Summer pet care
Shedding is natural for many dog breeds and usually increases as the weather gets warmer. Shedding can be minimised with regular grooming, which will help keep your dog’s skin and coat in top condition.
Short-haired breeds generally need to be groomed two to three times per week, while long-haired breeds may need a daily brush. Establish a regular routine with your dog so that he or she is comfortable and grows to enjoy it.
Regular brushing will remove excess dirt and hair. This prevents matting and helps the spread of beneficial natural oils throughout the coat. It is recommended that you use a short bristled brush for medium and short-haired dogs and a long bristled brush for long-haired dogs.
Some tangles can be easily brushed out, but if you are having difficulty, try pulling the mat apart with your fingers before brushing. Stubborn mats may need to be cut off; first gently pull the mat away from the dog’s body, put your fingers between your dogs’ skin and the mat, then carefully cut the hair above your fingers, ensuring your dog does not get cut. If you are unsure, please visit your local groomer or vet.
Brushing your dog
- Gently brush down your dog’s back and tail to begin with, being careful not to harm eyes or ears.
- Smooth your dog’s neck region by brushing downwards.
- Long hair on the back of the legs has a tendency to tangle, so make sure you brush it out.
- Give the underbelly a gentle brush to remove any loose hair.
- Not all dogs will enjoy the experience to begin with, so keep sessions short with plenty of praise and rewards for good behaviour.
- Grooming sessions are an excellent time to check over your dog to ensure there are no new lumps, bumps or mats. If you come across any, speak with your veterinarian for further advice.
Having a pet first aid kit on standby will help you deal with an emergency if the need arises. The kit should be clearly labelled, easily carried and all members of the family should know where it is.
The first aid kit should include the following:
- The phone number of your veterinarian and closest after-hours emergency veterinary hospital. Put a copy on your fridge for easy reference.
- Photocopies of your pet’s medical records and a copy of its microchip paperwork.
- A supply of any medication your pet may be taking. Make sure these are always in date and effective.
- A muzzle that will fit your dog, as injured or frightened pets may become aggressive.
- Blunt-ended scissors.
- Bandages of varying widths. Ask your vet to help source products designed for pets.
- Gauze rolls and pads.
- Adhesive tape.
- Sterile eye wash and eye lubricant.
- Saline to wash out any wounds.
- Sterile water-based lubricant, which helps to keep fur away from the wound.
- An old towel or blanket, which can have multiple uses; a compress, a wrap to prevent movement or scratching, a stretcher, or to keep the pet warm and help prevent shock.
Keep an additional kit in your car for when you are out on the road.
Being prepared is a great idea, but you should always promptly seek advice from your vet if your pet is injured or suffering from an illness.
Pets are part of the family and must be included in your bushfire emergency planning, whether they are at home with you or brought along on holidays in bushfire prone areas.
Plan for your pets
- Decide whether you will keep your pets with you or move them elsewhere during high fire-risk days. Include these details in your Bushfire Survival Plan. Remember, on Code Red days, the safest place to be is away from high-risk bushfire areas.
- If you choose to keep your pets with you, confine them early. Pets are safest inside a secure room, on a lead or in a carrier.
- Make sure you have wet towels and woollen blankets available to cover and protect your pets.
- Provide plenty of water for your pets to drink.
- Make sure your pets are microchipped and wearing a collar identification tag at all times.
- Ensure all contact information is current. Include an emergency contact outside your area that is linked to your pets’ records.
- Make a list of where you could house your pets if you decide to leave early. This may include boarding kennels, a relative/friend’s place, or you may be able to keep them with you.
- Discuss with neighbours about protecting your pets if you are not at home during a bushfire.
- Keep in regular contact with your neighbours during the fire danger period to let them know your plans. Keep your Pet Bushfire Relocation Kit within easy reach so you are ready to leave early.
- Practise how you will move your pets if you leave. It takes longer than you think.
Pet Bushfire Relocation Kit
Relocate your pets to a safer area early on high-risk days. Consider a boarding facility if you do not have friends or family in safer areas who can care for your pet.
If you relocate with your pets, make sure they are secured with a collar and lead or confined in a carrier. Make sure the carriers are clearly labelled with your contact details.
Your Pet Bushfire Relocation Kit should include:
- Food and water.
- A bowl for each pet.
- A second collar and lead.
- A carrier for cats and smaller pets.
- Bedding and a woollen blanket.
- A pet first aid kit.
- A favourite toy.
- Any medications, along with a written list of what they are.
- Your pet's medical history, including proof of vaccination.
- Your vet's contact details.
You can find out which microchip register your pet is registered with by checking your microchip registration certificate or calling the National Pet Register for assistance on 1300 734 738.
For more information on pets and fire safety, read the Country Fire Authority and The Lost Dogs’ Home’s Pets and Bushfires factsheet.
Summer pet care
Heat stress occurs when your pet cannot maintain their normal body temperature. An animal suffering from heat exhaustion will pant excessively, salivate and show signs of increased agitation. If unattended, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke and sometimes prove to be fatal. Immediately consult your vet if your pet shows any of these signs or starts vomiting.
Keeping your pets cool
- Have fresh, cold water available at all times. Place ice blocks in the water bowl.
- Ensure your pet has shade at all times or bring your pets inside into a cool room.
- Wipe your pet down with a cool, damp towel or leave wet towels out for your pet to lie on.
- Wet your dog with cool water several times throughout the day.
- Consider buying a wading pool for your dog.
- For cats, rub damp hands over the coat or along the tummy.
- Place ice in a pillow case and put it near your pet.
- Consider having your dog clipped if its coat is long and thick.
- Never leave an animal unattended in the car. On a warm day, it can take only minutes for an animal to suffer an agonising death if locked in a hot car.