Christmas is coming and with that comes the heat. While other parts of the world associate the coming months with drizzle, sleet and snow, antipodeans (do you like that word?) get ready for a blistering hot summer. For Aussies, Christmas means barbecues with the family and drinking white wine in the sun. While the hot weather is to be celebrated by some (not me), it’s always important to remember our fur clad friends and how best to take care of them in the hot weather. Australia’s unique ecosystem presents a particular set of challenges for pet owners and just a few simple safeguards can ensure that they are kept safe from not only the oppressive heat but threats presented by other animals who may be drawn to your home.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way…
Your pets should have unlimited access to cold, fresh water. It should be kept in large water containers. These should be kept in a cool dry area with a backup on hand should one break or split and they should be topped up with ice every now and then to ensure that it stays cool.
In the garden
The generally fair weather in most areas means that a great many Australian pets spent a lot of their time in the garden either in a protective cage or roaming the land. If possible, you should bring your pets in the shade as much as possible in the summer months. If you keep gerbils, rabbits or guinea pigs these are particularly susceptible to the heat and should be able to spend some time in a cool room like the bathroom or utility room. If, however, this isn’t possible make sure that their cage or home is keep out of direct sunlight. Drape a cold, wet towel over the cage and allow them access to an ice pack or a bottle filled with icy water to help them regulate their body temperature.
Dog owners should keep a paddling pool or clamshell pool in a shady part of the garden and fill it with cold water. This will allow your canine companion to wade and paddle to stay cool. When walking your dog, do so in the morning and evening when the weather is at its coolest to ward off dehydration.
Be wary of wildlife
The summer months result in heat stressed wildlife becoming bolder and venturing into areas populated by humans in order to find water, food and refuge from the heat. Possums are among the most commonly sighted animals although birds may also alight in your garden. Be kind to these passing gentle creatures by setting up a bird table or a makeshift billabong so that they can take some refuge.
Snakes are also more likely to find their way into your home and garden and if you spot one you should contact a local snake catcher immediately. You can mitigate the risk of snake encounters by ensuring that your grass is cut low and pets are kept away from potential hiding places like wood piles. If your pet is bitten by a snake (indications of a snake bite include collapse, convulsions, vomiting, dilated pupils, loss of bladder control or blood in urine), try to keep them as calm and quiet as possible and take them to a vet immediately.