Keep your pets safe this summer and include them in your Bush Fire Survival Plan

Summer isn’t yet upon us and already authorities are warning that the bush fire season is likely to be the worst since 2013 – maybe even worse – thanks to the hot, dry conditions we’ve already seen so early in the season.

Total fire bans have already been set in place, yet the RFS have responded to more than 5200 fires since July, 200 of them taking place across a single weekend in September, when temperatures soared to 36.4 and winds reached 102km/hour.

As people prepare their homes and families for the threat of fire, it’s also important to plan and prepare for your pet’s safety as part of your Bush Fire Survival Plan as well as swat up on how to keep your pets safe during extremes in temperature.

Here, we provide six tips to remind you how to keep your pets safe as we look ahead to summer. 

1. Keep an eye on humidity as well as temperature

 "It's not just extremes in temperature that can affect your dog," says Andrew Biggs, owner and CEO of Hanrob Pet Hotels. "If  you've ever seen an animal panting, they're doing this to try and get the heat away from their body, evaporating moisture from their lungs. If the humidity is high, animals are unable to cool themselves effectively, and run the risk of heat stroke." 

As well as taking your pet's temperature, you can look for signs of heatstroke, which may include a rapid heart beat, heavy panting, lethargy and glazed eyes. If you do suspect your dog has heat stroke, try to cool your pet down by taking them to a cool, indoor area and using and offering cool water. Seek immediate help from a qualified vet.

2. Limit exercise on hot days

"When temperatures are high, we limit exercise to cooler periods of the day such as early morning and late evening. None of the dogs boarding at Hanrob Pet Hotels will be out during the mid-day sun," says Andrew. "It's also important to keep an eye on light-skinned dogs that may be more susceptible to sun damage and you can try and restrict their exercise to grassy areas, which will be cooler on their paws."

3. Stay hydrated

Having sufficient water supply may seem obvious, but don't forget to place the water in a shady area with good air flow and keep the water cool. "We often add ice to the water during extremely hot days and fill baths with water to allow the dogs to cool down whilst having fun!"

4. Never leave your pets in a parked car

Remember not to leave your pets in a parked car this summer - not even for a minute. Temperatures inside cars can soar to dangerous levels and pets left inside can suffer fatally. 

5. Include your pet in your Bush Fire Survival Plan

If you live in an area prone to the risk of bush fires, make sure you make plans for your pet within your family's bush fire survival plan. "Make sure your pet is microchipped in case you do become separated, and add your own ID to their collars," recommends Andrew. "Find out where your local dog boarding accommodation is in case you have to evacuate, and ensure you have a secure room in your home where you can keep your pet prior to evacuation. During the risk of bush fire animals are safest in a contained room, or in a pet carrier, where you can safely keep them hydrated and minimise stress.”

6. Ensure your pets are safe when you travel for holidays

For those needing to leave their pets this summer, Andrew recommends finding a professional pet boardng facility, equipped to handle extremes in temperature and the threat of fire. “Trust your pet’s safety to a professional organisation, prepared for extremes in temperature, where your pets will be monitored daily, given sufficient water, and kept safe from the risk of bush fires,” says Andrew. “There really is no alternative for keeping your pets safe while you are away.”