptoms of snakebite — some of which are less obvious than others.

Provide a safe haven

Summer is well and truly party season! But not all of us love their houses full of loud music and people. Shy animals in particular can become nervous and seek solitude, and some cats may even disappear for days. So before you host your next 'big one', make sure your companion animal has a safe haven – where it's quiet, away from people, and where they can go to relax if they need to (you may also need to join them there by the end of the day!)

Remember, fireworks can be scary

Many people love the excitement of fireworks ... but for our feathered and four-legged friends, they can be terrifying. Before festivities begin, bring animals inside and ensure that your house is safe and secure. Many companion animals can be so spooked that they will do anything to escape – bolting over high fences and even through windows. Ensuring that your property is escape-proof will help prevent this, and save them from becoming lost or running into traffic (the same goes for thunderstorms, too!)

Ration any leftovers wisely

We've all seen the longing eyes of our beloved dogs and cats trying to levitate the food off the table, especially during and after parties. But certain tasty foods are potentially dangerous to dogs or cats and can cause significant illness or even death.

While this list is certainly not definitive, some common foods to avoid feeding your pets include: chocolate, sugary candy (especially if it contains the sweetener Xylitol), grapes (raisins and sultanas) and nuts, garlic or onion, yeast (in bread), mushrooms, tomato leaves or stems (often in salads), anything with caffeine or cooked chicken bones. Click here for a more extensive list of toxic foods.

You should also never give your pets paracetamol, as this can kill the animal not the pain [1], (besides you may need it yourself for the New Year’s Day recovery!) If you suspect your animal may have eaten something that could be harmful, call your vet immediately.

Take them with you!

Try to find pet friendly accommodation if you are planning a trip away. Holiday booking websites like Booking.com allow you to search for Pet Friendly accommodation, and Dr Katrina Warren has some very important tips for travelling with pets — to make sure they have as a good a holiday as you! If you really can't take your best friend with you, make sure you check out and inspect the best kennels available in your area and book well in advance.

Be prepared for wild activity on the road

Keep an emergency kit in the car for any unforeseen mishaps on the road. As well as food and water for your own animals, make sure you bring extra, along with a blanket and a box in case you come across injured or exhausted wildlife on the road. Save the phone number for the local wildlife rescue service in your phone before you set out. Click here for more info on how to reduce the road toll for animals.


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